June 5, 2012
Dale S. Weiss and Harold I. Perl  NIDA International Program Associate Director Dale S. Weiss, left, introduces Harold I. Perl, Acting Chief of the NIDA Prevention Research Branch, at the NIDA International Poster Session that opened the Society for Prevention Research (SPR) meeting. In right photo, NIDA International Program Director Steven W. Gust speaks at an SPR workshop on international research priorities and opportunities supported by the National Institutes of Health.

NIDA supported a poster session, roundtable discussion, and International Networking Forum at the Society for Prevention Research (SPR) Annual Meeting, which was held in Washington, DC, from May 29 to June 1, 2012. The meeting attracted more than 800 researchers, policymakers, and practitioners to discuss prevention science research results and evidence-based policies that can be implemented to promote healthy living.

Poster Session Highlights International Research

To open the SPR meeting, the NIDA International Program and the Division of Epidemiology, Services and Prevention Research (DESPR) cosponsored the Fifth NIDA International Poster Session, with support from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. NIDA International Program Associate Director Dale S. Weiss and SPR President Deborah Gorman-Smith, Ph.D., University of Chicago, welcomed participants. Ms. Weiss called the poster session an important way to highlight the outstanding and varied research conducted globally and a way to encourage collaborative international research. She also introduced the new Acting Chief for the DESPR Prevention Research Branch, Harold I. Perl, Ph.D. The poster session featured 11 scientists who received travel awards to present the results of drug abuse prevention research completed in international settings, including the following:

  • Gabriel Andreuccetti, University of São Paulo Medical School, Brazil
  • Sawitri Assanangkornchai, Prince of Songkla University, Thailand
  • Anneke Buehler, IFT Institut für Therapieforschung, Germany
  • Heather Clark, Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse, Canada
  • Andrea Fogarasi-Grenczer, Semmelweis University, Hungary
  • Johanna Gripenberg-Abdon, Karolinska Institutet, Sweden
  • Hanna Heikkila, United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), Austria
  • Joachim Jacobs, University of the Western Cape, South Africa
  • Krzysztof Ostaszewski, Institute of Psychiatry and Neurology, Poland
  • Valeriy Ryabukha, United Nations Development Programme in Ukraine, Ukraine
  • Shreeletha Solomon, Institute for Child and Adolescent Health Research, India.

NIH Representatives Discuss International Research Priorities

The NIDA International Program organized a roundtable discussion session for SPR participants, where representatives from five National Institutes of Health (NIH) components reviewed funding opportunities and the international missions, activities, and prevention research priorities of their organizations. NIDA International Program Director Steven W. Gust, Ph.D., opened the session by reviewing the types of NIH funding opportunities, including the types of NIH grants that can be used to support international research, and the advantages of international teams seeking NIH funding through domestic grants with a foreign component. All NIH funding opportunities are indexed in the NIH Guide, and researchers can subscribe to a weekly update of new announcements. Individual Institutes also post funding announcements on their websites.

Harold I. Perl, Ph.D., described NIDA’s DESPR Prevention Research Branch focus on the whole person within different contexts and across the lifespan. He recommended that international prevention researchers investigate three specific NIDA funding opportunities, International Research Collaboration on Drug Abuse and Addiction Research, Pilot and Feasibility Studies in Preparation for Drug and Alcohol Abuse Prevention Trials, and Drug Abuse Prevention Intervention Research, as well as NIDA International fellowships, such as the INVEST, INVEST/CTN, and U.S.–Mexico Prevention Research postdoctoral fellowships.

International research priorities at the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) include research on orphans, including those orphaned as a result of AIDS and war; second-language acquisition and bilingualism; conditional cash transfer studies (also known as contingency management); pediatric nutritional studies; early childhood care and education interventions; and the impact of pet ownership on child development and health behaviors. In addition to describing international research priorities at NICHD, James A. Griffin, Ph.D., reminded participants that work on successful funding applications includes details like meeting deadlines, ensuring that all eRA Commons and grants.gov accounts are up to date, and following funding opportunity announcement instructions precisely (including downloading the most recent application form and double-checking page limits). He suggested that researchers start long before the submission deadlines by reviewing the NIH database of funded projects, Research Portfolio Online Reporting Tools (RePORTER); talking to a mentor; consulting their institution’s Office of Sponsored Projects; and emailing an NIH Program Officer, who can serve as a coach, advocate, and advisor.

LeShawndra N. Price, Ph.D., described the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) partnership with health research funding agencies around the world that developed the Grand Challenges in Global Mental Health initiative and adopted an international research strategy that focuses on equitable access to treatment, leveraging existing resources, anticipating global public health needs, and building research capacity. She outlined a funding path for investigators from low- and middle-income countries that might progress from training opportunities supported by the Fogarty International Center and the NIMH Collaborative Hubs in International Research on Mental Health to small funding awards such as the Global Research Initiative Program and R21 Small Grants before qualifying for an R01 Research Project Grant.

Describing the trans-NIH international funding opportunities administered by the Fogarty International Center, James E. Herrington, Ph.D., M.P.H., stressed that two-thirds of the programs support sustainable research training in low- and middle-income countries. Beginning in January 2013, countries that are members of the G20 group of major economies will be ineligible for Fogarty funding. Another Fogarty training opportunity is the NIH Visiting Scientist program, which invites scientists to spend from 2 to 5 years conducting research in NIH intramural research laboratories. About one-third of participants in the NIH Visiting Scientist program are from other countries, and some countries (such as Brazil) subsidize the stipends for their citizens.

Kendall J. Bryant, Ph.D., National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), said the majority of his Institute’s international research investigates the role alcohol abuse plays in fetal alcohol syndrome and risky behaviors that contribute to transmission of diseases such as HIV/AIDS, other sexually transmitted infections, and tuberculosis. NIAAA has designated China, India, Russia, and South Africa as focus areas because of the high prevalence of alcohol-related problems among their populations, and supports special initiatives that are co-funded by the governments of India and Russia.

International Networking Forum Explores Sources for Seed Money

Before the SPR meeting opened, about 20 researchers from around the world gathered for the International Networking Forum. Participants discussed the UNODC effort to establish international prevention standards, a draft registry of international collaborative research that the group is developing, funding models and sources to support international prevention research partnerships, and potential uses of social media to inform International Networking Forum members of activities and opportunities. Brenda A. Miller, Ph.D., Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation, chaired the International Networking Forum. For more information about the International Networking Forum, email Dr. Miller, bmiller@prev.org.