Return to the News and Events page.

NIDA in the News

July 2010

Research News

Inline Image

Rapid HIV Testing May Be Useful in Jails with Frequent Turnover, But More Research Needed
Correctional facilities represent an important opportunity to deliver HIV counseling and testing (C&T) services, particularly for persons who may be marginalized from testing and counseling services in their communities. Although many jails currently use standard HIV tests and counseling services, the lag time between testing and test results (often 7 - 10 days) presents a challenge since jail populations are often transient. To investigate the feasibility of rapid HIV testing with individualized prevention counseling, researchers, partially funded by NIDA, conducted a pilot study involving 264 newly incarcerated detainees. Read More ⇒

Buprenorphine - Promising Treatment for Preventing Relapse in HIV-Positive Released Prisoners
More than 7 million people in the U.S. are involved with some aspect of the criminal justice system. The drug abuse, mental health, and HIV treatment needs of this population are tremendous: approximately half of state and federal prisoners meet criteria for alcohol or drug addiction, with about 22,000 State and federal inmates known to be infected with HIV or to have confirmed AIDS at the end of 2006--a prevalence rate roughly 3 times that of the general U.S. population. This also makes criminal justice settings opportune venues for identifying and treating HIV and drug use disorders among high-risk populations and for intervening to counter the relapse-recidivism cycle, particularly within the 3-month period following release—a highly vulnerable time period for ex-offenders. Despite the fact that opioid agonist therapy (OAT), including methadone and buprenorphine/naloxone (BPN/NLX), has been shown to decrease heroin use, time to relapse, HIV risk behaviors, as well as increase retention in treatment, it has not been readily adopted by the criminal justice system. Researchers funded by NIDA recently conducted a randomized controlled trial to assess the feasibility of initiating BPN/NLX treatment among HIV-infected prisoners upon release. Read More ⇒

back to top Back to top

Press Releases

Neurobiological Circuits of Addiction: Significance for Psychiatric Practice
NIDA presented a special research track at the American Psychiatric Association's (APA's) 163rd annual meeting in New Orleans May 22-26. Called the "Neurobiological Circuits of Addiction: Significance for Psychiatric Practice," the sessions highlighted a wide range of topics from the brain mechanisms driving addictive behavior to important clinical issues such as treating smoking in patients with comorbid psychiatric disorders, as well as the unique problems facing military personnel and their families. Read More ⇒

Computer Modeling to Identify New Medications for Nicotine Addiction Wins First Place NIDA Addiction Science Award at 2010 Intel ISEF
A project using cutting edge computer modeling to identify potential new medications for nicotine addiction won first place distinction at the annual Addiction Science Awards at this year's Intel International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF) — the world's largest science competition for high school students. The Intel ISEF Addiction Science Awards were presented at an awards ceremony May 14 in San Jose, Calif., by NIDA and Friends of NIDA, a coalition that supports NIDA's mission. Read More ⇒

back to top Back to top

Notes to Reporters

Nanotechnology Breakthrough for Drug Delivery
A note to reporters was sent out on June 14 about the publication of the NIDA-funded study entitled "Programmable Transdermal Drug Delivery of Nicotine using Carbon Nanotube." The study, published in PNAS, focused on a new kind of transdermal nicotine delivery device that can be programmed to meet individual patient needs. This nanotechnology breakthrough has many potential applications for effective delivery of other therapeutic drugs. View the Study ⇒

NIDA Research on the Risks of Long Term Anabolic Steroid Use on the Heart
On April 27, NIDA distributed a note to reporters about a study in the American Heart Association Journal Circulation: Heart Failure. The article, entitled "Long Term Anabolic-Androgenic Steroid Use is Associated with Left Ventricular Dysfunction," summarized research from the Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston that looked at the risks of long-term anabolic steroid use on the heart. Specifically, the researchers were concerned that those who took this type of body-building drug over an extended period suffered more heart damage than expected.

New Study Finds Ecstasy Users Have Low Levels of Serotonin Transporters After All
NIDA-funded research published in the journal Brain was the subject of a May 18 note to reporters. The study was entitled "Decreased Cerebral Cortical Serotonin Transporter Binding in Ecstasy Users: a Positron Emission Tomography/ [11C] DASB and Structural Brain Imaging Study" and it found that people who abuse ecstasy--even at fairly moderate levels (i.e., 1-2 pills once or twice a month) display a measurable deficit in their brain serotonin system. Serotonin is a key neurotransmitter involved in mood regulation, sleep and memory. View the Study ⇒

New Study Explores Mechanism That Makes Memories Last
A note to reporters was sent out on May 23 about the publication of the NIDA-funded study entitled "Cortical DNA Methylation Maintains Remote Memory," published in Nature Neuroscience. The findings open up a whole new area of research potentially leading to new ways of improving memory when it fails due to a normal process of aging or a disease like Alzheimer's. This mechanism could be used to weaken or reverse undesirable memories, such as those underlying PTSD or the cravings that drive drug addiction. View the Study ⇒

back to top Back to top

Hot News

APA logo

NIDA's Research Track Receives Media Attention at American Psychiatric Association Meeting
NIDA received some national, local and trade media coverage, including stories in the Associated Press, Alcoholism & Drug Abuse Weekly, WWL-TV and APA Daily Bulletin, as a result of the annual American Psychiatric Association (APA) conference held in New Orleans, LA. Of particular interest to reporters was NIDA's latest research track highlighting a wide range of topics, including how disruptions in brain circuitry are linked to mental illness and addiction, what overeating and obesity have in common with drug addiction, promising treatments for addiction to marijuana, cocaine, nicotine and methamphetamines and how a web-based video doctor approach may help soldiers and their families deal with drug abuse related to combat stress.

INTEL ISEF Winners Coming to NIDA August 10
2010 Addiction Science Award Winners

2010 Addiction Science Award Winners: Joseph Yagoda (3rd place), Kevin Knight (2nd place), Ameya Deshmukh (1st place), Dr. Cindy Miner, Chief Judge for NIDA

Jada Nicole Dalley

Jada Nicole Dalley

Dr. Michael Rich, Ethan Garrett Guinn, and Dr. David Bickham

From L to R: Dr. Michael Rich, Ethan Garrett Guinn, and Dr. David Bickham

NIDA participated in the 2010 Intel International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF) — the world's largest science competition for high school students — awards ceremony held May 9-14 in San Jose, CA (see press release above). The three INTEL ISEF winners, whose projects were judged by NIDA, will be presenting their projects in the Director's Conference Room at 9:30 a.m. on August 10 - open to all.

In addition, 2009 winner Jada Nicole Dalley, who won first place for her science fair project on third hand smoke titled, "A Cytogenic Analysis of Genetic Mutation Induced by Cigarette Smoke in Drosophila Melanogaster," recently graduated from Keystone School in San Antonio, Texas. Jada spent five weeks as an intern in the Office of Science Policy & Communications before attending Elon University in North Carolina, where she is interested in studying business with a minor in communications. Jada helped NIDA plan for its upcoming National Drug Facts Week. Ethan Garrett Guinn, whose project on video games addiction won the INTEL ISEF second place award in 2008, is spending his summer in Boston, MA working with Dr. Michael Rich and Dr. David Bickham at a lab connected to Children's Boston Hospital. He is working on completing his data analysis and preparing for publication this summer of his research which should provide a better understanding of how American youths are playing video games and if there are "problems" associated with certain types of use. Congratulations to all!

NIDA'S Marilyn Huestis Receives Honorary Doctorate from University of Helsinki
Dr. Marilyn Huestis and Sir Alec Jeffreys

From L to R: Dr. Marilyn Huestis and Sir Alec Jeffreys, Professor of Genetics, University of Leicester, UK.

Dr. Marilyn Huestis, Chief of Chemistry and Drug Metabolism in the NIDA Intramural Research Program, recently received a Doctor Honoris Causa in Medicine and Surgery from the University of Helsinki School of Medicine in Finland - an impressive honor considering only 18 honorary doctors are selected once every 10 years. Several winners have been knighted by the Queen of England or are candidates for the Nobel Prize. Dr. Huestis was honored in the formal ceremony that maintains the traditional awarding of the green silk top hat, diploma and sword, which she is now allowed to carry in all academic events. Dr. Huestis was selected by the School of Medicine for her interesting and important research on in utero drug exposure conducted at the Intramural Research Program of NIDA. Dr. Huestis also was one of nine honorary doctors asked to present their work at a Symposium held during the event. Her lecture on "Advances in the Identification of In Utero Drug Exposure & Relationship to Neonatal Outcomes" was highlighted on the front page of the main Helsinki newspaper the next morning. The festivities lasted for four days and included a parade through the main square with honorary doctors carrying their sword, hat and diploma from the University to the Helsinki Cathedral, where a special mass was conducted in their honor. Dr. Huestis also holds an Adjunct Professor position at the Department of Epidemiology and Preventive Medicine in the School of Medicine, University of Maryland in Baltimore. She is the primary mentor to seven students who have completed their doctoral degrees in toxicology and has six more in the process, which she considers one of her most important accomplishments.

back to top Back to top

Other News

Science Education Grantee Wins AAAS Award
Science education grantee Louisa Stark, from the Genetics Learning Center at the University of Utah, developed a web module on the "New Science of Addiction: Genetics and the Brain". She was named the winner of the Science prize for online resources in education from the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). View the Web Module ⇒ | View the Story ⇒

Louisa Stark photo

NIDA Staffer Receives Award at CPDD
Dr. Cora Lee Wetherington received the J. Michael Morrison Award presented by the College on Problems of Drug Dependence (CPDD), recognizing her outstanding contributions in the area of scientific administration related to drugs of abuse. The award was presented June 13 at the Plenary Session of the College's seventy-second annual meeting held in Scottsdale, AZ. Since 1995, Dr. Wetherington has served as NIDA's Women and Sex/Gender Differences Research Coordinator and is a NIDA program officer in the Behavioral Sciences Research Branch within the Division of Basic Neuroscience and Behavior Research.

Dr. Cora Lee Wetherington photo

Timely Briefing on Treating Drug Addiction Engages Audience
Charles B. O'Keeffe, MBA; Nora D. Volkow, MD; A. Thomas McLellan, PhD; William L. Dewey, PhD photo

From Left to Right: Charles B. O'Keeffe, MBA; Nora D. Volkow, MD; A. Thomas McLellan, PhD; William L. Dewey, PhD

On May 1, Friends of NIDA presented a Capitol Hill briefing on developing medications to treat drug addiction and implications for policy and practice. Dr. Volkow and A. Thomas McLellan, PhD, Deputy Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP), addressed an interested audience of congressional staff members, addiction treatment professionals, and advocates. Dr. Volkow presented breakthrough science supported by NIDA and explained the barriers to funding for key medication research, including stigma of addiction as a major barrier. Following the presentations, congressional staff members were eager to learn how Congress can act to promote medication development research and addiction treatment. A lively question and answer session focused on several points, including the role Congress can play to incentivize pharmaceutical companies to fund research on developing medications to treat addiction.

NIDA Wins Plain Language Awards
Plain Language Logo
Three NIDA products, including the Sara Bellum blog, the NIDAMED initiative and NIDA's video series for teens, received NIH Plain Language Awards at a ceremony held on May 26. The annual NIH Plain Language Award ceremony honors outstanding NIH communication products, including websites, fact sheets, multi-media presentations, and other materials. Check out these excellent products at

back to top Back to top

Who's Who at NIDA

Petra Jacobs, Assistant Director for the Center of the Clinical Trials Network (CCTN) Photo

This month N2 talks with Petra Jacobs, Assistant Director for the Center of the Clinical Trials Network (CCTN).

N2: What is the CTN and how did it get started?

Dr. Jacobs: The CTN is a partnership between prominent universities and leading community-based drug abuse treatment programs (CTPs) across the United States. NIDA established the CTN 10 years ago in order to bridge the gap between frontline community practice and rigorous research.

N2: As you celebrate the tenth anniversary, what are the CTN's greatest accomplishments?

Dr. Jacobs: First of all, community-based treatment programs, in collaboration with their partner universities, have proven that they can implement very rigorous multisite clinical trials; in this way and in many others, the CTN has been on the leading edge of the NIH in conducting translational research, community participatory research, and comparative effectiveness research. Moreover, the CTN has been able to efficiently recruit and retain difficult to reach study populations (adolescents, drug users with co-occurring ADHD, pregnant women who are drug abusers, etc.)

N2: What is the role of the CTN Steering Committee (SC)?

Dr. Jacobs: The SC is the governing body of the CTN. The committee includes equal numbers of university investigators and representatives from community-based treatment programs. The SC, working with NIDA, sets the scientific agenda of the CTN. The group meets face to face at least twice a year and appoints committees and task forces as needed, to address operations, publications, trials performance, etc.

N2: What is the role of the CCTN (Center for the Clinical Trials Network) team here at NIDA?

Dr. Jacobs: The CCTN is the NIDA office which oversees the CTN program, making sure that the Network's efforts are consistent with NIDA priorities and NIH policies. CCTN staff is directly involved in the scientific, administrative, and operational management of the CTN.

N2: What is the best thing about your job?

Dr. Jacobs: The best thing about my job is seeing so many real world issues addressed by an extremely competent group of scientists and treatment providers. Moving into previously hard to reach areas (like general medical settings or e-Health) is more feasible and more fun when research creates the basis for communication between parties who may not necessarily have had the same goals or value systems. CTN researchers, treatment providers, and CCTN staff are very dedicated to finding solutions to the disease of addiction. I love being part of this endeavor!

back to top Back to top