NIDA International Forum Explores International Research Advances
Speakers and participants at the 2018 NIDA International Forum included (left photo, left to right) Steven Gust, NIDA; Thomas Babor, University of Connecticut; Olena Leonchuk, North Carolina State University; and J. Randy Koch, Virginia Commonwealth University; (top right photo, left to right, Martin Agwogie, Nigeria; Anthony Koliha, U.S. Department of State; and Rabia Hanif, Pakistan; (bottom right photo) Linda Cottler, University of Florida; (center photo, left to right) Igor Koutsenok, University of California San Diego; and Elizabeth Sáenz, United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime.
More than 225 participants from 46 nations attended the 23rd Annual National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) International Forum, held June 8–11, 2018, in San Diego, California. International Program Director Steven W. Gust, Ph.D., chaired the meeting. A joint NIDA International Forum/College on Problems of Drug Dependence (CPDD) poster session featured presentations on international research conducted by 131 scientists from the United States and 34 other countries. Plenary sessions addressed the partnership between NIDA and CPDD, estimating the harms and the economic burden of substance use in Canada, adulteration of drugs with toxic cutting agents, opioid overdose prevention, kratom use, international Addiction Technology Transfer Centers, and the International Consortium of Universities for Drug Demand Reduction. Breakout sessions focused on evidence-based demand reduction, animal-assisted interventions for addiction treatment and prevention, preparing international research for publication, and the impact of the Hubert H. Humphrey Drug Abuse Research Fellowships on global drug research networks and fellows’ career development.
More details about the 2018 NIDA International Forum are available online:
ICRS Honors NIDA Grantee
A NIDA grantee was honored with a lifetime achievement award, and NIDA staff members presented research findings during the 28th International Cannabinoid Research Society (ICRS) Symposium, which was held June 30–July 5, 2018, in Leiden, The Netherlands.
The ICRS Lifetime Achievement Award was presented to Cecilia J. Hillard, Ph.D., director of the Neuroscience Research Center and a professor in the Medical College of Wisconsin Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology. Dr. Hillard investigates the biochemical mechanisms involved in the synthesis, release, and degradation of endocannabinoids; the role of endocannabinoid signaling in the regulation of mood and responses to stress; and the role of cannabinoids in regulating the immune response. Her ICRS presentation discussed recent data on the involvement of microglial CB2 receptor expression in response to cocaine.
NIDA International Program Director Steven W. Gust and NIDA Division of Therapeutics and Medical Consequences Regulatory Affairs Branch Chief Bob Walsh presented a poster about marijuana and cannabinoid research products available from NIDA. Presenters from the NIDA Intramural Research Program included Eliot Gardner, former NIDA INVEST Fellow Zheng-Xiong Xi, and Chloe Jordan.
The meeting is supported by a NIDA conference grant (R13DA016280) to provide student travel grants, career development, translational programming, awards for pre- and postdoctoral presenters, and an online abstract book. Read the ICRS 2018 abstract book.
NIDA Humphrey Fellow Wins CPDD International Committee Award for Best Poster
Wendy Kliewer, Virginia Commonwealth University, left, and Rabia Hanif, Pakistan, with their award-winning poster.
NIDA Hubert H. Humphrey Fellow Rabia Hanif, Pakistan, received the 2018 College on Problems of Drug Dependence (CPDD) International Committee Award for Best International Research Poster. The committee reviews posters submitted to the joint NIDA International Forum/CPDD International Research Poster Session by researchers from low-, lower middle-, and upper middle-income countries. The winner receives 3 nights’ lodging at the conference hotel for the CPDD Annual Scientific Meeting in 2019 or 2020. Ms. Hanif is a 2017–2018 NIDA Hubert H. Humphrey Drug Abuse Research Fellow who is completing her doctorate. Her poster was "Personality traits differentiate Pakistani males in recovery versus relapse from substance use disorders." Her coauthor on the poster was Dr. Wendy Kliewer, professor and chair of the Virginia Commonwealth University Department of Psychology. The semifinalists were Elena Blokhina, Russia, and Antonio Pascale, Uruguay. Dr. Blokhina’s poster was "Craving, drugs, and alcohol use by HIV-positive patients with opioid use disorder stabilized on naltrexone." Dr. Pascale’s poster was "Marijuana users seeking treatment in Uruguay: A clinical characterization in the frame of cannabis market regulation."
The 2018 judges included International Committee Chair Clyde McCoy, University of Miami; Committee members Suzanne Nielsen, Monash University, Australia; and Renee Goodwin, City University of New York and Columbia University; former CPDD Treasurer Linda Cottler, University of Florida; and NIDA International Program Director Steven Gust. Dr. Nielsen coordinated the judging of 73 eligible posters.
Brazil’s CPAD Celebrates Its 20th Anniversary
After 20 continuous years conducting research in the field of drug and alcohol abuse and dependence, Brazil’s Center for Drug and Alcohol Research (CPAD) is preparing for its next era. On July 2nd, professionals from Brazil, Chile, and Uruguay gathered at a symposium in Porto Alegre, Brazil, to discuss research priorities and to celebrate CPAD's success.
The Center was created by its current director, Flavio Pechansky, M.D., Ph.D.; Lisia Von Diemen, M.D., Ph.D.; and Felix Kessler, Ph.D. The three are professors in the Department of Psychiatry at the Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul (UFRGS). Dr. Pechansky was a 1993–1994 NIDA Hubert H. Humphrey Drug Abuse Research Fellow, and Dr. Kessler received a 2013 NIDA Distinguished International Scientist Collaboration Award. Originally, CPAD was one of the five research offices of the University of Delaware’s Center for Drug and Alcohol Studies, under the guidance of the late NIDA grantee, James A. Inciardi, Ph.D. Since 2009, CPAD has been an independent center housed in Hospital de Clinicas of Porto Alegre, a large teaching hospital affiliated with UFRGS.
CPAD has made a substantial contribution to knowledge and understanding of Brazil’s large drug and alcohol abuse problem, particularly with regard to publications, staff training, and collaborative work with other research centers. CPAD has competitively obtained more than $15 million in research funding, mostly from NIDA, the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, Bloomberg Philanthropies, Brazil’s National Research Council, and the Brazilian National Secretariat for Drug and Alcohol Policies, through a recently founded Collaborative Center. CPAD has maintained connections with many international collaborators from the universities of Kentucky and Pennsylvania, the Norwegian Institute of Public Health, and Canada’s Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, McGill University, and Université de Sherbrooke.
CPAD’s strong trajectory is also reflected in its numbers: CPAD staff members have published more than 200 papers in peer-reviewed journals, 85 book chapters, and 12 books. They have made about 500 presentations in symposia and conferences in Australia, Brazil, Europe, North America, and South America. CPAD also has been a steady hub for professional training: more than 7,000 professionals were directly trained by its staff, ranging from highway patrol officers to health professionals, safety enforcement professionals, and undergraduate and postgraduate students in psychology, psychiatry, nursing, social work, pharmacy, engineering, and biomedicine.
CPAD focuses on the epidemiology of risk and protective factors for drug users; the relationship between alcohol, drugs, and driving; psychiatric comorbidity; brain damage; and promising therapeutic approaches for drug users.
According to Dr. Pechansky, "Over the course of our history, we have been successful in developing and sustaining a research structure while surfing the ups and downs of national and international research funding during these 20 years. The challenge is to expand the Center’s activities and direct them toward translational research, with more "hands-on" projects focused on CPAD's target areas."
2019 NIDA International Forum Abstract Submission To Open in November 2018 - Save the Date!
The abstract submission and travel award application system for the 2019 NIDA International Forum will be online in November 2018. The Forum will provide professional development and networking opportunities and report on global issues in drug abuse. The meeting will be held June 14–17, 2019, in San Antonio, Texas. The agenda will feature workshops and breakout sessions on Friday, June 14, a daylong symposium on Saturday, June 15, and a joint NIDA International Forum/CPDD international research poster session on Monday, June 17. The Forum is held in conjunction with the College on Problems of Drug Dependence (CPDD) Annual Scientific Meeting. The two meetings have separate abstract submission, travel award, and registration processes.
NIDA Plans Poster Session and Travel Awards for 2019 SPR Research Meeting
The NIDA International Program and the Division of Epidemiology, Services and Prevention Research will host the 12th Annual NIDA International Society for Prevention Research (SPR) Poster Session. The SPR 27th Annual Meeting will focus on the use of "big data" in designing and evaluating prevention interventions. The meeting will be held May 28–31, 2019, in San Francisco, California. The NIDA International SPR Poster Session will take place in conjunction with the SPR opening reception, following the preconference workshops on May 28, 2019. NIDA will provide a limited number of travel awards to provide partial support for international researchers whose abstracts have been accepted for presentation at the 2019 NIDA International SPR Poster Session. More details about the meeting, including the call for abstracts, will be online in late September at www.preventionresearch.org.
International Organizers Invited To Participate in NDAFW
NIDA and the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) invite international substance abuse professionals to host events during the 2019 National Drug and Alcohol Facts Week® (NDAFW), to be held January 22–27. International schools are also invited to participate in Chat Day on January 24, 2019, where students in registered high schools may submit online questions about substance abuse to National Institutes of Health experts. NIDA and NIAAA cosponsor the international health information program that supports locally planned and hosted school and community events to provide teens with scientific facts about drugs and alcohol. Suggested activities from previous NDAFW event planners include:
Conduct events with afterschool programs, clubs, or sports teams.
Build drug and alcohol facts into creative assignments such as videos, art projects, and creative writing assignments, to be displayed during NDAFW.
Use the morning announcements to shatter a different drug myth each day during NDAFW.
Host an information session for parents and community members.
Create a series of social media messages or posters to help youth understand the real statistics on drug and alcohol use.
For more information, see the NDAFW online guide.
NIDA Awards Postdoctoral Fellowships to International Addiction Researchers
NIDA has awarded postdoctoral fellowships to scientists from Russia and Spain. The fellows will work with mentors who are NIDA grantees at the mentors' institutions in the United States.
The NIDA INVEST Drug Abuse Research Fellow is Marina Vetrova, M.D., a researcher at First Pavlov State Medical University, St. Petersburg, Russia. She will investigate the relationships between HIV infection, substance use stigma, initiation of antiretroviral treatment, and achievement of viral load suppression from both patient and health care provider perspectives. Further studies will assess provider attitudes as a potential source of stigma experienced by people who use drugs and have HIV infection. Dr. Vetrova will work with Jeffrey Samet, M.D., M.P.H., Boston University Schools of Medicine and Public Health.
Esperanza Romero Rodríguez, M.D., is an emergency doctor in the Spanish National Health System. She will use her NIDA INVEST/Clinical Trials Network (CTN) Drug Abuse Research Fellowship to assess the associations between marijuana and cocaine use, heavy drinking, abstinence, alcohol consequences, and health-related quality of life. She will conduct a secondary analysis of prospectively collected data from the Boston University Alcohol Disorder Hospital Treatment (ADOPT) study. Her mentor is Richard Saitz, M.D., M.P.H., Boston University School of Public Health.
NIDA Awards Tuition Waiver for Researcher Attending Dutch Summer Institute on Alcohol, Drugs, and Addiction
The NIDA International Program provided a full-tuition scholarship to a researcher from the University of Texas at Dallas (UTD) to participate in the 2018 Dutch Summer Institute on Alcohol, Drugs, and Addiction. Taylor Mackenzie, a doctoral student at UTD, has clinical experience in counseling individuals involved in the criminal justice system and basic science research experience in using imaging to identify the underlying neural mechanisms of addiction. She is a member of the research team on a NIDA-funded grant with colleagues in The Netherlands.
The multidisciplinary summer training program in addiction research was held July 1–13, 2018, at the University of Amsterdam. Participants included graduate and postdoctoral students, physicians, outreach workers, and program administrators. They joined addiction professionals to learn about the intersection of policy models, prevention, evidence-based treatment, and ways to bridge the gap between research and practice. Kristen G. Anderson, Ph.D., Reed College, is academic director of the Dutch Summer Institute.
Journal Article Highlights Opioid Use Disorder Treatment Research by NIDA International Fellows
A July 2018 article in Current Opinion in Psychiatry reviewed 26 articles about opioid use disorder treatment research written by 13 former NIDA International fellows from 9 countries. The article concludes (1) research conducted outside the United States can inform approaches to addressing the ongoing opioid crisis in the United States; (2) studies in countries with well-established health care systems have demonstrated the effectiveness of physician office-based opioid substitution therapies, which variously improved treatment uptake and outcomes while reducing barriers such as access to treatment, stigma, concurrent use of other substances, criminality, or incarceration rates; (3) studies in several countries demonstrated that changes in regulations and best practices related to naloxone have significant benefit in reducing opioid overdose deaths; and (4) research into implementation of evidence-based treatment in international settings with limited resources is applicable to U.S. regions that face similar geographical, fiscal, legal, and structural constraints. The authors also described the impact of the NIDA International Program on international drug abuse research collaboration. Since 1990, NIDA has supported research-training fellowships for nearly 500 postdoctoral researchers, mid-career professionals, and senior scientists from 110 countries. In 2016–2017, former NIDA fellows published 521 unique research articles indexed by PubMed. International Program Director Steven W. Gust, Ph.D., and IQ Solutions Consultant Judy McCormally, M.Sc., coauthored the review article, which is available in PubMed Central.
Former NIDA Fellow Assesses Impact of Mexican Drug Law Reforms on HIV Transmission
In an article published early online by Lancet Public Health, former NIDA U.S.–Mexico Drug Abuse Research Fellow Annick Borquez, Ph.D., and colleagues concluded that the Mexican drug law reforms of 2009 have had a negligible effect on the HIV epidemic in Tijuana. The law allows for personal consumption of certain drugs and mandates drug treatment rather than incarceration after a third apprehension. The authors found that between 2012 and 2017, the new law averted only 2% of new HIV infections among people who inject drugs (PWID). Using epidemic modeling, they predicted that 21% of new HIV infections could be prevented between 2018 and 2030 if PWID were referred to opioid agonist treatment instead of incarceration. They noted, however, that implementation of the 2009 law was marred by lack of police training and lack of evidence-based drug treatment. Beginning in 2014, “treatment” consisted of compulsory abstinence, which has proven to be detrimental in other settings and in Tijuana often involved police abuse and traumatic experiences for PWID. The authors predict that continuing to rely on compulsory abstinence could potentially increase the number of new HIV infections by as much as 2% between 2018 and 2030. An accompanying commentary reminds policymakers and researchers that it is imperative to monitor and evaluate the implementation of policy reforms. Read the open access article.