Strategic Plan

Strategic Direction:

Promote basic research that applies state-of-the-art science and technologies to advance our understanding of the mechanisms mediating drug abuse and addiction:

Goal 1:  Validate targets and develop ligands to accelerate pharmacotherapy for drug addiction.

  • Isolate target receptors and endogenous ligands
  • Validate and/or test targets
  • Develop molecular entities, ligands and probes
  • Develop and validate behavioral screens to identify or predict treatment response
  • Support computational modeling for target validation and ligand development

Goal 2: Determine the molecular and cellular basis of vulnerability to addiction.

  • Identify genes and genetic variations
  • Identify epigenetic and non-coding regulators of gene expression
  • Use systems approaches to understand molecular and cellular interactions
  • Identify molecular determinants of HIV latency modified by drugs of abuse

Goal 3: Identify the neural circuits underlying drug addiction and their functional properties.

  • Determine the interactions of drug exposure, development, and microenvironment in shaping neural circuits
  • Map primary and compensatory connections and functional adaptations in neural circuits that arise from repeated intermittent exposure to and withdrawal from abused drugs
  • Identify the drug-related glia-neuronal adaptations that arise from repeated intermittent exposure to and withdrawal from drugs

Goal 4: Identify behavioral processes that underlie drug abuse and addiction.

  • Identify how environmental variables and behavioral phenotypes influence risk and protection
  • Develop paradigms that model the complexity of human addiction
  • Develop interventions to change behavioral trajectories of abuse and addiction
  • Examine neurobiological correlates and mechanisms of abuse-related behaviors

Goal 5: Promote cross-cutting NIDA priorities.

  • HIV/drug abuse interactions
  • Chronic pain
  • Sex/gender differences
  • Enhance training and career development opportunities


Annual evaluations address:

  • Number of grants funded that support each of the goals
  • List of publications that address each of the goals
  • Summary of significant findings and activities that mark progress toward the goals