April 24, 2012

Building on the 2011 Binational Agreement between NIDA and the Italian Department for Anti-Drug Policies (DAP), NIDA staff and grantees taught a module of the National School on Addiction, which was held March 12–13, 2012, in Italy.

NIDA Intramural Research Program (IRP) Director Antonello Bonci, M.D., via video, and Giovanni Serpelloni, M.D., DAP, opened the school with a discussion of research opportunities available through the Binational Agreement. NIDA Director Nora Volkow, M.D., addressed participants by video. Dr. Bonci and Marilyn A. Huestis, Ph.D., NIDA IRP, reported on advances in clinical and preclinical neuroscience research conducted by NIDA. Dr. Huestis also discussed acute and chronic cannabis smoking and approaches to differentiating new drug use from residual drug excretion.

NIDA Division of Epidemiology, Services and Prevention Research Director Wilson Compton, M.D., reviewed the Screening, Brief Intervention, and Referral to Treatment (SBIRT) protocol and methods to evaluate the effectiveness of prevention programs. Markus A. Hellig, M.D., Ph.D., clinical director of both the NIDA and the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism intramural clinical research programs, outlined pharmacogenetic approaches to addiction treatment for alcohol abuse.

The four grantee speakers included (1) A. Thomas McLellan, Ph.D., University of Pennsylvania, who discussed evidence-based policies and strategies; (2) Walter Ling, M.D., University of California, Los Angeles, who discussed the NIDA Clinical Trials Network (CTN) and the CTN protocol to reduce cocaine use with buprenorphine (CURB); (3) Robert Schwartz, M.D., Friends Research Institute, who reported on the effectiveness of opiate substitution treatments and strategies to manage noncompliant patients; and (4) David Gastfriend, M.D., Alkermes, who summarized strategies for matching patients to treatments.

Participation by U.S. scientists in Italian training programs such as the National School on Addiction was a priority established by the Binational Agreement.