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April 01, 1995
John A. Bowersox

NIDA's new organizational structure has been approved by Dr. Harold Varmus, director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

The reorganization was undertaken to strengthen NIDA's leadership in AIDS research, broaden its commitment to behavioral science, infuse neuroscience research throughout all the Institute's programs, and build NIDA's clinical etiology and treatment programs, says NIDA Director Dr. Alan I. Leshner. The new structure also reflects the Institute's desire to enhance its services research and to focus its epidemiology efforts on communities.

"These changes will not only broaden our research portfolio and ensure that NIDA-supported science has a greater impact on the real-world application of research findings, but also will help us in complying with 'reinvention' requirements," says Dr. Leshner, referring to the Clinton administration's initiative to streamline the Federal Government. The reorganization resulted in the merger of some branches and the transfer of others to different divisions.

A main effect of these structural changes has been the expansion of NIDA's Office on AIDS from one to four full-time staff people, reflecting the Institute's substantial commitment to AIDS research. The increase in staff will allow the office to better coordinate NIDA's AIDS-related research programs, which are conducted across all NIDA Divisions, says Dr. Harry Haverkos, director of the Office on AIDS.

One of the more conspicuous changes made under the reorganization was to rename the former Division of Clinical Research the Division of Clinical and Services Research (DCSR). "The name was changed to reflect the substantial commitment within the Division's research portfolio to health services research," says Dr. Robert Battjes, acting director of DCSR. A Federal statute, the Alcohol, Drug Abuse, and Mental Health Administration (ADAMHA) Reorganization Act of 1992, requires NIDA to spend at least 15 percent of its budget on health services research, which entails the study of the organization, financing, access and utilization, effectiveness, and cost-effectiveness of drug abuse services.

NIDA's New Organizational Structure

Office of the Director
 
Office of Planning
& Resource
Management
Office of Extramural
Program Review
  Office of Science
Policy &
Communications
Office on
AIDS
 
Division of
Clinical &
Services Research
Division of
Epidemiology &
Prevention Research
Division of
Intramural Research
Division of
Basic Research
Medications
Development
Division
Clinical Medicine
Branch
Prevention Research
Branch
Office of the
Director
Basic Neurobiology
& Biological Systems
Research Branch
Chemistry &
Pharmaceutics Branch
Services Research
Branch
Community Research
Branch
Administrative Services
Branch
Behavioral
Neurobiology Research
Branch
Clinical Trials
Branch
Treatment Research
Branch
Epidemiology Research
Branch
Clinical Pharmacology
Research Branch
Behavioral Sciences
Research Branch
Pharmacology &
Toxicology Branch
Etiology & Clinical
Neurobiology Branch
  Preclinical Pharmacology
Research Branch
  Regulatory Affairs
Branch
    Medical Affairs
Branch
   
    Neuroscience Research
Branch
   
    Etiology Research
Branch
   
    Treatment Research
Branch
   
    Molecular Neurobiology
Research Branch
   

"Research on the health consequences of drug abuse, including the effects of maternal drug use on fetal development, has been centralized within DCSR," Dr. Battjes adds. "Previously, some of this had been conducted by the Division of Epidemiology and Prevention Research (DEPR)."

The Etiology and Clinical Neurobiology Research Branch, newly established within DCSR, will stimulate the study of neurobiological and genetic factors that influence drug abuse and addiction. The new Branch "reflects the major expansion of NIDA neuroscience research," says Dr. Battjes.

As part of the reorganization, DCSR's Community Research Branch was transferred to DEPR, where its mission will be to administer a national extramural research program to study the nature of and emerging trends in drug abuse and HIV risk behaviors at the community level. The Community Research Branch joins DEPR's Prevention Research and Epidemiology Research Branches, the latter of which has been expanded to include the former Survey and Analysis Branch and the Epidemiology Surveillance Branch.

"Building a network of community-based epidemiology programs should have a major impact on understanding the factors that influence community drug abuse patterns," says Dr. Zili Sloboda, director of DEPR. Research sponsored by the Community Research Branch, she adds, also "should help to identify and design interventions to prevent these patterns."

The Division of Basic Research (DBR) now has one less branch: The functions of its former Research Technology Branch have been absorbed elsewhere within the Division. DBR's research branches also have been renamed in an attempt "to more accurately relate the branch names to the functions of their respective programs," says Dr. James Dingell, the Division's director. The former Biomedical Research, Neuroscience Research, and Behavioral Pharmacology Research Branches have become the Basic Neurobiology and Biological Systems Research Branch, the Behavioral Neurobiology Research Branch, and the Behavioral Sciences Research Branch, respectively. In addition to expanding the Division's neuroscience research opportunities, the reorganization also underscores DBR's interests in basic behavioral, pharmacology, and physiology research.

Consolidation also has reduced the number of research branches in the Medications Development Division (MDD) from five to four. Research conducted by MDD's Biometrics Branch has been incorporated into the Clinical Trials Branch, says Dr. Charles Grudzinskas, director of MDD. Dr. Grudzinskas adds that the reorganization does not significantly alter the focus of MDD research programs, which direct and coordinate the development of drug abuse treatment medications.

The research program at NIDA's Addiction Research Center (ARC) in Baltimore was raised to Division status and named the Division of Intramural Research (DIR). The DIR's research branches were not affected by the reorganization.

"The name change in part reflects an effort to standardize the organizational nomenclature within the Institute and also to have it adhere to the conventional nomenclature of the intramural programs of other NIH Institutes," says Dr. George Uhl, acting director of the DIR.

Dr. Uhl adds that the ARC's new status also signals an effort to more fully coordinate DIR research with NIDA's extramural programs. "We are defining ways to improve interactions with other divisions with which we [at DIR] have a lot in common," he says.

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