June 14, 2011

Three scientists are working to get to the roots of addiction through support from NIDA and the Fogarty International Center (FIC). The scientists and their work, highlighted in FIC’s recent newsletter, illustrate the true intent of the NIDA/FIC collaboration to nurture global research exchange and bring about a greater understanding of drug abuse and addiction worldwide. Highlights of the scientists’ research are described below:

  • Mustafa al’Absi, Ph.D., University of Minnesota-Duluth, began studying the neurobehavioral effects of khat use (an amphetamine-like stimulant derived from a shrub) in his native country, Yemen, with support from a Fogarty International Research Collaboration Award (FIRCA). The award stimulated research exchange between Minnesota and Yemen researchers, allowing Dr. al’Absi to parlay that project into a larger NIDA-funded grant that focuses on both social-behavioral studies and infectious disease studies.
  • Deborah Yurgelun-Todd, Ph.D., has been studying the effects of cannabis and methamphetamine abuse on the adolescent brain and how this may contribute to the spread of HIV/AIDS. Wanting to see whether some of the hypotheses she and her colleagues found would hold true in different populations, she applied for and was awarded a NIDA-supported FIC Brain Disorders in the Developing World: Research Across the Lifespan grant to study adolescents in South Africa.
  • Jasmin Vassileva, Ph.D., University of Illinois at Chicago, is investigating the effects of antisocial and psychopathic tendencies on decision making and other cognitive functions in heroin addicts. In contrast to many heroin addicts in Chicago who are also addicted to crack cocaine, heroin users in Bulgaria are typically single substance abusers, making them ideal to study. Dr. Vassileva also received a Fogarty Brain Disorders in the Developing World grant.

Read more about each of these researchers and their work in the March/April 2011 issue of FIC’s Global Health Matters. More information about the research grants is available on the NIDA International Program Web site under Research Funding.