April 1, 2010

NIDA has joined the World Health Organization (WHO) and the College on Problems of Drug Dependence (CPDD) in selecting drug abuse scientists from China and Georgia as recipients of International Traveling Fellowship Awards. The awards will support a 1-week research visit with a NIDA-supported research grantee and participation in the NIDA International Forum and the CPDD Annual Scientific Meeting in June 2010. The two International Traveling Fellows are:

  • Irma Kirtadze, M.D., Georgia, focuses on HIV prevention among drug users, particularly inhalant users, stimulant injectors, and needle exchange program clients. She currently is leading a countrywide HIV/AIDS prevention program among injecting drug users (IDUs) in Georgia. Dr. Kirtadze has had numerous papers published in peer-review journals and conference proceedings. She has been the recipient of a NIDA grant to study engaging non-treatment-seeking drug-abusing Georgian men as well as other NIDA travel awards. Dr. Kirtadze will visit Dr. Hendree Jones of Johns Hopkins University and Dr. Wendee Wechsberg of RTI International, with whom she will study comprehensive approaches to HIV prevention and treatment with the goal of applying these methods to drug-using women in Georgia.
  • Sun Hongqiang, M.D., M.S., China, has conducted research in the field of alcohol and drug dependence, including a published study on the efficacy of nicotine sublingual tablets for nicotine-dependent patients in China. He currently is exploring the effects of acute tyrosine, tryptophan, and phenylalanine depletion treatment on cue-induced alcohol urging in alcoholics. Under his travel fellowship, Dr. Sun plans to visit Dr. Thomas Kosten’s laboratory and clinical programs at Baylor University College of Medicine, Veterans Affairs (VA) Medical Center, and MD Anderson Cancer Prevention Center in Houston, Texas. He will work with Drs. Thomas F. Newton and Richard De La Garza at Baylor University and the VA Medical Center to learn more about basic research on alcohol dependence and its treatment, especially detoxification and relapse prevention. At MD Anderson under Dr. Paul Cinciripini's tutelage, he will learn about pharmacogenetics within the larger clinical smoking cessation trials being conducted in Houston.