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NIDA in the News

JUNE 2012

Research News and Press Announcements

NIH selects 11 Centers of Excellence in Pain Education
The NIH Pain Consortium has selected 11 health professional schools as designated Centers of Excellence in Pain Education (CoEPEs). The CoEPEs will act as hubs for the development, evaluation, and distribution of pain management curriculum resources for medical, dental, nursing and pharmacy schools to enhance and improve how health care professionals are taught about pain and its treatment. Twenty institutes, centers and offices at NIH are involved in the consortium. Read more ⇒

The NIH Pain Consortium Centers of Excellence in Pain Education Team led by NIDA's Dave Thomas
Dr. Volkow with Science Fair winners

From L to R (back row): Dave Thomas (NIDA); Alex Blum (OBSSR); Partap Khalsa (NCCAM); John Glowa (NCCAM); Basil Eldadah (NIA). From L to R (middle row): Emmeline Edwards (NCCAM); Tonse Raju (NICHD); Lisa Begg (ORWH); Susan Marden (NINR); Richard Denisco (NIDA); Linda Porter (NINDS); James Witter (NIAMS). From L to R (sitting in front row): Donna Mesersmith and Bethany Hoffman (Altarum/Palladian Partners, contract experts); Cheryl Kitt (CSR) (standing in front row)

Brief computer-assisted screening and advice in primary care shows promise in reducing teen substance abuse
A new NIDA and NIAAA funded study, published in Pediatrics, showed that a computer-facilitated Screening and Brief Advice system tested with teens in the United States and Prague promoted reductions in use of alcohol and marijuana, respectively, for up to one year. Teens completed a computerized screening questionnaire and viewed the results as well as scientific information and real-life stories illustrating substance use harms before a healthcare provider office visit. Clinicians then received screening results and talking points to assist in providing the patient brief advice during the visit. Research has shown that screening and brief interventions within primary care settings can reduce substance abuse in adults, but little research exists on the effectiveness of these quick screens in teens. Since adolescence is typically when substance abuse and addiction take hold, using screening tools with this population offers opportunities to intervene early and prevent substance use disorders or their escalation. View the abstract ⇒ | Media coverage included a story in HealthDay.

New science-based medical tools to improve drug abuse treatment and HIV testing
As part of its Blending initiative, NIDA has developed two new products to help healthcare providers integrate the latest substance abuse research into their practices. One of the products, “Prescription Opioid Addiction Treatment Study (POATS),” is based on results from a large-scale study conducted by NIDA’s Clinical Trials Network. The POATS product provides training materials on the effective use of buprenorphine treatment for adults addicted to prescription painkillers. The other, “HIV Rapid Testing in Substance Abuse Treatment Programs,” describes best practices for implementing on-site rapid HIV testing and is based on the results of a NIDA-funded study, published April 19. Both tools were released to coincide with this year’s Blending Conference in Atlanta, Georgia. More information on the Blending products, as well as the Blending initiative, can be found at Read more ⇒

Hollywood leading ladies Dianne Wiest and Kathryn Erbe perform in NIDA’s Addiction Performance Project
ALT text
Renowned Hollywood actresses Dianne Wiest and Kathryn Erbe helped NIDA “raise the curtain” once again in performances of the Addiction Performance Project in Chicago and Philadelphia respectively. Wiest— whose on-screen credits include: Hannah and her Sisters, The Purple Rose of Cairo, Radio Days, Bullets Over Broadway, Parenthood, Edward Scissorhands, and The Birdcage – starred in the Philadelphia performances on May 9th at the University of Pennsylvania’s Perelman School of Medicine and the American Psychiatric Association’s 165th Annual Meeting. Erbe, best known for playing Detective Alexandra Eames in Law & Order: Criminal Intent, starred in NIDA’s Addiction Performance Project on April 16th in the Chicago, Ill. area. Two performances were held—one at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine, another in conjunction with the 42nd National Council Mental Health and Addictions Conference. Learn more about this innovative project ⇒ | Media coverage included a story in Newsworks and Addiction411.

NIDA’s PEERx for teens showcased at Rx Drug Abuse Summit
U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Regina Benjamin visits NIDA’s PEERx exhibit.  With her are students from the Florida chapter of SADD.

U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Regina Benjamin visits NIDA’s PEERx exhibit. With her are students from the Florida chapter of SADD

PEERx, NIDA’s new campaign for teens, was exhibited at the first National Prescription Drug Abuse Summit in Orlando, Florida. The campaign uses unique interactive videos and other tools to educate teens about the dangers of prescription drug abuse. Teen leaders from SADD (Students Against Destructive Decisions) assisted NIDA in exhibiting PEERx and hosting a train-the-trainer workshop for state and national leaders, law enforcement officials, medical professionals, community advocates, treatment experts, educators, private industry leaders, and others attending the event. Read more ⇒ | Media coverage included a story in Psychiatric News Alert.

National Inhalant Prevention Coalition highlights dangers of helium
Justin Earp speaking at the National Inhalant Prevention Coalition (NIPC) press conference

Justin Earp speaking about his daughter

On March 15th, The National Inhalant Prevention Coalition (NIPC), with support from NIDA and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), held its annual press conference on March 15th in Washington, DC. Speakers included NIDA’s Dr. David Shurtleff, ONDCP Director R. Gil Kerlikowske, Entertainment Industries Council President Bryan Dyak and Loriann and Justin Earp, parents of 14-year-old Ashley Long, who died last February after inhaling helium from a pressurized tank. Media coverage included stories in Medscape (free login) and Alliance for Consumer Education Updates.

Study provides clues for designing new anti-addiction medications
poppy flower
Scientists are now one step closer to developing anti-addiction medications. New research, published in Nature provides a better understanding of the properties of the only member of the opioid receptor family whose activation counteracts the rewarding effects of addictive drugs. The study was supported by NIDA, the National Institute of General Medical Sciences and the National Institute of Mental Health. Read more ⇒ | Media coverage included stories in Psychiatric News Alert, Huntsville Healthy Living Examiner, Kansas City InfoZine, and Frontier India News Network.

Providing HIV tests at drug treatment centers substantially increases receipt of test results
Researcher with test tube
Drug use is associated with an increased risk of HIV infection, yet the majority of drug treatment programs in the U.S. do not offer on-site HIV testing. New research, published in the American Journal of Public Health by NIDA-funded scientists, showed that providing on-site HIV testing at drug treatment centers, rather than referrals to off-site HIV testing, increases the likelihood that people will receive their test results. This same study found no additional benefit from HIV risk reduction counseling and also no differences in sexual risk behaviors among the study groups. View the abstract ⇒ | The new Blending product on HIV Rapid Testing referenced above is based on this research study.

Meds for high cholesterol and heart disease might also help smokers quit
A NIDA-funded study, published in Neuropsychopharmacology, showed that clofibrate -- widely prescribed to treat high cholesterol and cardiovascular disease -- reduces nicotine’s effects in animal models. Specifically, the medication prevented nicotine-taking in animals never before exposed, greatly reduced it in experienced animals, and countered a return to drug-seeking in a model of relapse. Because clofibrate is already FDA-approved for reducing risk of heart disease, clinical trials for smoking cessation could be expedited. View the abstract ⇒ | Media coverage included a story in the Hartford Health Examiner.

NIDA seeks innovative solutions from small businesses, including developing new tests for designer drugs
NIDA is seeking new ways of detecting “designer drug” use (e.g., “K2/Spice” or “Bath Salts”) by promoting the development of biofluid drug screens based on pharmacological activity (how the drug works in the body) rather than chemical structure. Because these “designer drugs” are constantly evolving, they frequently evade currently available structure-based drug screens. For more information, see Omnibus Solicitation issued by HHS. Media coverage included stories in the Central Science Blog, the Terra Sigillata and Psychiatric News Alert.

NOTE: If you cannot access a journal article, please try PubMed Central (PMC), the free, digital NIH archive of biomedical and life sciences journal literature.

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Other News

NIDA’s Dr. Tom Brady Honored Posthumously with 2012 JMATE Government Facilitation of Evidence-Based Practice Award
Dr. Tom Brady, Ph.D.- Health Scientist Administrator, DESPR, NIDA-HQ

Dr. Tom Brady

In April, NIDA’s Dr. Thomas Brady was posthumously awarded the 2012 Joint Meeting on Adolescent Treatment Effectiveness (JMATE) Government Facilitation of Evidence-Based Practice Award. The award is given annually to a government official who has moved the adolescent treatment field towards evidence-based practice. Tom led NIDA’s efforts to help develop the JMATE meeting into a showcase for research and a venue to recruit and assist new investigators. NIDA is proud to see Tom honored with this award, which was sponsored by NIDA, NIAAA and SAMHSA, among others.

NIDA Staff Teach and Entertain at Brain Awareness Week and the USA Science & Engineering Festival
Roger Sorensen, Ph.D. with students

Roger Sorensen, Ph.D., NIDA DBNBR

Drs. Cathrine Sasek and Dave Thomas brought the popular game, “Brain Derby” back to the National Museum of Health and Medicine for Brain Awareness Week March 12-18. ”Brain Derby” is an interactive fast-moving game designed to teach middle and high school students about their brains and how drugs can affect the brain and body to alter normal functioning. The museum organizers commented that the kids at NIDA’s activity generated the most enthusiastic noise of any of the activities throughout the week! Brain Awareness Week is sponsored by The Dana Foundation.

USA Science and Engineering Festival logo

NIDA volunteers also recently participated in the 2nd annual USA Science & Engineering Festival at the Washington DC convention center. The three-day festival, which is designed to re-invigorate the interest of our Nation’s youth in science, presented the most compelling, exciting, educational and entertaining science available. NIDA played “Brain Derby” and had real human, monkey, sheep, and rat brains available as part of “Brains Up Close.” Children were able to learn about what makes the human brain different from the brains of other species as well as what various areas of the brain are involved in and which are impacted by drugs of abuse. USA Science & Engineering Festival website ⇒

Pain Therapy Shows Promising Result for One Lucky Canine
german shepard
Thanks to NIDA's support of interleukin-10 gene therapy (CEBRA I and II; R01) for managing chronic pain, a start-up company has formed to take this treatment toward clinical trials. Recently the therapy was tested as a last resort on Liberty, a volunteer pet dog about to be euthanized for neuropathic pain. After receiving one intrathecal injection of the non-viral slow release interleukin-10 gene therapy, Liberty is doing miraculously well. Before the therapy, she was in discomfort, could not climb stairs, and had no interest in playing with toys. Following the injection, she is playing a robust “tug” with toys, has no problem with stairs, and follows her owners everywhere, bright eyed and interested in the world. The grantees are hopeful for continued success.

2011 Addiction Science Fair Winners Visit NIDA
Dr. Volkow with Science Fair winners

L to R: Yamini Naidu, Dr. Volkow and Sarah Pak

Last summer’s hurricane kept two of NIDA’s Intel Science Fair winners from presenting their projects at NIDA. A trip was rescheduled during their school spring breaks and both winners shared their presentations with NIDA staff on April 9th at NIDA HQ. First place winner Sarah Pak (now at Princeton), presented her topic “Would You Do It for the Kids? Factors Involved in the Prediction of Intergenerational Preferences.” Third place winner Yamini Naidu (still in high school,) presented her project “From Models to Medications: Identification of Medication Leads for Treating Methamphetamine Addiction.” While in Maryland, the two students also toured the NIH campus.

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