June 14, 2011

The Society for Prevention Research (SPR) recently welcomed scientists and experts from around the world to explore prevention science from a global health perspective with the intent of fostering worldwide rapid development of evidence-based policies, strategies, and programs.

The annual meeting, which marked the 20th anniversary of SPR, centered on the theme, “Prevention Scientists Promoting Global Health: Emerging Visions for Today and Tomorrow.” One of the first events of the conference was the International Poster Session, now in its fourth year. The session, cosponsored by the NIDA International Program and Division of Epidemiology, Services and Prevention Research (DESPR) as well as the National Cancer Institute, is a popular event among early career researchers, with more than 25 scientists presenting their research. SPR president Linda M. Collins, Ph.D., Pennsylvania State University, welcomed everyone to the poster session and encouraged participants to take advantage of the great opportunity to network and learn about drug abuse prevention research around the world. DESPR director Wilson M. Compton, M.D., M.P.E., and International Program director Steven W. Gust, Ph.D., noted the importance of international research collaboration in promoting global health, an important priority within the National Institutes of Health. Dr. Gust applauded the decision to focus the 2011 SPR meeting on international research.

NIDA also provided travel awards for 13 researchers who presented the results of drug abuse prevention research completed in international settings, including the following:

  • Josipa Basic, Ph.D., University of Zagreb, Zagreb, Croatia
  • Meen Poudyal Chhetri, Ph.D., Disaster Preparedness Network-Nepal, Kathmandu, Nepal
  • Helga S. Fridjonsdottir, Ph.D., University of Iceland, Reykjavik, Iceland
  • Fabrizia Giannotta, Ph.D., Orebro University, Orebro, Sweden
  • Olga Levina, NGO “Stellit,” St. Petersburg, Russia
  • Gustavo Martinez, M.D., Salud y Desarollo Comunitario de Ciudad Juarez, Juarez, Mexico
  • Boladale M. Mapayi, MBChB, Obafemi Awolowo University, Osun, Nigeria
  • Carmen Orte, Universitat Illes Balears, Palma, Spain
  • Zila M. Sanchez, Ph.D., Universidade Federal de Brazil, Sao Paulo, Brazil
  • Eva Skarstrand, Karolinska Institute, Stockholm, Sweden
  • Tasanai Vongchak, Research Institute for Health Sciences, Chiang Mai University, Chiang Mai, Thailand
  • Trecia A. Wouldes, University of Auckland, Auckland, New Zealand
  • Matthew M. Young, Ph.D., Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse, Ottawa, Canada
Eve E. Reider, Ph.D., NIDA Division of Epidemiology, Services and Prevention Research (right), talks with Eva Skarstrand, Karolinska Institute, Stockholm, Sweden Eve E. Reider, Ph.D., NIDA Division of Epidemiology, Services and Prevention Research (right), talks with Eva Skarstrand, Karolinska Institute, Stockholm, Sweden, during the SPR International Poster Session.

The SPR program included speakers for three plenary sessions focused on large-scale prevention practices, policies, and programs; preventing violence against children; and strategic efforts to eliminate severe poverty. An array of symposiums and invited sessions rounded out the meeting, offering both seasoned scientists and early investigators a diverse array of events to encourage collaboration in prevention science.

Now in its third year, the International Networking Forum at SPR, composed of international scientists, policymakers, and community representatives, gathered to share knowledge and information about prevention strategies and support ongoing networking and collaboration through the year. Brenda Miller, Ph.D., Prevention Research Center, Berkeley, California, chaired the Forum. Participants discussed progress of the International Task Force to help involve more international colleagues in SPR prevention research-related activities as well as issues particularly relevant to the international community.

Of particular interest to early career researchers were two sessions that explored the how-tos of forming and maintaining international collaborations. The first of the two sessions was chaired by Marie-Héléne Véronneau, Ph.D., University of Oregon, and Kerry Green, Ph.D., University of Maryland. The presenters discussed the preliminary steps in preparing for international work, initiating collaborations, keys to success, and common pitfalls. The second session was a roundtable chaired by Susannah Allison, Ph.D., National Institute of Mental Health, and Jacqueline Lloyd, Ph.D., NIDA. The session highlighted successful international collaborations that have conducted HIV prevention research with diverse populations around the globe.