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Press Releases

Dr. Volkow announcing the MTF results

L to R: Gil Kerlikowske and Drs. Nora Volkow, Howard Koh and Lloyd Johnston

Cigarette and alcohol use at historic low among teens
Cigarette and alcohol use by eighth, 10th and 12th-graders are at their lowest point since the Monitoring the Future (MTF) survey began polling teenagers in 1975, according to this year’s survey results. However, this positive news is tempered by a slowing rate of decline in teen smoking as well as continued high rates of abuse of other tobacco products (e.g., hookahs, small cigars, smokeless tobacco), marijuana and prescription drugs. The survey results appeared to show that more teens continue to abuse marijuana than cigarettes; and alcohol is still the drug of choice among all three age groups queried. MTF is an annual survey of eighth, 10th, and 12th-graders conducted by researchers at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, under a grant from NIDA. Read more ⇒

News from this year’s survey was announced December 14th during a press conference in Washington, D.C. NIDA Director Dr. Nora Volkow presented the survey results, and was joined by ONDCP Director Gil Kerlikowske, Assistant Secretary for Health at HHS Dr. Howard Koh, and Principal Investigator Dr. Lloyd Johnston. Media coverage of the event was extensive, reaching more than 41 million viewers. The national network placements included ABC World News Tonight, CBS Evening News, PBS Newshour, and NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams. National cable placements included CNN Health and several others. Locally, stories ran in all of the top 50 markets, including multiple stations in the top 10 markets. Print coverage included 375 articles, including USA Today, Associated Press,, New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Reuters, Washington Post, National Journal, Time, Education Week, and HealthDay. Additionally, there were close to 300 tweets posted about the survey. Listen to the audiocast of the press conference ⇒ | View additional information on the MTF survey ⇒

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Research News

Researcher with test tube

NIDA leads pain project
The NIH Pain Consortium is encouraging medical, dental, nursing and pharmacy schools to respond to a new funding opportunity to develop Centers of Excellence in Pain Education. On December 30, 2011, a Request for Proposals (RFP) was released by Altarum Institute and Palladian Partners, an Altarum company, on behalf of the NIH Pain Consortium, to develop and disseminate pain management curriculum resources for health care professionals and provide leadership for change in pain management education. NIDA’s Dr. Dave Thomas leads the project for the NIH Pain Consortium. For questions, contact Dr. Thomas. View the RFP ⇒

New findings on the active chemicals found in “bath salts” add justification to the growing health concern
Recent research by scientists at NIDA indicated that, just like MDMA (Ecstasy), the active compounds in “bath salts” — mephedrone and methylone — bind to monoamine transporters on the surface of some neurons. This in turn leads to an increase in the brain chemicals serotonin, and, to a lesser extent dopamine, suggesting a mechanism that could underlie the addictive potential of these compounds. The study was published in Neuropsychopharmacology. View the article ⇒

Family-centered program reduces substance use and conduct problems in rural black teens
NIDA-funded researchers have demonstrated that a family-centered program, the Strong African American Families-Teen (SAAF-T), reduces substance use, conduct problems, and symptoms of depression among black adolescents in a geographically rural area by more than 30% (compared to adolescents in a control condition) across nearly two years. View the article published in Pediatrics

Communities That Care program to prevent drug use makes good use of public dollars, analysis shows
A recent analysis by HHS-funded researchers showed that the Communities That Care (CTC) prevention program, a public health initiative aimed at reducing risky teen behaviors such as drug use, garners a positive return on investment that increases with time. According to the cost-benefit analysis, CTC programs showed $5 - $10 in returns for every $1 invested. Benefits stemmed from anticipated reductions in smoking-related mortality, improved health, lower medical expenses, and, mainly, from lower criminal justice system and crime victimization costs over the life course of program participants. View the article published in Prevention Science

New targets for medications hold promise for pain relief without side effects, two studies in mice show
Two NIDA-funded articles described new potential targets for the treatment of pain without significant side effects that limited their use, including the possibility of addiction. One study was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences and the other study was published in Nature Neuroscience. View the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences study ⇒ | View the Nature Neuroscience study ⇒

NOTE: If you cannot access a journal article, please check PubMed Central (PMC), the free, digital NIH archive of biomedical and life sciences journal literature.

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Other News

Society for Neuroscience (SfN) Meeting
Frontiers logo
NIDA staff attended and exhibited at the annual Society for Neuroscience Convention in Washington, D.C. in November. Highlights from the convention included presentations on Autism, Addiction and MeCP2, Synapse Organization and Plasticity in Drug Addiction, Using Optogenetic Tools to Shed Light on the Neural Mechanisms of Addiction and the Neurobiology of Behavioral and Emotional Regulation/Dysregulation. In addition, NIDA’s press team, along with the Addiction Studies Program, arranged a journalist workshop during the SfN Mini-Convention. This included a Q&A with Dr. Volkow, with over 30 reporters in attendance. Dr. Volkow was also interviewed by several media outlets at SfN, including Wall Street Journal, Addiction Inbox, and Houston Chronicle. Video interviews conducted with NIDA grantees and staff at the NIDA Mini-convention will appear on NIDA’s web and YouTube sites in early 2012.

NIDA grantee Dr. David Jentsch receives Jacob P. Waletzky Memorial Award
Dr. Volkow recognized NIDA grantee Dr. David Jentsch as the recipient of the 2011 Jacob P. Waletzky Memorial Award during the SfN Convention. Dr. Jentsch won for his studies on the genetic and neurochemical determinants of cognitive and executive functions, the mechanisms of action of psychotherapeutic drugs, novel strategies for modulating cognitive deficits in schizophrenia, addiction and ADHD, and animal models of psychiatric disorders. Established in 2003 by the Waletzky family, the SfN Jacob P. Waletzky Memorial Award is given to a young scientist (within 15 years of receiving a doctoral degree) for innovative research in substance abuse.

National High School Journalist Convention
National Scholastic Press Association logo
NIDA planned and participated in a two-hour prescription drug abuse panel during the National High School Journalism Convention held November 18th in Minneapolis, MN. OSPC’s Stephanie Older and Jen Elcano, and NIDA grantee Dr. Carol Boyd were panelists, and presented the latest scientific research and trends related to prescription drug abuse and NIDA’s resources for journalists. Over 50 student journalists and journalism advisors attended. NIDA’s press team also produced ads for the convention program and teacher/advisor registration bags to reach the 4,500 students and 800 publications advisors at the convention, which is sponsored by the Journalism Education Association (JEA) and the National Scholastic Press Association (NSPA).

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AIDS Memorial Quilt

NIDA Commemorates World AIDS Day
On November 8th, the NIH hosted Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton as she presented a vision for "Creating an AIDS-Free Generation," calling for a combination of proven strategies — including HIV treatment as HIV prevention — to achieve this worthy goal. In honor of World AIDS Day, Dr. Volkow distributed a Message from the Director highlighting Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton’s vision. Also, each year, NIDA displays several panels from the AIDS Memorial Quilt in the Neuroscience Center lobby.

NIDA’s Dr. Jag Khalsa attends CSAM Annual Conference
Dr. Jag Khalsa, Chief, Medical Consequences Branch at NIDA and Dr. Marc Ware, a physician from Montreal, participated in a debate about the merits of both inhaled and pharmacological THC preparations at the Canadian Society of Addiction Medicine’s Annual Conference on November 4-6, 2011 in Vancouver, Canada. Dr. Paul Sobey moderated the debate.

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From L to R: Drs. Paul Sobey, Jag Khalsa and Marc Ware

Dr. Petra Jacobs Delivers Greetings to Addiction Training Institute
PhDr. Magdalena Frouzova and Dr. Petra Jacobs

L to R: PhDr. Magdalena Frouzova and Dr. Petra Jacobs

Dr. Petra Jacobs, Assistant Director of NIDA’s Center for the Clinical Trials Network, delivered pre-recorded greetings on October 8th and 22nd to participants of the Addiction Training Institute in Prague, the Czech Republic. Dr. Jacobs congratulated the Institute founders, PhDr. Magdalena Frouzova and Prof. Jiri Heller, on the twenty year anniversary of starting the first systematic training on the psychotherapy of drug addiction. This Training Institute is one of the key Czech Institutes to guide professional development of clinicians and specialists working with patients with substance abuse and other mental illnesses.

IRP's Dr. Yavin Shaham appointed Senior Editor of Journal of Neuroscience
NIDA IRP's Dr. Yavin Shaham was recently appointed Senior Editor for the Journal of Neuroscience, covering issues on Behavioral/Systems/Cognitive Neuroscience. Congratulations Yavin!

Dr. Yavim Shaham

Drs. Michael Dennis and Christy Scott earn Hazelden's Dan Anderson Research Award
Drs. Christy Scott and Michael Dennis
Two NIDA grantees, Michael L. Dennis, Ph.D., Senior Research Psychologist at the Lighthouse Institute, Chestnut Health Systems, and Christy K. Scott, Ph.D., Research Psychologist at the Lighthouse Institute, have both earned the latest Dan Anderson Research Award for their long-term outcomes study examining the effectiveness of Recovery Management Checkups on treatment outcomes among adults attending alcohol/drug treatment. Sponsored by the Butler Center for Research at Hazelden, the award honors a single published article by a researcher who has advanced the scientific knowledge of addiction treatment and recovery.

Drs. Dennis and Scott earned the award for their study, "Four-year outcomes from the Early Re-Intervention (ERI) experiment using Recovery Management Checkups (RMCs)," soon to be published in an upcoming print issue of Drug and Alcohol Dependence. Drs. Dennis and Scott will accept the award this coming spring at the National Association of Addiction Treatment Providers (NAATP) annual conference in Phoenix.

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