U.S. and French Researchers Focus on Binational Collaboration; Announce New NIDA-Inserm Fellows in Drug Abuse Research
NIDA International Program Director Steven W. Gust, Ph.D., left, and Mireille Guyader, Ph.D., Inserm, right, announced the first researchers awarded NIDA-Inserm Postdoctoral Drug Abuse Research Fellowships. The new fellows are, from left: Andrew Scheyer, Ph.D. candidate, Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine and Science; Vivien Zell, Ph.D., University of Strasbourg; and Yann Pelloux, Ph.D., Aix Marseille University.
Researchers from France and the United States presented research posters and exchanged ideas about binational research during the 2nd Workshop on France-USA Collaborative Initiatives in Addiction. Topics included addiction-related neuroimaging research, marijuana and alcohol research in an era of changing laws and policies, and the potential offered by large biorepositories to expand research into the genetics of addiction. NIDA Director Nora D. Volkow, M.D., and Mohamed Jaber, Ph.D., Laboratoire de Neurosciences Expérimentales et Cliniques, Poitiers, France, co-chaired the roundtable discussion. Speakers included National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) Director George Koob, Ph.D., who discussed the epidemiology of binge drinking among young people, and Jean-Pierre Changeux, Ph.D., Institut Pasteur, who reviewed advances in drug abuse neuroscience research. NIDA International Program Director Steven W. Gust, Ph.D., and Mireille Guyader, Ph.D., Institut National de la Santé et de la Recherche Médicale (Inserm), introduced the first researchers awarded NIDA-Inserm Postdoctoral Drug Abuse Research Fellowships, which provide 6 to 12 months of rigorous postdoctoral research training in the United States (for French applicants) or France (for U.S. applicants). The meeting was cosponsored by NIDA, NIAAA, Alliance Nationale pour les Sciences de la Vie et de la Sante (Aviesan), and Inserm. In addition, NIDA supported Dr. Changeux’s travel. The meeting was held at the Embassy of France on November 18, 2014, in Washington, DC. Other NIDA participants included Joni Rutter, Ph.D., and Jonathan Pollock, Ph.D., Division of Basic Neuroscience and Behavioral Research; Joseph Frascella, Ph.D., Division of Clinical Neuroscience and Behavioral Research; International Program Associate Director Dale Weiss; and Antonello Bonci, M.D., Yavin Shaham, Ph.D., and Amina S. Woods, Ph.D., Intramural Research Program.
The new NIDA-Inserm Fellows are:
Vivien Zell, Ph.D., University of Strasbourg, will investigate how glutamate-releasing neurons in the ventral tegmental area (VTA) contribute to brain function at the molecular, physiological, and behavioral levels and alter the reinforcement mechanisms that contribute to addiction. By identifying and assessing the function of genes enriched in VTA glutamate neurons, his results may suggest new targets or strategies to prevent or treat addiction. Dr. Zell also will investigate whether dopamine and glutamate are released from the same or separate synaptic vesicles, an important concept in presynaptic plasticity of the central nervous system. Dr. Zell’s mentor is Thomas Hnasko, Ph.D., University of California, San Diego.
Yann Pelloux, Ph.D., a postdoctoral researcher at the Centre national de la recherché scientifique (National Center for Scientific Research) at Aix Marseille University. During his postdoctoral research at the University of Cambridge, Dr. Pelloux established an animal model of cocaine seeking and relapse that demonstrated a subset of rats would continue seeking cocaine despite punishment, which mimics human patterns of addiction. Dr. Pelloux will use his NIDA-Inserm Fellowship to build on his Cambridge studies that found forebrain differences between compulsive and noncompulsive rats. Dr. Pelloux will use brain imaging and optogenetic techniques to compare neuronal activity in various brain regions and identify the neural networks involved in compulsive cocaine use and context-induced relapse. Dr. Pelloux’s mentor is Shaham Yavin, Ph.D., Intramural Research Program.
Andrew F. Scheyer, Ph.D. candidate, Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine and Science. Mr. Scheyer will study adult rats to examine the consequences of prenatal or adolescent exposure to the primary active ingredient of cannabis, ∆-9 THC. He will investigate whether cannabis exposure disrupts short- and long-term plasticity in the brain and if these functional changes contribute to behaviors that increase addiction vulnerability. In addition, he will test the viability of interventions using endocannabinoids to correct the behavioral consequences of prenatal and adolescent exposure to ∆-9 THC. Mr. Scheyer’s mentor will be 1997 NIDA INVEST Fellow Olivier Manzoni, Ph.D., Institut de neurobiologie de la méditerranée, in Marseille, France
International Drug Abuse Professionals Invited To Join NIDA National Drug Facts Week Activities
NIDA is inviting the international drug abuse research community to plan local activities in conjunction with NIDA National Drug Facts Week 2015. NIDA launched the school- and community-based event in 2010 to counteract the myths about drugs that teens get from the Internet, TV, movies, music, or friends. National Drug Facts Week helps empower teens to make smart decisions about the ill-fated effects and devastating consequences drugs have on the brain, body, and behavior. National Drug Facts Week 2014 was a huge success as educators, health professionals, and community organizations facilitated more than 1,000 events across the United States and around the world.
The 5th annual National Drug Facts Week is January 26 to February 1, 2015. Join the hundreds of researchers and public health professionals who have helped make National Drug Facts Week a success. NIDA offers an online toolkit with free materials for teens and suggestions on how to plan events and how to find experts who can participate. Some materials are available in Spanish, and NIDA staff members who participate in Drug Facts Chat Day speak several languages. For more information, visit the National Drug Facts Week website or email email@example.com.
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Online Registration Closes: May 1, 2015
InWomen’s 2015 Conference Abstracts Due January 13, 2015
Abstracts are now being accepted for the 2015 International Women’s and Children’s Health and Gender Working Group (InWomen’s) Conference, which will be held June 12, 2015, in conjunction with the NIDA International Forum and the College on Problems of Drug Dependence Annual Scientific Meeting. Merit-based travel awards are available for any investigator from a low- and middle-income country or investigators from developed countries with fewer than 7 years of experience following award of the terminal degree. Registration for the conference will be opened in February 2015.
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For more information, visit inwomen health or contact InWomen’s Chair Wendee Wechsberg, Ph.D., at firstname.lastname@example.org.
NIDA Organizes Symposium at ISAM Meeting
NIDA International Program Director Steven W. Gust, Ph.D., organized and co-chaired a symposium titled “Marijuana, Addiction Physicians, and Public Policy” at the International Society of Addiction Medicine (ISAM) meeting. Speakers included Jag H. Khalsa, Ph.D., NIDA Division of Pharmacotherapies and Medical Consequences of Drug Abuse, who reported on NIDA research into treatment medications, and Vladimir Poznyak, M.D., Ph.D., World Health Organization, who reported on global epidemiology of cannabis use and implications for public health. NIDA grantee Margaret Haney, Ph.D., Columbia University School of Medicine, presented the latest data on cannabinoid formulations, routes of administration, and treatment. Two speakers described the policy issues for addiction physicians in the United States: Stuart Gitlow, M.D., M.P.H., M.B.A., president of the American Society of Addiction Medicine, and Norman Wetterau, M.D., Tricounty Family Medicine and the University of Rochester, NY, School of Medicine. Gregory Bunt, M.D., Daytop Village, co-chaired the symposium. NIDA supported Dr. Haney’s travel for the symposium. The meeting attracted more than 445 participants from 43 countries. It was held October 2–6, 2014, in Yokohama, Japan.
NIDA Briefs Addiction Research Organizations
NIDA International Program Director Steven W. Gust, Ph.D., participated in the International Confederation of Alcohol, Tobacco and Other Drug Research Associations (ICARA) meeting, which was held in conjunction with the International Society of Addiction Journal Editors (ISAJE) meeting, September 4–5, 2014, in Chicago. Dr. Gust described the productive partnership between the NIDA International Program and ISAJE that is designed to help scientists from low- and middle-income countries (LMIC) publish their research results in peer-reviewed journals. NIDA has provided partial support for the ISAJE website Publishing Addiction Research Internationally (PARINT.org). A second NIDA-ISAJE initiative is an online writing mentor program where addiction journal editors provide one-on-one tutoring for LMIC researchers. NIDA also provides partial support for scientific writing workshops where ISAJE members train researchers in a specific country or region. Dr. Gust also summarized NIDA’s international mission, funding support, research priorities, and fellowship opportunities. ICARA is an international network of national, regional, and international societies that promotes research on alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs through professional exchange, collaboration, and advocacy.
International Teams Including Former Fellows Publish Results From Regional HIV Collaborative Research Grants
Former NIDA International fellows and their international partners have published findings from research funded through RFA-DA-10-008, International Research Collaborations on HIV/AIDS and Drug Use. The funding opportunity was issued to stimulate collaborative research among foreign investigators from the same geographic regions to address regional issues on the intersection of HIV/AIDS and drug use in international settings. The articles include:
Sergei Dvoryak, M.D., Ph.D., a 2001–2001 NIDA Hubert H. Humphrey Drug Abuse Research Fellow and 2010 INVEST/Clinical Trials Network Drug Abuse Research Fellow, is the Ukrainian principal investigator on a grant investigating HIV among prisoners in Ukraine. Dr. Dvoryak and colleagues found that half of HIV-positive prisoners were unaware of their status, and that injection drug use, being female, and having been incarcerated previously were all correlated with HIV infection. In the Journal of the International AIDS Society, the team recommends that HIV testing be conducted routinely for prisoners, and that opioid substitution and antiretroviral therapy be expanded in Ukraine.
An article in the Journal of Addiction was written by researchers from the United States, Russia, and two fellows from the Republic of Georgia, 2003–2004 NIDA Hubert H. Humphrey Drug Abuse Research Fellow David Otiashvili, M.D., and 2014 Distinguished International Scientist Collaboration Awardee Irma Kirtadze, M.D. The authors described a series of preliminary studies conducted as the team began developing a culturally sensitive, women-focused, comprehensive treatment program for Georgian women who inject drugs. The international team concluded that mixed methods research investigating the role of Georgian culture in perceived drug treatment needs and risky drug use and sexual behaviors was a crucial step in designing the feasibility and initial efficacy trials now underway.
NIDA, U.S. Department of State Welcome Humphrey Fellows
The 11 NIDA Hubert H. Humphrey Drug Abuse Research Fellows for 2014–2015 have begun their studies at Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU), met with NIDA officials, and participated in the U.S. Department of State Global Leadership Forum for Hubert H. Humphrey Fellows. On September 17–18, 2014, NIDA International Program Associate Director Dale Weiss and NIDA International Fellowships Administrator Lisa Jordre briefed the VCU cohort about NIDA’s mission, international priorities, and programs to promote collaborative research and scientific exchange about drug abuse and addiction. They also met with each fellow individually to learn about the fellow’s goals and to suggest potential professional affiliations. In November, 171 fellows from 98 countries participated in the Global Leadership Forum. During that event, Ms. Weiss and Brian Morales, U.S. Department of State Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL), led a discussion session about drug abuse and its consequences for health, social, economic, education, and criminal justice systems. Mr. Morales invited interested fellows to work with INL’s international partners in implementing demand reduction programs.
The 2014–2015 NIDA Hubert H. Humphrey Drug Abuse Research Fellows are:
Mariam Abdoh, M.Sc. (Jordan) Ms. Abdoh led the screening operations for the Jordan Breast Cancer Program in 2014, where she managed the national breast cancer screening and early detection projects for underprivileged communities and non-Jordanian refugees. She has managed public awareness campaigns, medical conferences, and professional training for medical professionals. During her fellowship, Ms. Abdoh will focus on noncommunicable disease prevention, particularly for underserved and minority populations, and on women’s health, including nutritional, political, and economic issues.
Yu Yu Aung, M.B.B.S., M.P.H. (Myanmar [Burma]) Dr. Aung has been working in health and development programs addressing HIV/AIDS, reproductive health, adolescent health and development, and capacity building for local nongovernmental organizations and community networks. As an HIV/AIDS national program officer in the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, Dr. Aung helped establish the first network of youth at high risk for HIV infection, Myanmar Youth Stars, to prevent HIV transmission. During her fellowship, Dr. Aung will expand her knowledge of the behavioral, social, neurocognitive, and emotional development processes of adolescents; key risk and protective factors affecting health-related behaviors; and designing HIV prevention programs for young people.
Nora Binishi, M.Sc. (Kosovo) An architectural engineer, Ms. Binishi is responsible for promoting hygienic maintenance, safety, and security for government buildings, such as the University Clinical Center of Kosovo, to ensure a clean and healthy environment for staff and patients. During her fellowship, Ms. Binishi will focus on learning how to raise awareness about the importance of maintaining hospital infrastructure, technical and environmental methods to reduce acquired infections in health care settings, and how to transform aging hospital buildings into modern health care facilities.
Mohammed Magdy Elhamshary, M.D., M.Sc. (Egypt) A doctoral candidate and an addiction specialist, Dr. Elhamshary provides psychopharmacological management and counseling for patients with substance use disorders. He is experienced in cognitive behavioral therapy, motivational interviewing, and family counseling. Working with nongovernmental organizations, he teaches parents how to detect and manage substance use by their children, trains mental health professionals in addiction medicine, and conducts research. During his fellowship, he will focus primarily on drug abuse prevention and treatment for adolescents in school and community settings.
Sylvester Ebenezer Nana Koomson, M.A. (Ghana) Mr. Koomson is the head of the Greater Accra Regional Office of the Ghana Narcotics Control Board, which coordinates drug law enforcement in Ghana. Prior to his current position, Mr. Koomson led the International Programs and Information Management section of the Ghana Narcotics Control Board. He focuses on substance abuse education and prevention, especially among youth, communities, and faith-based institutions. During his fellowship, Mr. Koomson hopes to expand his knowledge of substance abuse education, treatment, and prevention; obtain experience in designing, monitoring, and evaluating effective and efficient interventions; and better understand drug control legislation and policies.
Jean-Li Lim, M.D., M.Med., FRACGP, MAFPM (Malaysia) A primary care physician, Dr. Lim works with indigenous communities in Malaysia promoting long-acting reversible contraception to improve maternal health and the quality of life among women and their families. During her fellowship, she hopes to learn about assessing unmet health needs to design effective programs to improve sexual reproductive health practices among indigenous and marginalized women in Malaysia.
Abdul Subor Momand, M.D., M.P.H. (Afghanistan) In 2008, Dr. Momand was selected as the deputy program coordinator for drug demand reduction in the Afghani Ministry of Public Health. A trainer and supervisor in a community-based mental health program, he has taught health care professionals about common mental health and substance use disorders and joined the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime Afghan Country Office in 2012 as the national training officer for drug demand reduction. During his fellowship, Dr. Momand wants to learn how to develop and implement more effective drug control policies and strategies and community-based drug abuse prevention and treatment programs, especially for women and children.
Farheen Naveed (Pakistan) A certified substance abuse treatment practitioner, Ms. Naveed serves as a trainer for the Colombo Plan International Center for Certification of Addiction Professionals. She is the managing director of New Horizons Care Center, a pioneer in providing free treatment, rehabilitation, and reintegration services to people with substance use disorders, and the founding director of the Drug Free Pakistan Foundation, a nongovernmental organization that provides drug abuse prevention services. In 2009, she successfully convinced the Karachi city district government to launch the Drug Free Karachi program, establishing the largest addiction treatment hospital in Pakistan. Ms. Naveed was nominated as one of the 10 most inspiring women of Pakistan in 2014, and she was recently nominated for an N-Peace Award. Her goals for the fellowship include enhancing her knowledge of evidence-based prevention programs so that she can expand the prevention services available in Pakistan.
Francis Kofi Torkornoo, M.A. (Ghana) Mr. Torkornoo is the director of demand reduction for the Narcotics Control Board, the leading governmental agency in Ghana for drug law enforcement and demand reduction. He has developed a system to monitor precursor chemicals imported, distributed, or used in Ghana; expanded rehabilitation services; and worked on prevention and education programs to detect drug abuse among students in primary and secondary schools. During his fellowship, Mr. Torkornoo plans to study evidence-based substance abuse prevention and rehabilitation programs in the United States.
Nanda Myo Aung Wan, M.B.B.S., M.Med.Sc. (Myanmar [Burma]) A team leader in drug use prevention and treatment at the Ministry of Health Drug Treatment Hospital Myitkyina, Dr. Wan also provides HIV counseling and testing. He organized a steering committee of representatives from the government, international organizations, and nongovernmental organizations to coordinate harm reduction activities in Kachin State and is a member of the national coordination committee for harm reduction. Dr. Wan is also a monitoring and evaluating officer for methadone maintenance therapy in Kachin State. During his fellowship, Dr. Wan will focus on drug use prevention policy for children and adolescents. He would also like to improve his knowledge of research methodology and develop his ability to conduct a substance use survey among young people.
Geraldine Gonzalez Willim, M.S.W. (Paraguay) A registered private practice social worker, Ms. Willim is designing an educational project to train middle school teachers in drug prevention for the National Anti-Drug Secretariat. She was a director of cooperation at the SENAVITAT, worked at the National Secretariat for Social Action, and served as a qualitative investigation professor at the National University of Asuncion School of Social Work. During her fellowship, Ms. Willim hopes to expand her expertise in substance abuse prevention, treatment, monitoring, and research. She also seeks to learn how to design and implement effective prevention programs, especially those programs that train children and teenagers as antidrug leaders in their communities.