December 31, 2010

Three new INVEST Drug Abuse Research Fellows were selected to spend 12 months of postdoctoral research training in the United States with professional development activities and grant-writing guidance. In addition, the NIDA International Program and the Clinical Trials Network (CTN) have selected five new INVEST/CTN Drug Abuse Research Fellows, who will spend a year conducting mentored postdoctoral research with a NIDA grantee affiliated with 1 of the 16 CTN Regional Research and Training Centers. The new INVEST and INVEST/CTN fellows include:

INVEST Fellows:

  • Saeed Momtazi, Ph.D., Iran, will work with Richard A. Rawson, Ph.D., Integrated Substance Abuse Programs, University of California, Los Angeles, to attain expertise in questionnaire construction, sampling strategies and analyzing results of data in order to carry out the project objective of determining how sociocultural risk and protective and resiliency factors change in immigrants and how these same factors interact with the host country’s factors.
  • Gabor Egervari, Hungary, who will work with mentor Yasmin L. Hurd, Ph.D., Mount Sinai School of Medicine, plans to study the expression of mTOR pathway proteins and related mRNAs in the brains of human heroin abusers, exploring brain regions highly implicated in substance dependence. The aim of the study is to provide significant insights about the role of mTOR in drug-induced synaptic plasticity relevant to human heroin abuse and fine tuning treatment strategies for specific phases of the abuse cycle.
  • Arina Tyurina, Ph.D., Russa, will work with mentor Jeffrey Samet, M.D., M.P.H., Boston Medical Center, Boston University School of Medicine, to investigate the impact of depressive symptoms of alcohol and marijuana use on HIV risk-behaviors among people with HIV. She plans to assess the impact of these factors on HIV-related risk behaviors, including needle/syringe sharing and high-risk sex behaviors, while also examining the data with regard to gender differences.


  • Cecile Denis, Ph.D., University of Bordeaux, France, who will work with John Cacciola, Ph.D., and Charles O'Brien, M.D., Ph.D., University of Pennsylvania, will participate in field trials of diagnostic severity measures proposed for the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5). The researchers will compare the DSM-5 measures with Addiction Severity Index (ASI) scores to test the (1) feasibility of combining the two measures in the clinical evaluation of patients, and (2) sensitivity of the diagnostic-specific severity measure against the ASI measures of substance use disorder severity over time. A postdoctoral fellow in the Addiction Psychiatry Laboratory at the University of Bordeaux, Dr. Denis has been responsible for coordinating addiction studies, supervising clinical research associates, and training colleagues to use both the ASI and the Mini International Neuropsychiatric Interview. In addition to working on the DSM-5 field trials, Dr. Denis hopes to build on her knowledge of ASI and acquire new skills to improve assessment tools and treatment outcome measures for substance use disorders.
  • Sergii Dvoriak, M.D., Ph.D., Director of the Ukrainian Institute on Public Health Policy in Kiev, will use his fellowship to learn about new treatment medications and the CTN model for conducting and managing clinical trials so that he can implement national and multinational addiction treatment and HIV risk reduction studies. With his mentor, George Woody, M.D., University of Pennsylvania and CTN Delaware Valley Node, Dr. Dvoriak will finalize and submit a grant application to compare reduction in HIV injection risk behaviors and opioid use by injection drug users treated with suboxone and counseling, methadone and counseling, or counseling alone. Dr. Dvoriak was a NIDA Hubert H. Humphrey Fellow in 1999–2000 and has long collaborated with Dr. Woody and other NIDA grantees.
  • Maria de L. Garcia-Anaya, M.D., M.Sc., National Institute of Psychiatry, “Dr. Ramón de la Fuente Múñiz,” Mexico, will split her fellowship year between Miami and New York. In Miami, Dr.. Garcia-Anaya will work with Jose Szapocznik, Ph.D., University of Miami, conducting quality assurance for the Florida Node trial of the CTN Web-based delivery of psychosocial treatment protocol and helping to launch the CTN trial of hospital visits as an opportunity for prevention and engagement for HIV-infected drug users. She will work with the Greater New York Regional Node under the direction of Edward V. Nunes, M.D., Columbia University and New York State Psychiatric Institute, on CTN trials in behavioral therapy; pharmacotherapy for opioid, cocaine, and cannabis dependence; Web-based delivery of psychosocial treatment; and an effectiveness trial comparing injection naltrexone plus community-based treatment with community-based treatment alone among opioid-dependent patients on parole or probation.
  • Rushit Ismajli, M.D., Labyrinth Multidisciplinary Substance Abuse Treatment Center, Kosovo, will concentrate on learning about screening, brief intervention, and referral to treatment (SBIRT) methods during his fellowship, working with Dennis M. Donovan, Ph.D., University of Washington, and the CTN Pacific Northwest Node. A NIDA Hubert H. Humphrey Fellow in 2007–2008, Dr. Ismajli will then test an SBIRT intervention in two Kosovo secondary schools.
  • Xuyi Wang, M.D., Central South University, China, will work with Walter L. Ling, M.D., University of California, Los Angeles and the CTN Pacific Node, to learn about the CTN model for conducting clinical trials, analyzing data, and preparing manuscripts for publication. Dr. Wang will compare the effectiveness of contingency management with and without antidepressant pharmacotherapy versus standard medical management of methamphetamine dependence. He also will examine the effects of contingency management on general psychosocial functioning.