Number 44, December 2012

NIDA and the French Institut national de la santé et de la recherche médicale (INSERM) co-hosted a workshop during the Society for Neuroscience annual conference to explore opportunities to enhance collaborative research and research training activities between the United States and France. NIDA Director Nora Volkow, M.D., and Etienne Hirsch, Ph.D., INSERM, co-chaired the October 15, 2012, workshop. After speakers described the research priorities and capabilities of the two organizations, the invited U.S. and French scientists suggested areas for future cooperation: animal research in drug discovery; clinical research in medications development and brain imaging; and generating new strategies for analyzing large imaging, genetic/epigenetic, and clinical data sets. Several mechanisms were proposed to support the collaboration, including: research training and exchange programs, such as the NIDA INVEST Drug Abuse Research Fellowship; funding support through research supplement awards; clinical trials; and web-based communications.

Application Deadline: January 15, 2013

NIDA is participating in a Request for Applications (RFA) issued by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in collaboration with the Russian Foundation for Basic Research to establish Collaborative Research Partnerships to study prevention and treatment of HIV/AIDS and comorbidities. NIH expects that $3 million USD will be available in fiscal year 2014 to fund up to 10 R21 exploratory/developmental grants. U.S. research institutions working with a Russian institutional partner may apply for up to $275,000 in direct costs over 2 years. The applications should describe a single research plan for the partner institutions to investigate topics such as HIV genomics, HIV-associated coinfections, and HIV-associated comorbidities. For more information, see RFA-DA-14-001.

International health care providers may take advantage of unique training tools developed by the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) and NIDA to help health care providers screen and manage patients taking prescription opioid analgesics. Prescription drug diversion and abuse is an epidemic in the United States, and is reported to be increasing around the world. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that between 2000 and 2009, the number of prescriptions for opioid painkillers in the United States increased by 48 percent; between 1997 and 2007, the milligram per person use of prescription opioids in the United States increased by 402 percent. Although there are few data internationally, the 2012 World Drug Report found that the nonmedical use of tranquillizers and sedatives among females exceeds cannabis use in Central America, Europe, and South America. Two courses—“Safe Prescribing for Pain” and “Managing Pain Patients Who Abuse Rx Drugs”—that are available on the NIDA website use videos that model effective communication in screening pain patients for substance use disorder risk factors before prescribing, and in identifying when patients are abusing their medications. Medical schools and international researchers may adapt the courses for use in those settings.

Her Majesty Queen Silvia of Sweden, Sheppard G. Kellam, M.D., and Jeanne M. Poduska, Sc.D.

Her Majesty Queen Silvia of Sweden, center, presented the International Best Practice Award to Sheppard G. Kellam, M.D., and Jeanne M. Poduska, Sc.D., for the Good Behavior Game.

The Mentor Foundation recently honored the Good Behavior Game, a prevention program for young children that has been shown to prevent drug abuse and other problems in adolescence and young adulthood. In the game, first- and second-grade student teams win stickers or other small rewards for complying with rules for good behavior, such as sitting quietly and not talking out of turn.

Her Majesty Queen Silvia of Sweden presented the International Best Practice Award to Sheppard G. Kellam, M.D., professor emeritus at Johns Hopkins University, and Jeanne M. Poduska, Sc.D., of the American Institutes for Research (AIR), at a Mentor USA ceremony on September 20, 2012, in Washington, DC. Dr. Kellam has led three generations of large-scale, randomized trials of the Good Behavior Game in U.S. public schools and helped create an international Good Behavior Game Network that has been supported by the NIDA International Program. Dr. Poduska now leads the Good Behavior Game implementation program at AIR and conducts research into the most effective ways to train and support teachers using the Good Behavior Game.

Her Majesty Queen Silvia of Sweden established the Mentor Foundation in 1994 in conjunction with the World Health Organization to promote drug abuse prevention. Mentor Foundation Executive Director Jeff Lee says Mentor honored the Good Behavior Game because the program has “a sound evidence base for effectiveness, an international track record, and the potential for adaptation and piloting in new countries.”

Drs. Kellam and Poduska, and their colleagues, conducted a longitudinal study that followed students until they reached the ages of 19 to 21 and found that students who played the Good Behavior Game, compared with those who did not, had lower rates of:

  • Drug and alcohol use disorders
  • Smoking
  • Antisocial personality disorder
  • Delinquency and incarceration for violent crimes
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Use of school-based services such as behavioral counseling, remedial or special education, and therapy.

The improvement was most striking for boys who had higher levels of aggressive and disruptive behaviors in first grade. Researchers in Belgium, The Netherlands, and the United States have tested the Good Behavior Game independently; AIR pilot-tested the Good Behavior Game in Oxfordshire, United Kingdom. Positive findings were consistent across all four countries, from childhood through adolescence and into young adulthood.

A September 2012 international meeting in Mexico City that focused on inhalant abuse featured presentations by members of the NIDA International Program Inhalant Working Group (IWG) and has already begun yielding results. El Instituto para la Atención y Prevención de las Adicciones en la Ciudad de México (IAPA) hosted the meeting, which attracted more than 200 policymakers, researchers, service providers, and industry representatives. Former NIDA INVEST Fellow and IWG member Silvia Cruz, Ph.D., Cinvestav, chaired the scientific program. NIDA Acting Deputy Director David A. Shurtleff, Ph.D., provided a video introduction to the meeting. Speakers included IAPA Director Rafael Camacho Solís, M.D.; María Elena Medina-Mora Icaza, Ph.D., Instituto Nacional de Psiquiatria Ramón de la Fuente; representatives of other Mexican addiction and research organizations; and five IWG experts:

  • Ms. Debra Dell, Canadian Youth Solvent Addiction Committee, described the culture-based structure and effectiveness of Canada’s residential inhalant abuse treatment programs.
  • Colleen Anne Dell, Ph.D., University of Saskatchewan, Canada, reviewed the global inhalants situation and the need for qualitative and quantitative data collection.
  • Robert L. Balster, Ph.D., Virginia Commonwealth University, discussed the international research agenda needs and suggested a framework for a countrywide harm reduction approach to inhalant abuse in Mexico.
  • Mr. Harvey Weiss, National Inhalant Prevention Coalition, reported on successful prevention programs, including the Texas media/community action model and U.S. Awareness Week.
  • Dr. Cruz introduced the neuroscience of inhalant abuse to the nonscientific audience.

During the IAPA meeting, the IWG experts met with Dr. Medina-Mora to discuss how the group can support the work of the developing strategy in Mexico and further the IWG work internationally. As a result of that meeting, IWG members are developing binational research proposals with Mexican scientists, and the Canadian Journal of Public Health has accepted a letter to the editor by IWG members calling for increased qualitative and quantitative research on inhalant abuse. IWG also has created an online networking group on LinkedIn to provide inhalant abuse researchers with additional opportunities for sharing research findings, best practices, and ideas for future investigations with colleagues around the world. In late October, Dr. Camacho Solís presented Mexico City Mayor Marcelo Ebard with the IAPA plan to address inhalant abuse, developed with input from meeting participants, recommending that the city adopt integrated, evidence-based, harm-, supply-, and demand-reduction activities in the areas of policy, research, training, treatment, prevention, and community outreach. Dr. Camacho Solís also met with representatives of an industry group to discuss recommendations controlling the importation, manufacturing, and sale of consumer and industrial products that can be abused by inhaling their vapors or gases.

NIDA International Program Director Steven W. Gust, Ph.D., was a member of the team of National Institutes of Health (NIH) program officers who received the 2012 NIH Director’s Award for their work on the Fogarty International Center program, Brain Disorders in the Developing World: Research Across the Lifespan. Brain Disorders Program Director Kathleen Michels, Ph.D., and her colleagues from eight NIH Institutes and Centers were honored in recognition of an “exceedingly successful, decade-long, multi-Institute/Center partnership to address the major global impact of brain disorders across the lifespan.” The Brain Disorders Program develops innovative, collaborative research and sustainable research capacity-building projects in developing countries on a broad range of brain and nervous system disorders.

As part of the ongoing collaboration under the binational agreement between NIDA and the Italian Department for Antidrug Policies, the NIDA Intramural Research Program (IRP) and researchers at the Catholic University of Rome will conduct joint clinical studies on reducing alcohol consumption. The Italian principal investigator is Giovanni Addolorato, M.D. The research plan was agreed upon during meetings that were held November 6–14, 2012, in Rome and Verona, where NIDA Director Nora D. Volkow, M.D., and IRP Scientific Director Antonello Bonci, M.D., discussed the role of drugs in the disruption of self-control and strategies to prevent and treat addiction.

2013 NIDA International Forum

Registration Now Open

June 14–17, 2013

Hilton Bayfront Hotel, San Diego, California

Abstract Submission and Travel Award Application Deadline: December 15, 2012

InWomen's Group

Planning is underway for the 2013 Annual International Women’s and Children’s Health and Gender Working Group (InWomen’s) Conference. The meeting is held in conjunction with the NIDA International Forum and the College on Problems of Drug Dependence Annual Scientific Meeting. The 2013 conference will be on Friday, June 14, from 11:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. at the Hilton Bayfront Hotel, San Diego, California. Steffanie Strathdee, Ph.D., associate dean of Global Health Sciences, Harold Simon Professor, and chief of the Division of Global Public Health in the University of California San Diego School of Medicine Department of Medicine, will be the plenary speaker. A poster session will promote more networking. Tax-deductible donations are being accepted at to support a few merit- and needs-based travel awards for young investigators whose abstracts are accepted for the poster session. Details about submitting poster abstracts and applying for the travel awards will be announced in early 2013. InWomen’s is a NIDA International Program Working Group. For more information, contact InWomen’s Chair Wendee Wechsberg, Ph.D., at

Alan Anticevic, Ph.D., Yale University, is 1 of 14 junior scientists who will be supported by the National Institutes of Health Director’s Early Independence Award. Dr. Anticevic focuses on characterizing brain circuits involved in processing certain stimuli and their interactions with neural systems. His aim is to understand how these interactions may go awry in the context of different neuropsychiatric illnesses, such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and substance abuse. Researchers must be within 1 year of completing their doctoral degrees or clinical residencies at the time they apply for the Early Independence Award. The program encourages young scientists who have demonstrated outstanding scientific creativity, intellectual maturity, and leadership skills with the opportunity to conduct independent biomedical or behavioral research by skipping the conventional postdoctoral training period. More information on the Early Independence Award is available here.

The Advanced Certificate Program in Research Ethics for Central and Eastern Europe has released its third downloadable graduate-level course in international bioethics. International Research Ethics 2 provides students with the skills and knowledge necessary to function on research ethics committees, to understand the legal and ethical complexities of contemporary research issues occurring in their home countries and institutions, and to develop practical approaches for dealing with urgent ethical issues in the local research environment. Anyone around the world wishing to provide bioethics education is welcome to review, adapt, use, and disseminate the course materials. Some course material has been translated into Lithuanian and the Romanian-Moldovan language; other materials are being translated into Croatian, Georgian, Lithuanian, Romanian, Russian, and Serbian. The Fogarty International Center supports the partnership between Union Graduate College of Mount Sinai School of Medicine (USA) and Vilnius University (Lithuania). More information is available here.

The NIDA International Program supported nine researchers who participated in the 2012 National Hispanic Science Network (NHSN) 12th Annual International Conference. The conference was held September 26–29 in San Diego, California. The meeting focused on the integration of translational research and ways to meet health needs among subpopulations with a variety of comorbid diseases and differing genetic and environmental backgrounds. Panel discussions addressed the impact of comorbidities among drug- and alcohol-dependent populations; delivery, evaluation, and improvement of treatment; development of pharmacotherapies; and evidence-based psychosocial and social cognitive therapies. The conference honored retiring NIDA Senior Advisor on Special Populations Ana Anders, LICSW, for her commitment and guidance to NHSN since the Network’s inception in 2001. The NIDA-supported participants included:

  • Chile: Luis Caris
  • Mexico: Octavio Campollo, Tania Gonzalez, Maria de Lourdes Gutierrez Lopez, Miguel Angel Lopez Brambilla, Miguel Angel Mendoza Melendez, and Gayle Rosio Valdez Gonzalez
  • Spain: Javier Gonzalez Riera and Francisco Jose Montero Bancalero.

As the first U.S.–Mexico Drug Abuse Prevention Research Fellow, Argentina Servin, M.D., says she feels very responsible for learning everything possible during the fellowship and applying her knowledge in her home country. She works with commercial sex workers (CSWs), injection drug users (IDUs), and their children to break the cycle of drug use and sex-for-drugs that contributes to the HIV epidemic in northern Mexico. “Even my colleagues working in Tijuana and Ciudad Juarez are astonished at the number of young people affected by CSW/IDU parents and environments,” Dr. Servin said. “It’s very important to make sure people know that behind the statistics are real individuals.”

For her fellowship, Dr. Servin is conducting secondary data analysis on a NIDA-funded project (R01DA023877) studying HIV risks in Tijuana and Ciudad Juarez. Her analysis will identify factors independently associated with CSWs/IDUs living with dependent children or having a family member who was a sex worker. Dr. Servin will explore the role of familial factors in the nature and timing of entry to sex work, sexual violence, and current sexual and drug-related risk behaviors and HIV infection among female sex workers whose parents engaged in sex work. Dr. Servin’s mentors are Steffanie Strathdee, Ph.D., and Jay G. Silverman, Ph.D., University of California San Diego (UCSD) School of Medicine.

Dr. Strathdee, who is associate dean of Global Health Sciences, Harold Simon Professor, and chief of the Division of Global Public Health in the UCSD School of Medicine Department of Medicine, says, “Dr. Servin’s research exploring intergenerational drug use and sex work in the Mexico–U.S. border region is a topic of immense importance if we are to prevent children from repeating the same vicious circle their parents—and sometimes their grandparents—fell into.”

Dr. Servin was trained as a clinician. In addition to her research projects and class work at UCSD, she is using the fellowship to develop her prevention research skills, improve her writing, sharpen her English, and learn how to submit competitive grant applications. She is definitely succeeding:

  • Dr. Servin defended her thesis for a master’s degree in public health in July.
  • She has published two articles (in the Journal of the International Association of Physicians in AIDS Care and AIDS Care) and has submitted a third article.
  • Dr. Servin is the Mexican principal investigator on a seed grant funded through Dr. Strathdee’s AIDS International Training and Research Program (AITRP) grant (D43TW008633-03) to build sustainable research capacity for primary and secondary prevention of HIV, tuberculosis, and sexually transmitted infections in the Mexico–U.S. border region.

The Fellowship also is proving invaluable for Dr. Servin’s networking and professional development. “At UCSD, I am working with experts in multidisciplinary approaches to drug abuse research,” Dr. Servin said. “These are the people I used to Google because they are such leaders in the field, and now they share their insights with me, offering complete, well-rounded ideas whenever I ask for help with my research.” Through her fellowship, Dr. Servin also has made connections with officials at the Central American Centers for Disease Control in Guatemala.

Dr. Servin adds that she is delighted to be part of the next generation of Mexican drug abuse prevention researchers. “Mexico is one of the few low- and middle-income countries that shares a border with a developed country, she said, “and I am very excited that the United States and NIDA are investing in this program. Opportunities to work with these kinds of experts are not always available for researchers in my country, and I encourage other Mexicans to take advantage of the unique U.S.–Mexico Drug Abuse Prevention Research Fellowship.”

The U.S.–Mexico Drug Abuse Prevention Research Fellowship provides 12 months of postdoctoral training in the United States for a Mexican citizen or permanent resident. In addition to conducting mentored prevention research, fellows participate in professional development activities and learn about the U.S. National Institutes of Health grant application process. The fellowship is a collaborative effort of NIDA and the National Institute of Psychiatry Ramón de la Fuente Muñiz in Mexico, along with participation from the National Commission Against Addictions (CONADIC) of Mexico and the Society for Prevention Research. Applications for the fellowship are due April 1, 2013.

Twenty-five Hubert H. Humphrey Fellows from 20 countries met with NIDA International Program Associate Director Dale S. Weiss and U.S. Department of State Foreign Affairs Officer Brian A. Morales on Monday, October 22, 2012, during the Humphrey Fellowship Program Global Leadership Forum. Acknowledging the broad health, social, economic, and criminal justice impacts of drug use around the world, Ms. Weiss invited attendees to become involved in NIDA opportunities. Mr. Morales described financial and administrative partnerships through the U.S. Department of State Bureau for International Narcotics and Law Enforcement that support global drug demand-reduction programs. A 4-day event sponsored by the U.S. Department of State and the Institute of International Education, the Global Leadership Forum brought nearly 200 Hubert H. Humphrey Fellows representing 93 countries to Washington, DC, to learn more about U.S. institutions, Federal agencies, and international organizations. The Humphrey Program brings young and midcareer professionals from eligible countries to the United States for a year of nondegree, graduate-level study at 1 of 18 universities. The fellowship also includes leadership development and professional collaboration with U.S. counterparts.

Earlier in the fall, Ms. Weiss and Fellowships Administrator Ms. Lisa Jordre met with the Hubert H. Humphrey Fellows from Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) and Johns Hopkins University (JHU) to inform them of NIDA activities and research priorities, review NIDA opportunities, and discuss their professional affiliation plans for the coming year.

The NIDA-supported Hubert H. Humphrey Fellows at VCU include:

  • Sossinou Awoussi (Togo) An ophthalmologist, Dr. Awoussi wants to improve his skills in public health policy and management and develop partnerships with American sight organizations.
  • Suzan Ben Ezra, M.S.W. (Israel) Ms. Ben Ezra will focus on special populations such as women, youth, and families; community-based alcohol prevention programs; new treatment and rehabilitation methods; the use of cannabis for medicinal purposes; and the development of coherent drug and alcohol policies.
  • Jezelle Charles, M.S. (Trinidad and Tobago) Ms. Charles wants to enhance her knowledge of drug pharmacology and qualitative and quantitative analytical methods so that she can improve procedures in her toxicology laboratory and help create a national clinical toxicology laboratory.
  • Claudemir Dos Santos (Brazil) Mr. Dos Santos would like to develop culturally appropriate prevention programs for children and adolescents and to improve his skills in evaluating prevention programs.
  • Rosie Myint (Burma [Myanmar]) Ms. Myint would like to improve her monitoring and evaluation skills as they relate to early drug prevention, relapse prevention, and behavioral change communication programs. She also will focus on enhancing community involvement in demand-reduction activities.
  • Bola Ola, F.M.C. Psych. (Nigeria) Dr. Ola is interested in drafting and promoting drug abuse policies and programs for primary health care settings.
  • Kouame Sedaminou, M.A.S. (Togo) Mr. Sedaminou seeks to enhance his knowledge of drug abuse prevention programs for youth in order to train other teachers as substance abuse advisors.

The 2012–2013 Hubert H. Humphrey Fellows at JHU include:

  • Poongothai Balaji, M.B.B.S., MRCOG (India) An obstetrician and gynecologist, Dr. Poongothai is interested in prevention programs for both communicable and noncommunicable diseases.
  • Pavla Dolezalova, Ph.D., (Czech Republic) Dr. Dolezalova wants to learn about evidenced-based research and cost-effective tools to improve the quality of life of drug-addicted people, particularly interventions based on attachment theory.
  • Basat Ilter, M.B.A. (Turkey) Mr. Ilter intends to focus on occupational safety and health policy and training programs for employers and employees that promote workers’ safety and health.
  • Nang Mo Kham, M.B., M.P.H. (Burma [Myanmar]) Dr. Kham aims to enhance her knowledge and skills in public health policy and management.
  • George Leveridge, M.B.B.S., D.M., M.P.H. (Jamaica) A psychiatrist, Dr. Leveridge is interested in public health policy development and its application to violence prevention.
  • Heather Susan Ruturi, M.S. (Kenya) Ms. Ruturi will focus on substance abuse prevention and treatment programs, particularly different concepts of client enrollment to care and the chemical and psychosocial management of patients.
  • Mariana Salamoun, M.A. (Lebanon) A psychologist, Ms. Salamoun is interested in promoting mental health through evidence-based research and community services, particularly in developing programs to protect youth.
  • Arnold Simpreux, M.D. (Haiti) Dr. Simpreux will emphasize HIV/AIDS policy and prevention programs for remote communities in low-income countries and health information systems focusing on HIV/AIDS prevention and education.

The NIDA International Program stays abreast of funding opportunities, upcoming deadlines for fellowship and grant applications, and meetings of interest to the international addiction and drug abuse research community.

Funding Opportunities