Twice each decade, NIDA (like other NIH Institutes and NIH as a whole) drafts a strategic plan to guide its research and funding decisions. NIDA’s strategic plan is meant to be a high-level articulation of our principles and priorities over the next five years, and how we intend to apply them to capitalize on exciting opportunities or break down research barriers. NIDA has begun drafting its strategic plan for 2021-2025, and to best inform that process, we are seeking input from the public and the scientific community.
The current outline includes elements ranging from basic science to generate knowledge about the brain and how drugs affect it, to clinical, implementation and policy research in healthcare, justice, and other settings. Translational science will accelerate deployment of research findings to inform policy and practice. Specifically, the plan has three main goals:
- Understand Drug Use, Addiction, and the Brain.
- Develop and Test Novel Prevention, Treatment, and Recovery Support Strategies.
- Implement Evidence-Based Strategies in Real-World Settings.
The goals also share three major cross-cutting research approaches identified in the strategic plan outline: leveraging knowledge, technology and innovation, capitalizing on big data analytics and open data sharing, and developing models that capture the real-world complexity of substance use (for instance, use of multiple substances).
We have also identified four topics that straddle multiple goals and that merit specific focus in the years to come: finding ways to reduce the stigma around substance use and use disorders; finding ways to reduce health disparities; understanding sex/gender differences related to substance use and addiction; and understanding the relationships between substance use and other co-occurring conditions like HIV, pain, and mental illness.
The strategic plan is not intended as an exhaustive or prescriptive list of everything NIDA will be doing and funding. NIDA will remain committed to supporting promising research based on investigators’ ideas even when those fall outside these priority areas of focus. But the plan serves as an overarching vision to shape addiction science through our activities over the next five years, as well as a constant reminder of top research topics to address as they appear from our vantage point in the present.
The strategic plan will also have a section outlining how NIDA intends to responsibly steward its public funds over the next five years. Key focus areas including promoting high quality research training and a diverse research workforce, effectively translating and disseminating NIDA-funded research to inform policy and practice, fostering collaboration with public and private partners, supporting the development of a cutting-edge research infrastructure, and doing everything possible to enhance the rigor and reproducibility of scientific evidence.
For more information, including the complete draft outline and instructions for contributing comments, see NIDA’s request for Information (RFI). Again, members of the public as well as the research community are strongly encouraged to respond. Responses are due August 7th to the NIDA Strategic Plan inbox as noted in the RFI.
NOTE: To be considered by the NIDA Strategic Planning Committee, comments must be emailed to NIDAStrategicPlan@nida.nih.gov.