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NIDA International Forum Turns 20; Focuses on Opportunities for International Collaboration and Multidisciplinary Initiatives

Dale Weiss, NIDA; Richard Isralowitz, Israel; Steve Gust, NIDA
NIDA International Program Director Steven W. Gust, right, and Associate Director Dale Weiss with Richard Isralowitz, Israel. Dr. Isralowitz and his colleagues were recognized during the 2015 NIDA International Forum for their work in areas where conflict and traumatic conditions are common.

More than 200 participants from 45 countries participated in the 20th Annual NIDA International Forum, which was held June 12–15, 2015, in Phoenix, Arizona. International Program Director Steven W. Gust, Ph.D., chaired the meeting. A joint College on Problems of Drug Dependence (CPDD)/NIDA International Forum poster session featured presentations on international research by 136 scientists from the United States and 43 other countries.

NIDA Division of Extramural Research Director Susan Weiss, Ph.D., reviewed developments, priorities, and opportunities in the NIDA research portfolio; recent research findings on marijuana; new Institute foci on improving reproducibility of results and access to data; and multidisciplinary initiatives. Representatives of U.S. and international organizations described programs that support addiction research, prevention, and treatment around the world. Speakers included Brian A. Morales, M.A., U.S. Department of State Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs; Anja Busse, M.S., M.P.H., United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC); Nita Lalla Roncone, M.S.W., U.S. Office of National Drug Control Policy; Vladimir Poznyak, M.D., Ph.D., World Health Organization (WHO); and Igor Koutsenok, M.D., M.S., UNODC.

To mark the 20th anniversary of the NIDA International Forum, Dr. Gust reviewed the history, growth, and outcomes of the meeting. NIDA International Program Associate Director Dale S. Weiss moderated a panel discussion by Forum participants who described how the meeting affected their careers in drug abuse. The panelists included Zulvia Syarif, M.D., University of Indonesia; Silvia L. Cruz, Ph.D., Cinvestav, Mexico; Bronwyn Myers, Ph.D., M. Soc. Sci., South African Medical Research Council; and Valeriy Ryabukha, L.L.M., “Choice” Prevention Center, Ukraine. During the discussion, Dr. Poznyak of WHO noted that the NIDA International Forum is unique in creating opportunities for scientists of different generations to interact, learn, mentor, and participate in a poster session that includes highly qualified researchers from around the world. Marya Hynes, M.H.S., Inter-American Drug Abuse Control Commission (CICAD) at the Organization of American States, agreed, saying that many of CICAD’s important initiatives began from networking at the Forum. Robert L. Balster, Ph.D., Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU), a speaker at the 1996 meeting and a past president of CPDD, noted that CPDD had benefitted greatly from the increased participation of international researchers attracted to the larger scientific meeting by the NIDA International Forum. Dr. Gust thanked 17 “pioneers” who attended both the 1996 and 2015 Forums for their generosity in helping junior scientists build international research careers. He also acknowledged his predecessor at the International Program, M. Patricia Needle, Ph.D., who chaired the first Forum, and Ivan D. Montoya, M.D., M.P.H, Division of Pharmacotherapies and Medical Consequences of Drug Abuse, who as a former Hubert H. Humphrey Fellow chaired the international organizing committee for the 1996 meeting.

NIDA staff chaired and spoke during several breakout sessions. Ms. Weiss co-chaired the NIDA International Networking Session with J. Randy Koch, Ph.D., VCU. Office of Science Policy and Communications Director Jack Stein, Ph.D., discussed National Drug Facts Week, and NIDA Hubert H. Humphrey Drug Abuse Research Fellow Mohammed Elhamshary, M.D., M.Sc., described implementing Drug Facts Week in Egypt. Yu “Woody” Lin, Ph.D., Division of Clinical Neuroscience and Behavioral Research, chaired a session on NIDA AIDS and addiction research in Vietnam, and Carmen Rosa, M.S., Center for the Clinical Trials Network, co-chaired a session on implementation science and evidence-based treatments in Latin America.

This page was last updated September 2015