Number 35, March 2011

Addiction scientists working in low- and middle-income countries can now have one-on-one support to facilitate the publication of completed work. The free service, offered by the International Society of Addiction Journal Editors and its satellite Web site, (Publishing Addiction Research Internationally), offers investigators who often work in institutions that lack a history of writing for peer-reviewed journals guidance when preparing their work for publication. At the core of the service is a database of established researchers who have agreed to offer their services as mentors. They include members of the advisory or editorial boards of scientific journals, and many are themselves editors and the recipients of other indicators of esteem from the scientific community. Visit PARINT to get more information and application forms.

President’s Emergency Program for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) logo

The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) intends to commit $4 million to fund 8 to 10 awards in fiscal year 2012 to support implementation science projects that will inform the President’s Emergency Program for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) as it develops more efficient and cost-effective methods to deliver HIV prevention, treatment, and care for drug-using populations.

Letters of Intent Due: July 1, 2011
Applications Due: August 1, 2011

The announcement, HIV/AIDS Implementation Science Targeting Drug Using Populations: A Collaboration With PEPFAR, is designed to launch multidisciplinary implementation research collaborations between U.S. and foreign-based institutions and aims to combine field-based, real-time and real-world opportunities with a rigorous, science-based approach to implement, scale up, and evaluate HIV/AIDS interventions for persons who use drugs in diverse settings. It will support collaborations across countries in the same geographic region as well as within countries and among subpopulations within countries. Because sustainability and country ownership of programs is a goal of PEPFAR programs, it is essential that applicants provide training to local partners/collaborators to facilitate sustainability and engage, where feasible, governmental and civil society sectors.

Late last year, five new research teams began work to address HIV/AIDS and drug use in areas where it is already at epidemic proportions or where it is quickly emerging to become one if efforts are not made to halt or reverse the current momentum. The research projects are the result of NIDA grants designed to stimulate collaborative research among foreign investigators from the same geographic regions to address regional issues on the intersection of HIV/AIDS and drug use in international settings. It is hoped that the research that results from the grants will enhance availability of evidence-based biomedical and behavioral strategies that will improve public health approaches to the prevention and treatment of HIV/AIDS associated with drug use.

The research teams began in earnest late last year to conduct surveillance, prevention, and treatment research utilizing special collaborative opportunities, expertise, resources, populations, and settings to address regionally focused international issues. Three of the five research teams include former NIDA International Program fellows. Highlights of the five projects are provided below:

  • Dr. Sergii Dvoriak, Ukraine, former Hubert H. Humphrey Fellow and recently awarded INVEST-Clinical Trials Network (CTN) Fellow, is working with U.S. investigator Dr. Frederick Lewis Altice, Yale University, to create an innovative and new collaborative research program in Ukraine called PRIDE (Prison-Related Research, Intervention Development, and Evaluation) to address research and implementation issues associated with HIV, substance abuse, and the criminal justice system in the former Soviet Union region. PRIDE creates an infrastructure for research that involves both researchers and the criminal justice system partners and includes collaborators from Ukraine, Kazakhstan, and Georgia. The synergy between researchers and criminal justice system partners allows an open dialogue and opportunity to incorporate implementation research using the Plan-Do-Study-Act (PDSA) method, with the intent that it will yield the most effective outcomes. The three-phase study will include surveillance activities, selection of evidence-based interventions suggested by the surveillance and needs assessment, and pilot testing of the selected interventions. It is hoped that this research will promote and facilitate research to impede the HIV epidemic among injection drug users (IDUs) in Ukraine.
  • Sonia Miranda, Guatemala, and Dr. Carmen Fernandez-Casanueva, Mexico, are conducting research to gain a better understanding of the patterns and context of drug use along the Mexico/Guatemala border and how substance use is related to the spread of HIV, hepatitis C virus (HCV), and sexually transmitted infections (STIs). They aim to describe the contextual factors affecting drug use and patterns of use in high-risk populations along the border; determine the prevalence and correlates of HIV, HCV, and STIs among substance users; and explore the phylo-geography and molecular epidemiology of HIV-1 infection in at-risk groups. This collaborative project will strengthen regional cooperation between researchers in Guatemala, Mexico, and the United States, and help inform the development of HIV interventions and prevention programs that may avert risky substance use behaviors before they become further established. The U.S. principal investigator for this team is Dr. Kimberly C. Brouwer, University of California, San Diego.
  • Olga Levina, NGO Stellit, St. Petersburg, Russia, and Anneli Uuskula University of Tartu, Estonia, are investigating the HIV epidemic in Russia and Estonia, which is largely driven by viral transmission among IDUs. The researchers intend to determine the impacts of ethnicity and stigma on HIV prevalence and on access to care in cities in both countries. They will begin with a rapid policy assessment that offers a better understanding for how systems of prevention and care are organized and how IDUs feel about accessing these services. Further explorations will be done to understand the nature of the three facets of stigma as perceived by IDUs from the dominant and nondominant ethnic groups in each city. The researchers also will conduct a quantitative study to test hypotheses about the impacts of ethnicity and stigma on HIV prevalence and access to prevention and care services. The international researchers are working with Yale University’s Dr. Robert Heimer.
  • U.S. investigator Dr. Hendree Jones is collaborating with Dr. Irma Kirtadze, a 2010 World Health Organization/NIDA/College on Problems of Drug Dependence International Traveling Fellow, and Dr. David Otiashvili, M.D., former NIDA Hubert H. Humphrey Fellow, the Republic of Georgia, to identify the patterns of drug use and cultural contexts of risks in order to adapt and test a comprehensive treatment model for women IDUs with the intent to avert an HIV epidemic and further increases in HCV within the country. Dr. Evgeny Krupitsky, Bekhterev Research Psychoneurological Institute, St. Petersburg, Russia, and 2010 recipient of the NIDA International Award of Excellence, is a co-investigator in Russia and is providing his expert guidance and input on the unique and similar aspects that are occurring in Georgia and Russia which drive the rates of HIV and related co-diseases. He also will provide the scientific team with insight into the factors operating to maintain and reduce drug use in women.
  • South African researchers Drs. Jessie Mbwambo and Anne-Gloria Moleko, along with U.S. investigator Dr. William W. Latimer, Johns Hopkins University, are working to address the large-scale HIV pandemic in Sub-Saharan African countries. A 2008 Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS report indicates that adults and children living with HIV/AIDS in South Africa and Tanzania account for more than 6.5 million cases in the worldwide epidemic. The researchers plan to test a brief intervention model that can feasibly reach large numbers of drug users at increased risk for HIV. They also aim to test a more intensive couples intervention that may be needed to foster behavior change among high-risk groups disproportionately affected by HIV, including young women who use drugs and trade sex.

NIDA staff welcomed 26 fellows from 22 nations as part of an orientation for new fellowship awardees. International Program Director Dr. Steven W. Gust and Associate Director Dale Weiss hosted the Hubert H. Humphrey Fellows from Virginia Commonwealth University, Johns Hopkins University, and Emory University, who were joined by NIDA INVEST and INVEST/CTN Fellows, and a DISCA awardee for the 3-day orientation. Fellows learned about the Institute’s international research priorities as well as NIDA and National Institutes of Health resources and collaboration and training tools that the fellows can access during their time in the United States and after they return to their country to continue their research.

Drs. Joseph Perpich and Krystyna Isaacs discussed the NIDA International Virtual Collaboratory (NIVC) and the Humphrey Fellowship Professional Affiliation Directory created through NIVC. Representatives from NIDA Divisions talked with the fellows about their offices’ international research priorities and opportunities for collaborative international research.

NIDA International Program Director Dr. Steve W. Gust, bottom row far left, and Ms. Dale Weiss, Associate Director, bottom row far right, welcome new 2011 Hubert H. Humphrey, INVEST, and INVEST-CTN Fellows.

NIDA International Program Director Dr. Steve W. Gust, bottom row far left, and Ms. Dale Weiss, Associate Director, bottom row far right, welcome new 2011 Hubert H. Humphrey, INVEST, and INVEST-CTN Fellows.

The fellows visited NIDA’s Intramural Research Program in Baltimore, touring the chemistry and drug metabolism laboratories with Dr. David Gorelick, and the magnetic resonance imaging suite with Dr. Eliot Stein. They heard presentations from Dr. George Uhl of the Molecular Neurobiology Section regarding genetic addiction research, and Dr. Steve Heishman of the Nicotine Psychopharmacology Section about the Institute’s research on nicotine addiction. Fellows also toured the National Library of Medicine and met with staff at the Fogarty International Center.

Application Deadline: April 15, 2011

Full tuition scholarships are available for participation in the 2011 Dutch Summer Institute on Alcohol, Drugs, and Addiction, a multidisciplinary summer training program in addiction research.

The Summer Institute is a 2-week, intensive multidisciplinary program offering graduate-level and continuing professional development training in addiction, while promoting opportunities for international networking.

The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) International Program is offering one full scholarship (not including housing) to a U.S. participant. The Netherlands Organisation for Health Research and Development (ZonMw) will provide five full tuition scholarships (not including housing) for participants from the following countries: Bulgaria, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Lithuania, Latvia, Malta, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, and Slovenia. More information about these and other ZonMw scholarships is available online.

Last year's attendee, Ana Hilde, M.P.H., received a tuition scholarship from the NIDA International Program. Not only did she gain a wealth of knowledge about addiction research, she says of the experience, "I developed linkages and collaborations for future international drug and alcohol research." The experience led to several new opportunities for Ms. Hilde—she was invited to give two talks on the topic of Dutch drug programs and recently submitted an application for a NIDA research grant on adolescent initiation into prescription drug abuse.

The Summer Institute is a joint initiative of ZonMw and the University of Amsterdam Graduate School of Social Sciences.

The Lab - Avoiding Research Misconduct

In “The Lab: Avoiding Research Misconduct," you become the lead characters in an interactive movie and make decisions about integrity in research that can have long-term consequences. The simulation, developed by the Office of Research Integrity, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, addresses responsible conduct of research topics such as avoiding research misconduct, mentorship responsibilities, handling of data, responsible authorship, and questionable research practices. The program includes a simulation with four characters, tutorials that describe step-by-step ways to make ethical decisions, and a facilitator’s guide. Check out The Lab for complete details.

It is with sadness that we mourn the death of Dr. Charles R. Schuster, a much admired and respected member of our scientific community and past NIDA director. Dr. Schuster, who died February 21, 2010, was a pioneer in substance abuse and addiction, opening the path to new research approaches that today are promising treatment strategies. He has authored or co-authored more than 200 scientific journal articles, as well as numerous book chapters and several books. Prior to his death, Dr. Schuster was director of the Addiction Research Institute at Wayne State University. For those wishing to make contributions in his honor, the Schuster family encourages donations to the Friends of NIDA, a nonprofit coalition dedicated to the elimination of drug abuse and addiction.

Distinguished International Scientist Collaboration Award (DISCA) program awardee, Dr. Hwei-Hsien Chen, spent the last 5 months working with Dr. Athina Markou at the University of California, San Diego, to develop a novel pharmaceutical treatment for inhalant abusers. Dr. Chen’s research aimed to characterize the reward-enhancing effect of toluene, a clear liquid with the smell of paint thinners, using the intracranial self-stimulation procedure in mice. She also investigated whether modulation of glutamatergic transmission by sarcosine or N-acetylcysteine could counteract the threshold lowering effects of toluene. Her study results indicated that toluene, as predicted, remarkably enhances the brain stimulation reward. Conversely, her findings revealed that N-acetylcysteine effectively attenuates the toluene-enhanced brain stimulation reward. Further studies are needed to determine whether N-acetylcysteine, a clinically used expectorant, might prove effective as an inhalant cessation aid. Dr. Chen plans to continue her studies in Taiwan.

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

Application Deadlines


Fogarty International Center Program Announcements


  • Society for Prevention Research (SPR)
    May 31–June 3, 2011
    Washington, D.C.
  • Center for Addiction Studies in Africa (CASA) and Global Outreach for Addiction Leadership (GOAL Project)
    July 4–9, 2011
    Western Kenya