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Press Releases

White House Drug Policy Office and NIDA Unveil New Training Materials to Combat National Prescription Drug Abuse Epidemic
CME training photo
The Office of National Drug Control Policy and NIDA launched new online resources to train healthcare providers on proper prescribing and patient management practices for patients on opioid analgesics (painkillers). The new training materials, which include video vignettes modeling doctor patient conversations on the safe and effective use of opioid pain medications, are part of NIDA’s NIDAMED initiative, created to help physicians, medical interns and residents, and other clinicians understand and address the complex problem of prescription drug abuse. In addition to providing more accessible and self-guided information for healthcare providers, the training modules also provide an opportunity for healthcare professionals to earn continuing medical education (CME) credits. To date, more than 20,000 physicians and nurses have taken the training. Read more ⇒ Media coverage included stories on UPI, MedPage Today, Medscape Medical News (free login), and Third Age.

Actors Elizabeth Marvel and Reed Birney to raise the curtain in NIDA’s Addiction Performance Project
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Elizabeth Marvel and Reed Birney led an impressive cast in the Addiction Performance Project, an innovative continuing medical education (CME) program for doctors and other health providers, on October 20 in Philadelphia, Pa. The performance is a NIDA project designed to help doctors and other health professionals better identify and help drug-abusing patients in primary care settings, and to break down the stigma associated with drug addiction. Read more ⇒

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Science Spotlights

NIH-funded study links long-term marijuana use, especially when started during adolescence, with decreased IQ and impaired cognitive function
HIV book
NIH-funded research shows that long-term marijuana is associated with impaired intellectual functioning, especially if usage starts during the teen years. Over 1,000 study participants were given neuropsychological tests in early adolescence, prior to initiation of marijuana use, and then re-tested in mid-adulthood. Study members with more persistent marijuana dependence showed greater IQ decline and greater impairment across five different cognitive domains, especially executive function and processing speed. Read More ⇒ | View Message from the Director ⇒

New research stresses potential health dangers of "bath salts"
NIDA research published in Neuropsychopharmacology shows that MDPV, a synthetic chemical commonly found in the drugs referred to as "bath salts," is potentially more dangerous than cocaine when tested in rodents. In this study, MDPV prolonged the effects of two neurotransmitters, dopamine and norepinephrine (by blocking reuptake at brain nerve cells), and produced hyperactivity, rapid heart rate and increased blood pressure — highly dangerous symptoms. Read more ⇒

Good Behavior Game wins 2012 Mentor International Best Practice in Prevention Award
AIR’s Dr. Sheppard Kellam, HM Queen of Sweden, AIR’s Dr. Jeanne Poduska

L to R: AIR’s Dr. Sheppard Kellam, Her Majesty Queen Silvia of Sweden, AIR’s Dr. Jeanne Poduska

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The American Institutes for Research in Washington, DC, is the 2012 Mentor International Best Practice in Prevention Award winner for the Good Behavior Game, an evidence-based substance abuse prevention program funded by NIDA and NIMH. The Good Behavior Game is a 1st – 2nd grade classroom activity designed to teach children about appropriate behaviors. The program is currently being implemented in dozens of sites across the country. Read more ⇒

On-site HIV testing increases life expectancy in substance abusers and is cost effective
HIV book
An NIH-funded study shows that on-site rapid HIV testing has the potential to increase life expectancy for substance abuse treatment patients newly diagnosed with HIV in a cost effective way. Using modeling, this study estimated that life expectancy would be increased from 17.1 years (no on-site test) to 20.8 years (on-site testing with information on the testing procedure). The study was funded by NIDA, NIAID, and NIMH. Read More ⇒ | View abstract ⇒

Study finds combined dopamine dysfunction in drug addicted, schizophrenic patients
HIV book
Dopamine release in one area of the brain’s striatum is increased in schizophrenia, whereas drug addiction is associated with decreased dopamine in a neighboring striatal region. Since substance use disorders often occur concurrently with other mental illnesses, such as schizophrenia, a new NIDA-funded study examined amphetamine-induced dopamine release in patients with comorbid schizophrenia and substance dependence. In this study, dopamine release was reduced in the striatum of comorbid patients exposed to amphetamines, yet patients showed enhanced positive symptoms (i.e., psychotic reaction), as previously observed in schizophrenia. Read More ⇒ | View abstract ⇒

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NIDA announces 2012 SCOR Awards for research on gender differences
NIDA has awarded grants to Yale University, the Medical University of South Carolina, and the University of Minnesota to explore sex differences in drug addiction. These three grants are part of the Specialized Centers of Research (SCOR) on Sex Differences program developed and coordinated by NIH’s Office of Research on Women’s Health, which has recently awarded a total of 11 SCORs among NIH Institutes. Each NIDA grant has translational implications for drug abuse medications that take gender into account. Recipients will receive approximately $1,000,000 per year for 5 years to support their research. Read more ⇒

Special journal edition focuses on substance abuse issues impacting American Indians/Alaska Natives
The American Journal of Drug and Alcohol Abuse cover
The American Journal of Drug and Alcohol Abuse recently published a special edition devoted to NIH-funded research in American Indian/Alaska Native (AI/AN) communities. The driving force behind this collection of 24 articles was a 2010 conference that brought together experts and stakeholders from across academic institutions, communities and government to discuss research findings and research opportunities in AI/AN substance abuse research. The conference was hosted by NIDA and NIAAA, in collaboration with the NIH Office of Behavioral and Social Sciences Research and the National Cancer Institute. Read special edition ⇒ | Read commentary by Dr. Volkow and NIAAA director Dr. Warren ⇒

NIDA launches new tool for parents: Family Checkup: Positive Parenting Prevents Drug Abuse
Family Checkup: Positive Parenting Prevents Drug Abuse logo
As part of National Substance Abuse Prevention Month, NIDA has launched Family Checkup, an online resource that equips parents with research-based skills to help keep their children drug-free. NIDA-funded research has shown the critical role parents play in preventing their children from using drugs. Family Checkup poses questions for parents to consider as they interact with their children, highlighting parenting skills that are important in preventing the initiation and progression of drug use among youth. The resource incorporates video examples that show parents how-to and how-not-to emulate each skill with their own children. The tools were developed by the Child and Family Center at the University of Oregon.

NIDA accepting proposals to create mobile app that helps patients take medications as prescribed
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NIDA seeks to develop and test a prototype mobile/tablet technology-based application to provide a low-cost, highly personalized, interactive patient-centric medication adherence tool that improves upon currently available mobile technology-based medication adherence applications. The deadline for receipt of all contract proposals submitted in response to this solicitation is Tuesday, November 13, 2012, 5:00 p.m., ET. View announcement ⇒

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Other News

NIDA Commemorates Dr. Toni Shippenberg at NIDA Mini-Convention: Frontiers In Addiction Research
Toni Shippenberg
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On Friday, October 12, 2012, NIDA held the Toni S. Shippenberg Memorial Symposium at the NIDA Mini-Convention: Frontiers in Addiction Research, the day before the Society for Neuroscience Annual Meeting in New Orleans, LA. Dr. Shippenberg was a Branch Chief at NIDA’s Intramural Research Program and a long-time scientific leader and mentor in the fields of neuroscience and neuropharmacology. The event honored her life and extraordinary scientific achievements. NIDA’s participation at SfN included an exhibit and scientific presentations during the conference and a Twitter presence throughout the conference to keep @NIDANews followers up-to-date.

Dr. Volkow Receives National Hispanic Scientist of the Year award
Wit Ostrenko, Maruchi Azorin Blanco, Dr Nora Volkow, Mario Garcia Jr., Jose Diaz-Balart

Left to right: Wit Ostrenko – MOSI President, Maruchi Azorin Blanco – Event Founder, Dr. Nora Volkow, Mario Garcia, Jr. - Event Chair, Jose Diaz-Balart – Telemundo National Anchor

On October 27, the Museum of Science & Industry (MOSI) presented the 2012 National Hispanic Scientist of the Year Award to Dr. Volkow during a gala award ceremony before 350 attendees. Proceeds from the event helped provide more than 1,300 students from underserved communities and low-income schools with an exciting day of mentoring with Dr. Volkow and access to over 450 MOSI hands-on exhibits during Meet the Hispanic Scientist Day, which took place the day before. View video ⇒

NIDA Grantee Dr. Brian Kobilka Wins Nobel Prize
NIDA Grantee Dr. Brian Kobilka of the Stanford University School of Medicine was awarded the 2012 Nobel Prize in chemistry for studies of protein receptors that let body cells sense and respond to outside signals. Read NIH Press Release ⇒ | Read Press Release ⇒

Dr. Kobilka

Ana Anders Honored at 2012 National Hispanic Science Network Annual Conference
Ana Anders
Ana Anders, Special Advisor in NIDA’s Special Populations Office, was honored at the National Hispanic Science Network’s (NHSN) annual conference in San Diego in September. Ana came to NIDA to help promote Hispanic researchers in drug abuse. She established the highly successful and productive NHSN, whose core mission is to improve the health equity of Hispanics through increasing research and fostering the development and advancement of Hispanic scientists. One of the NHSN’s founding members, Dr. Hortensia Amaro, said of Ana, “Ana's contribution to the formation, development and success of the NHSN can’t be overstated! Ana was instrumental in bringing together a group of us who first proposed the formation of the NHSN to then NIDA Director, Alan Leshner. During the initial years and thereafter, Ana worked ‘her magic’ in helping NIDA to understand the vision of the NHSN and its potential value to the field of drug abuse research and to the agency.” Ana will retire from NIDA in January after 51 years of federal service.

NIDA’s CAWG Holds TRCNC Annual Meeting
Victoria Green, NIDA Summer student intern; Cheryl Anne Boyce, DCNBR

Victoria Green, NIDA Summer student intern; Cheryl Anne Boyce, DCNBR

The Translational Research on Child Neglect Consortium held its sixth annual meeting on September 20-21 at NIH. Highlights included a webinar on home visitation and child neglect, chaired by NIDA’s Drs. Cheryl Boyce and Jacqueline Lloyd. View webinar ⇒. The meeting featured Dr. David Olds, NIH and NIDA grantee, who has studied the long term benefits of the Nurse Family Partnership on reducing drug abuse risks in a cost effective manner. View NIDANotes article ⇒. Johns Hopkins Professor of Pediatrics and Health Policy and Management, Dr. Anne Duggan, also shared her work on the Home Visiting Research Network (HVRN) to prevent child maltreatment. Duggan is co-principal investigator of HHS’s experimental study of the new national Maternal, Infant and Early Childhood Home Visiting program, a randomized trial involving over 5000 families in 85 home visiting program sites in 12 states. In addition, local community partners, Agnes Leshner, Director of Child Welfare Services at Montgomery County HHS and Dr. Brenda Jones Harden from University of Maryland at College Park addressed the importance of evidenced-based research and home visitation and its translation into practice for children and their families at risk.

NIDA Hosted Seminar on New Developments in the Study of Sex Differences and Drug Abuse
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Dr. Marilyn Carroll

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Dr. Wendy Lynch

On September 26, 2012, NIDA’s Women and Sex/Gender Differences Research Program hosted a seminar, "New Developments in the Study of Sex Differences and Drug Abuse," featuring two NIDA grantees: Dr. Marilyn Carroll (University of Minnesota) and Dr. Wendy Lynch (University of Virginia). Dr. Carroll’s talk was entitled “Sex Differences and Hormonal Influences in Drug Abuse and its Treatment” and Dr. Lynch’s was entitled “Sex and Hormonal Influences on Motivation for Cocaine at Different Stages of Addiction: Neurobiological Mechanisms.” The seminar was organized by Drs. Samia Noursi and Cora Lee Wetherington.

NIDA Collaborates with The Partnership on The Medicine Abuse Project
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NIDA collaborated with The Partnership at last month for the Medicine Abuse Project, which encourages parents to talk to their children about the dangers of prescription drug abuse. Its aim is to prevent half a million teens from abusing medicine within five years. The initiative brings together parents, educators, coaches, health care providers, government, law enforcement officials, and other partners to help save lives by preventing teen medicine abuse. Read More ⇒

NIDA Thanks Outgoing Council Members for Their Time and Commitment
Outgoing Council members (L-R): 
James L. Sorensen, Ph.D., Department of Psychiatry, San Francisco General Hospital, University of California, San Francisco; Eric J. Nestler, M.D., Ph.D., Nash Family Professor of Neuroscience and Chair, Department of Neuroscience, Mount Sinai School of Medicine

Outgoing Council members (L-R): James L. Sorensen, Ph.D., Department of Psychiatry, San Francisco General Hospital, University of California, San Francisco; Eric J. Nestler, M.D., Ph.D., Nash Family Professor of Neuroscience and Chair, Department of Neuroscience, Mount Sinai School of Medicine; Not pictured: Roger Dale Walker, M.D., Professor of Psychiatry and Public Health and Prevention Medicine, Department of Psychiatry, Oregon Health and Science University

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From the Field

Hurricane Sandy


Along with devastation, events like Hurricane Sandy bring stories of resilience, camaraderie, and strength. Often times, however, such stories go untold—in particular, tales of sustaining research efforts during emergency situations. NIDA in the News staff spoke with NIDA grantees at research labs and treatment centers in New York, to learn how their teams carried out their work in Sandy’s wake. Here are their stories and lessons-learned:

JoAnn Sacks, PhD, Executive Director, National Development & Research Institutes (NDRI), Inc.
NDRI knows a thing or two about perseverance. After their entire World Trade Center office was destroyed on 9-11 (though fortunately no lives were lost), Dr. JoAnn Sacks and her colleagues learned the necessity of a complete “off-site” secure emergency back-up system. According to Sacks, whose office building was without power for a week after Sandy, “…this time, our infrastructure was backed-up in multiple ways... it made a big difference, feeling that [our data was] back up-to-date as soon as we got our power back.” In the same post 9-11 “we won’t be held back” spirit, Sacks noted that “to the extent research could go on, our staff was doing whatever they could-- when you feel the world around you is chaotic, you want to have control back and, emotionally engaging in work increases the feeling of control.” When asked her advice for others in a crisis situation, she responded, “People should make sure to reach out and let folks know their situation after a disaster. People will offer help.” After 9-11, colleagues at other research centers invited NDRI staff to work out of their offices as long as needed. Following Hurricane Sandy, NDRI has created office space to house an entire team of researchers from a neighboring institution whose office was declared uninhabitable. “It was important for us to give back the way we were helped,” she said. For Sacks, despite the devastation, emergency situations such as Hurricane Sandy transposed New York City into one “really large community with family, friends, colleagues, volunteers from around the U.S., and disaster staff helping one another.”

Dr. Lawrence Brown, Chief Executive Officer, Addiction Research & Treatment Corporation (ARTC)
While Brooklyn, New York-based ARTC’s nine clinical centers escaped hurricane-related physical damage and power loss, Dr. Brown wrote, “at many ARTC clinical sites, services were provided to patients enrolled at other agencies which were closed during this disaster. Brown highlighted the dedication of his staff noting one employee who, despite transportation challenges, drove in to work to assist patients who otherwise wouldn’t have received vital medications. Brown also spoke of the dilemma of sustaining daily administration of medication-assisted therapy during this time. With news of the pending storm, ARTC took immediate action “in the interest of public health”, providing several days of take home medication to patients who otherwise would not have been able to access it.

John Rotrosen, M.D., Director, New York University’s Center of Excellence on Addiction
For Dr. John Rotrosen, Hurricane Sandy brought a complete closure of research and clinical facilities at NYU, Bellevue Hospital and the Veteran’s Administration (VA) due to power loss and flood damage. The closings proved extremely challenging yet staff and patient resilience prevailed. For example, Rotrosen referenced the plight of a homeless patient in a NIDA Clinical Trials Network (CTN) funded trial receiving daily medication. “We hadn’t been able to reach him after the storm but he re-emerged after he was able to charge up his phone, and found us at our new location the first day we were back open!” According to Rotrosen, Bellevue and the VA hospital will not be fully operational for another two-to-three months. Research facilities have been relocated or are gradually reopening. He is reflective about the experience noting that such events “present an opportunity for how we can prepare ourselves for continuity of care in future emergency situations.”

David Ho, M.D., Director and CEO, The Aaron Diamond AIDS Research Center (ADARC)
Dr. Ho, a past recipient of NIDA’s Avant-Garde award, heads Rockefeller University’s ADARC, located in New York City. The following excerpt from a widespread email update sent by Ho describes the careful planning and dedication of his staff leading up to—and during—Hurricane Sandy:

As you know, all of lower Manhattan lost power. Thanks to the heroic effort of our facility staff who started preparing well in advance of the storm, the back-up generator functioned properly and kept our key pieces of equipment working continuously. Several team members have stayed at the Center since the beginning of the storm to ensure that all samples and research materials remain refrigerated.

Editor’s note: Our thoughts continue to be with our grantees, colleagues and their families in the wake of Hurricane Sandy. We hope these stories will inspire and provide advice for others that may confront similar circumstances.

University of Washington Logo

Research on the long-term consequences of child abuse by University of Washington grantee Dr. Todd Herrenkohl was recently published in the Journal of Family Violence. The study, “Developmental Impacts of Child Abuse and Neglect Related to Adult Mental Health, Substance Use, and Physical Health,” was promoted in a university press release. Read the study ⇒

NIDA grantee Dr. Steven Ondersma of Wayne State University was recently named a Fellow of the American Psychological Association’s Division 37 (Society for Child and Family Policy and Practice). He was honored by the group for his research on substance abuse among pregnant and post-partum women. View Wayne State press release ⇒

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Mount Sinai School of Medicine logo

Research on opiates by NIDA grantee Dr. Eric Nestler of the Mount Sinai School of Medicine was published in the October 5 issue of Science. The study, entitled “BDNF Is a Negative Modulator of Morphine Action,” was highlighted in a press release issued by the university. Read the study ⇒

University of Michigan logo

Dr. Jill Becker and Dr. Jennifer Cummings, NIDA researchers at the University of Michigan, presented new animal research at the Society of Neuroscience meeting in New Orleans looking at the effects of cocaine on behavior and brain chemistry. View the University of Michigan press release ⇒

Duke logo

Through a NIDA ARRA Faculty Recruitment Program (P30) grant, the Duke Institute for Brain Sciences (DIBS) recently hired two new tenure-track assistant professors, Dr. Herbert Covington (Department of Psychology & Neuroscience) and Dr. Katherine Heller (Department of Statistical Science). Dr. Covington's laboratory focuses on decision-making, stress and drug abuse. Dr. Heller’s research draws on Bayesian modeling to evaluate models of and hypotheses for human reasoning and decision-making. This will allow her to model, for example, why some people are more susceptible to drugs of abuse than others.

Northwestern University logo

NIDA Grantee Linda Teplin of Northwestern University was interviewed by the Chicago Tribune and The New York Times about her research on the prevalence and persistence of psychiatric disorders in youth after detention, which was recently published in the Archives of General Psychiatry. View the Chicago Tribune story ⇒ | View The New York Times story ⇒

Stanford University logo

NIDA grantee Dr. Douglass Owens of Stanford University made national news commenting on the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force draft recommendation to screen all people aged 15 to 65 for HIV. Dr. Owen’s NIDA-funded research “has literally created a paradigm shift on HIV testing,” said NIDA project officer Peter Hartsock.

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