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NIDA in the News

SEPTEMBER 2012


Press Releases

NIDA supports development of combined anti-heroin and HIV vaccine
Dr. Gary R. Matyas
Dr. Gary R. Matyas was selected as the 2012 recipient of the NIDA Avant-Garde Award for Medications Development. Matyas proposes to develop an effective, safe and easily manufactured combination anti-heroin/HIV vaccine that could treat heroin addiction while at the same time prevent HIV infection in those receiving the vaccine. Matyas, who works at the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research in Silver Spring, Md., will receive $1,000,000 per year for five years to support his research. This research competition, now in its third year, is intended to stimulate high-impact research that may lead to groundbreaking opportunities for the prevention and treatment of drug abuse. Dr. Matyas’ selection was announced during the XIX International AIDS Conference in Washington, D.C. and was covered by the Associated Press and reprinted in many print and online outlets. Read more ⇒

Prevention of HIV Spread Focus of NIDA’s 2012 Avant-Garde Awards
David Smith

Dr. David Smith

NIDA announced the recipients of the 2012 Avant-Garde Award for HIV/AIDS Research on July 23, 2012. The three scientists -- Drs. David Smith of the University of CA, San Diego School of Medicine; Samuel Friedman from the National Development and Research Institutes in NYC; and Jeremy Luban from the University of Massachusetts, Medical School in Worcester -- will each receive $500,000 per year for five years to support their research. NIDA's annual Avant-Garde award competition, now in its fifth year, is intended to stimulate high-impact research that may lead to groundbreaking opportunities for the prevention and treatment of HIV/AIDS in drug abusers. Read more ⇒ Media coverage included stories by KPBS and several other San Diego-based outlets.

Odds of quitting smoking affected by genetics
Genetics can help determine whether a person is likely to quit smoking on his or her own or need medication to improve the chances of success, according to research published in the American Journal of Psychiatry. Researchers say the study moves health care providers a step closer to one day providing more individualized treatment plans to help patients quit smoking. The study was supported by multiple components of NIH, including NIDA, the National Human Genome Research Institute, NCI, and the Clinical and Translational Science Awards program, administered by the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences. Read more ⇒

New dates. National Drug Facts Week begins Jan. 28, 2013
NIDA Drug Facts Week logo
NIDA announced its third annual National Drug Facts Week will be held Jan. 28 through Feb. 3, 2013, This week-long observance will bring together teens and scientific experts in community events across the country to discuss scientific facts about drug abuse. National Drug Facts Week encourages community-based events where teens ask questions of addiction scientists or educators familiar with NIDA's scientific materials. Events can be sponsored by a variety of organizations, including schools, community groups, sports teams, book clubs, and local hospitals. Read more ⇒

Optogenetics project takes top NIDA Addiction Science Award
2012 Addiction Science Award winners

2012 Addiction Science Award winners from left: L. Elisabeth Burton, Benjamin Jake Kornick, John Edward Solder, and NIDA’s Dr. Susan Weiss

A project that maps dopamine circuits in the prefrontal cortex through optogenetic manipulation was given top honors in this year’s annual Addiction Science Awards at the 2012 Intel International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF)—the world's largest science competition for high school students. The awards were presented by NIDA and Friends of NIDA, a coalition that supports NIDA’s mission. Read more ⇒ Media coverage included a story in BioOptics World. See tweet highlights from Intel ISEF 2012.

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Science Spotlights

Combined medication shows promise for treating cocaine addiction
NIDA-funded research in rats shows that using a combination of buprenorphine and naltrexone can reduce cocaine intake without producing opioid dependence — a promising step toward an effective medical treatment for cocaine addiction in humans, for which there are no current FDA-approved medications. View the abstract ⇒.

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

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Other News

NIDA Director Dr. Nora Volkow featured at Aspen Ideas Festival
AIF logo
NIDA’s Dr. Volkow spoke at the Aspen Ideas Festival July 2 in Aspen, Colorado. The festival, in its eighth year, was presented by the Aspen Institute and The Atlantic, and is a gathering of the world’s foremost thought leaders. Read more ⇒

Science Fair Winners Visit NIDA & IRP
2012 Addiction Science Award Winners

2012 Addiction Science Award Winners, their family members and NIDA Staff at NIDA IRP

On August 7th, NIDA hosted the 2012 Intel Science Fair Winners at NIDA HQ where they shared their presentations with staff. The winners also took a tour of the NIH Clinical Center and NIDA IRP campus.
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Caption L to R: John Edward Solder, Benjamin Jake Kornick, Yamini T. Naidu and L. Elisabeth Burton

2011 Award Winner Update: Last year’s third place winner, 17-year-old Yamini T. Naidu, a student at Valley Catholic High School in Beaverton, Oregon, just completed her internship at NIDA IRP in the Molecular Targets and Medications Discovery Branch, under Dr. Sergi Ferre. Her mentor was Dr. Xavier Guitart, and her project looked at how dopamine receptors might structurally combine to impact cocaine addiction and other neurological disorders. Yamini met the 2012 award winners during their visit to NIDA IRP.

NIH Pain Consortium Holds Kickoff Meeting
CoEPE team photo

CoEPE team, coordinated by NIDA’s Dave Thomas, third from right in front row. See list of names of the rest of the CoEPE team ⇒

The NIH Pain Consortium’s Centers of Excellence in Pain Education (CoEPE) program held its kickoff meeting in Bethesda, Maryland on July 10th. Representatives from 12 health professional schools met with Consortium members to discuss ways to build improved curriculum for safe and effective pain management in medical, nursing, pharmacy and nursing schools. NIDA’s Dave Thomas is coordinating the program. Read more about the CoEPE program and view participating schools ⇒

NIDA Hosts Screening of Addiction Incorporated
Photo of Dr. David Shurtleff, Charles Evans, Dr. Paul Mele, Dr. Nora Volkow, Victor DeNoble

From L to R: Dr. David Shurtleff, Charles Evans, Jr., Dr. Paul Mele, Dr. Nora Volkow, Dr. Victor DeNoble

On June 1, NIDA hosted a free screening of the major motion picture, Addiction Incorporated. This film tells the story of Dr. Victor DeNoble, a Phillip Morris research scientist who became one of the most influential whistleblowers in history, testifying before Congress about his findings on the addictive nature of nicotine. Members of the tobacco industry attempted to suppress his findings, which finally came to light during Congressional hearings in 1994 and ultimately resulted in the passage of the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act of 2009. Following the screening, DeNoble, Dr. Volkow and Charles Evans, Jr., the film’s director and producer, took questions from the audience.

International AIDS Conference
Dr. Volkow at XIX International AIDS Conference

NIDA Director Dr. Volkow speaks at XIX International AIDS Conference in Washington, D.C.

NIDA was prominently featured during the 2012 International AIDS Conference this past July in Washington, DC. On Sunday, July 22, NIDA participated in a joint-NIH press conference on advances in HIV/AIDS research. Media coverage included stories in USA Today, Nature News Blog, Science Speaks, and Los Angeles Times. NIDA also held a press conference to announce the 2012 Avant-Garde Awards for Medications Development. In addition, NIDA helped staff the NIH exhibit and updated the “Drug Abuse and HIV” Research Report to coincide with the conference. The report highlights the state of the science and raises awareness of the link between HIV/AIDS and drug abuse — not just injection drug use, but drug abuse in general.

NIDA’s "Easy-to-Read Drug Facts" Website Receives Awards
Easy-to-Read Drug Facts, WebHealth, and ClearMark logos
NIDA’s “Easy-To-Read Drug Facts” website was selected as a winner in the 14th annual Web Health Awards program. This competition, held twice each year, recognizes the nation’s best digital health resources. NIDA’s website received a Merit award for the Mobile Website category. The Web Health Awards program is organized by the Health Information Resource Center, a national clearinghouse for professionals who work in consumer health fields.

The easy-to-read website also received a ClearMark Award of Distinction in the website/dynamic media/public sector category. The ClearMark Awards are given to the best plain language documents and web sites. They are judged by a panel of international experts, following a strict set of criteria.

University of Maryland President Speaks to NIDA about Importance of Education
Dr. Freeman Hradowski

Dr. Freeman Hradowski speaks to NIDA staff

On June 7, Dr. Freeman Hradowski, III, President of the University of Maryland Baltimore County, spoke to NIDA senior staff about the importance of re-thinking teaching and learning in science and mathematics within middle schools, high schools and colleges in the U.S. Hradowski referenced figures that show alarming deficits in the numbers of students leaving colleges with degrees in these fields and suggested how government agencies, such as NIH, could work with schools to help fill those gaps. After the presentation, Hradowski spoke with Dr. Volkow about ways NIDA might encourage talented students to enter careers in mathematics and science.

NIHSeniorHealth Website Includes NIDA Facts about Drug Abuse in Older Adults
NIA logo
The NIHSeniorHealth Website has a new NIDA section titled “Prescription and Illicit Drug Abuse in Older Adults.” NIDA worked for several months with the National Institute on Aging (NIA) to develop this section. View the website ⇒. View NIH Press Release ⇒

NIDA invited to White House Event Honoring World Hepatitis Day
NIA logo

L to R: White House Director of Office of National HIV/AIDS Policy Dr. Colfax Grant; Dr. Jag Khalsa, NIDA; Dr. Ron Valdisseri, Deputy Director to the Assistant Secretary of DHHS

On August 2nd, Dr. Jag Khalsa, Division of Pharmacotherapies and Medical Consequences of Drug Abuse at NIDA, attended the White House Office of National AIDS Policy event in observance of World Hepatitis Day (July 28), along with other federal agencies, pharmaceutical industry leaders, and members of the hepatitis community. These experts discussed new diagnostics/tools and medications for the treatment of viral hepatitis, of which drug abuse plays a major role in its acquisition and transmission.

The NIDA Population Assessment of Tobacco and Health (PATH) Study Team Receives NIH Director’s Award
NIH logo
The NIDA Population Assessment of Tobacco and Health (PATH) Study Team received a NIH Director's Award at a ceremony held on July 18, 2012 at the Natcher Conference Center. The NIH Director’s Awards are presented annually to recognize superior performance or special efforts significantly beyond regular duty requirements and directly related to fulfilling the NIH mission. PATH is a large national longitudinal cohort study on tobacco use behavior and health in the United States. See Videocast ⇒

NIDA Grantee Receives White House PECASE Award
NIH logo
NIDA Grantee Dr. Krista M. Lisdahl from the University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee received the White House Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE) award for studies on the effects of physical activity and marijuana use on frontolimbic function in teens. The PECASE award is the highest honor bestowed by the U.S. government to outstanding scientists and engineers beginning their independent careers. Read Press Release ⇒ | View Bio ⇒

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