November 1, 2010

Drug abuse and HIV/AIDS researchers across the globe are taking advantage of local meetings to bridge the regional gap that often hinders the exchange of research ideas and the development of constructive collaborations. Meetings were held recently in Malaysia, Norway, and Ukraine

The meetings, sponsored by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) International Program, offer investigators the opportunity to begin discussions and create linkages to collaborations that impact the movement and direction of research in the region. The meetings also serve to inform scientists about NIDA research funding opportunities and resources available to support new projects. Highlights of the meetings in Malaysia, Norway, and Ukraine include:

  • Penang, Malaysia. Organized and led by Richard S. Schottenfeld, M.D., Yale School of Medicine, the meeting focused on the critical research needs and challenges in the region for two primary issues: epidemiology and treatment research. Participants were separated into workgroups and came away from the meeting with concrete tasks—ranging from identifying funding to the development of new research protocols—to begin to meet the substance abuse challenges in the region.
  • Oslo, Norway. Held in conjunction with the International Council on Alcohol, Drugs and Traffic Safety (ICADTS) meeting in September, co-chairs J. Michael Walsh, Ph.D., The Walsh Group, and Steven W. Gust, Ph.D., director, NIDA International Program, brought together experts in the region to discuss drugs and driving. Speakers Alain Verstraete, M.D., Ghent University, Belgium, and Dominique Lopez, European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction, Lisbon, Portugal, discussed, in part, the challenges in gaining an accurate view of the problems with drugged driving due to differences in laws across regions and nations. The participants ended the meeting with a number of potential research projects amenable to international collaboration. On a high note, during the ICADTS meeting, Flavio S. Pechansky, M.D., Ph.D., former NIDA Hubert H. Humphrey Fellow and current chair of the College on Problems of Drug Dependence International Committee, was recognized for his poster on drunk and drugged driving on Brazilian highways.
  • Kiev, Ukraine. Organizers Sergii Dvoriak, M.D., Ph.D., Ukrainian Institute on Public Policy and former Hubert H. Humphrey Fellow, and David Metzger, Ph.D., University of Pennsylvania/Veterans Administration Medical Center, hosted a meeting on drug treatment and prevention among injection drug users. Invited guests, including drug abuse researchers from Armenia, Georgia, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan, Ukraine, and other central Asian countries, heard presentations from NIDA and other U.S. research institutions and engaged in discussions about potential collaborative studies on medically assisted treatment for drug dependence and HIV.
Participants from more than 10 regions participated in the collaborative meeting in Kiev, Ukraine, this fall.  Participants from more than 10 regions participated
in the collaborative meeting in Kiev, Ukraine, this fall.