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Saudi Research Center Holds First International Meeting

The Substance Abuse Research Center (SARC) at Jazan University in Saudi Arabia hosted its first international addiction research conference March 5–6, 2013, for more than 300 participants, including speakers from Africa, Europe, the Middle East, Saudi Arabia, and the United States. U.S. speakers at the conference included Fahmy Tarazi, M.D., Harvard Medical School; Gantt Galloway, D.Pharm., California Pacific Medical Center Research Institute; and David Farabee, Ph.D., and Richard Rawson, Ph.D., University of California, Los Angeles. Ahmed Elkashef, M.D., formerly of the NIDA Division of Pharmacotherapies and Medical Consequences of Addiction and now head of the Research and Clinical Studies Section at the United Arab Emirates National Rehabilitation Center, also presented at the conference. Rashad Bin Mohammed Al Sanosy, M.D., is the SARC director, and Maged el-Setouhy, M.D., is the scientific director. Abdullah Sharqi, M.D., chairs the international advisory board, which includes Drs. Elkashef and Rawson. SARC currently funds 11 grants, focusing primarily on amphetamine and khat use disorders. SARC reports that amphetamine use is widespread throughout Saudi Arabia and that khat use is epidemic in the Jazan region, which borders Yemen. Around 50% of men and an increasing percentage of women are reported to use khat daily in the region. The SARC grants include studies on the impact of khat and chewing tobacco on oral disease, reasons that khat users decide to stop using, the impact of khat on the Jazan regional economy, and the impact of antikhat policies. SARC and the King Abdul Aziz City for Science and Technology also are supporting a placebo-controlled trial of bupropion to treat excessive khat use. The Saudi Arabian Ministry of Education established SARC in 2011 to build capacity in addiction research. Plans are underway to expand the research portfolio, recruit additional research faculty, and develop pre- and postdoctoral training programs in addiction research. For more information, visit the SARC website.

This page was last updated April 2013