Number 34, January 2011

The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) International Program hosted a group of four Iraqis taking part in the Iraq–Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) Initiative. In 2008, Iraq and SAMHSA launched the initiative, in which multidisciplinary behavioral health teams from Iraq visit SAMHSA and host sites around the United States to learn about various interventions the teams want to adapt for implementation in Iraq. The substance abuse team visited NIDA on November 1, 2010, which included a tour of the National Library of Medicine, a meeting with NIDA staff, including Dr. Jag Khalsa, Division of Pharmacotherapies and Medical Consequences of Drug Abuse, Dr. Cece McNamara-Spitznas, Division of Clinical Neuroscience and Behavioral Research, Dr. Eve Reider and Dr. Tom Brady, Division of Epidemiology, Services and Prevention Research, Dr. Petra Jacobs, Center for Clinical Trials Network, and Ms. Dale Weiss, NIDA International Program, and a visit to the Drug Court of Montgomery County, Maryland.

In November 2010, 65 researchers joined NIDA and Fogarty International Center (FIC) fellowship and trainee alumni in Hanoi, Vietnam, to initiate an Asian Regional Research Collaboration Network.

The Hanoi meeting is one of the many regional meetings that are taking place among drug abuse and HIV/AIDS researchers across the globe to bridge the regional gap that often hinders the exchange of research ideas and the development of constructive collaborations. Researchers from eight countries in the region (Burma, Cambodia, China, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Thailand, and Vietnam) met with National Institutes of Health (NIH) researchers and representatives of government and international agencies to discuss regional research priorities in drug-related HIV/AIDS. The meeting was hosted by NIDA, FIC, and Hanoi Medical University, with support from the NIH Office of AIDS Research.

Meeting objectives included (1) enhancing research development in the region by networking researchers sharing common interests in prevention, treatment, and care; (2) linking current research and program implementation and evaluation from the region with programmatic activities in individual countries, such as those supported by the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), the Global Fund To Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria, and others; and (3) providing information on current and former activities in the region for research, research training, and program implementation and evaluation. Participants were especially pleased by the opportunity to meet one another, many for the first time, and to establish a follow-up communications network using the NIDA International Virtual Collaboratory (NIVC). The NIVC group will be coordinated by a group of Asian researchers in cooperation with NIDA and FIC. For more information about the group, contact Dr. M. Patricia Needle,

Based on the latest data from 182 countries, the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), new Global Report provides evidence that the many HIV prevention programs around the globe are producing significant results.

Global Report

The Global Report: UNAIDS Report on the Global AIDS Epidemic is a comprehensive analysis on the AIDS epidemic and response. For the first time, the report includes trend data on incidence from more than 60 countries.

According to the report, data show that the AIDS epidemic is beginning to change course as the number of people newly infected with HIV is declining and AIDS-related deaths are decreasing. These investments in prevention are paying off, although the report warns that the gains are “fragile.” Although the number of new HIV infections is decreasing, there are two new HIV infections for every one person starting HIV treatment.

The report notes that roughly 20 percent of the estimated 15.9 million people who inject drugs worldwide are living with HIV. Access to HIV prevention services, including risk reduction programs for people who inject drugs, has reached 32 percent—far short of what is needed to protect drug users from HIV worldwide.

A new document, published by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), reports that the manufacture, trafficking, and consumption of amphetamine-type stimulant (ATS) drugs in Myanmar, one of the largest countries in Southeast Asia, is worsening.

The East and Southeast Asia region comprises about 28 percent of the world’s population. It is also home to between 50 percent and 80 percent of the estimated total number of ATS users in the whole of Asia. Over the past decade, Myanmar has become a major producer of stimulants in the region, particularly methamphetamine pills. The new report, Myanmar: Situation Assessment on Amphetamine-Type Stimulants, notes that the availability and use of ATS is increasing and is a cause for concern. Moreover, the impact of methamphetamine and other ATS trafficked from Myanmar affects not only the country’s immediate neighbors but also parts of East and Southeast Asia.

The availability of data from Myanmar, according to the report, demonstrates the increased efforts by government agencies to tackle the drug problem. However, it cites several factors that impede progress toward effective and evidence-based responses, including lack of laws and policies conducive to dealing with synthetic drugs, not enough information sharing between relevant agencies, and a lack of consolidated information and focused research on ATS use.

Speaking at the launch of the report in Bangkok, Gary Lewis, UNODC regional representative for East Asian and the Pacific, noted that this first-of-its-kind assessment will provide a “clearer understanding of ATS in Myanmar, in order to design effective and evidence-informed responses.”

Dr. David Shurtleff was recently named acting deputy director of NIDA. Dr. Shurtleff, who has been director of the Institute’s Division of Basic Neuroscience and Behavioral Research (DBNBR), will assist in developing, implementing, and managing NIDA’s programs, priorities, resources, policies, and research dissemination efforts.

Before becoming director of DBNBR, Dr. Shurtleff served as the deputy director for the Division and as a health scientist administrator in the Behavioral Sciences Research Branch within the Division where he supported extramural research in the basic behavioral sciences, including research in the cognitive sciences, behavioral economics, decision theory, human and animal models of impulsivity, risk taking, and other aspects of drug addiction. Before coming to NIDA, Dr. Shurtleff was a research psychologist at the Naval Medical Research Institute in Bethesda, Maryland, following a research fellowship at the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research, in the Department of Medical Neurosciences.

Dr. Shurtleff replaces Dr. Timothy P. Condon, Ph.D., who now serves as a science policy advisor for the White House Office on National Drug Control Policy.

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) recently announced its plans to create a new Institute focusing on substance use, abuse, and addiction research and related public health initiatives. This Institute would integrate the relevant research portfolios from NIDA, the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, and other NIH Institutes and Centers. NIH Director Dr. Francis Collins said in a statement that “the formation of a single, new Institute devoted to such research makes scientific sense and would enhance NIH’s efforts to address the substance abuse and addiction problems that take such a terrible toll on our society.”

A new task force of experts from within NIH will look carefully across all of NIH’s 27 Institutes and Centers to determine where substance use, abuse, and addiction research programs currently exist and make recommendations about what programs should be moved into the proposed new Institute. In the interim, all existing substance use, abuse, and addiction research programs at NIH will continue as they are.

NIDA staff members attended an International Program briefing about free, online drug abuse research training modules available through, a Web site developed by Medical Directions, Inc. (MDI), with NIDA International Program Small Business Innovative Research funding through Danya International. The courses include biostatistics; evaluating substance abuse programs; designing and managing clinical trials; and the new neurobiology of addiction, which includes state-of-the-science interactive 3-D animation of brain pathways developed by MDI and NIDA grantee Nick Gilpin, University of California, Los Angeles Laboratory of Neuroimaging. Participants at the briefing were enthusiastic about the courses and offered several suggestions about how NIDA can promote these courses among grantee, constituent, and partner organizations.

Twenty-five new NIDA international fellows and Hubert H. Humphrey Fellowship Program support staff participated in four virtual tutorial sessions in November 2010, designed to introduce them to the NIDA International Virtual Collaboratory (NIVC). The password-protected NIVC helps members exchange research data and ideas, as well as participate in professional development programs. Tools include the discussion forum; an archived, searchable e-mail listserv; a wiki to create and edit documents together; personalized document libraries; a virtual meeting room that allows users to share and edit documents in real time during audio or video conferences complemented by instant messaging; and virtual seminars, which are recorded for use at any time.

NIDA and two other National Institutes of Health (NIH) components have partnered with the Department of Biotechnology (DBT) of the Republic of India on a new R21 Program Announcement on bilateral brain research collaborative partnerships.

Bilateral Brain Research Collaborative Partnerships
Letters of Intent Due: February 22, 2011
Applications Due: March 22, 2011

The U.S.–India Bilateral Brain Research Collaborative Partnerships (PAR-11-099) are designed to establish and enhance bilateral research collaborations between U.S. and Indian neuroscientists working to understand, treat, or cure neurological, mental, and addictive disorders. Applications must involve at least one U.S. investigator from an eligible U.S. institution and one or more Indian investigator affiliated with an Indian institution deemed eligible by DBT. In addition to NIDA, other NIH components participating in the Program Announcement include the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke and National Institute of Mental Health.

Three new INVEST Drug Abuse Research Fellows were selected to spend 12 months of postdoctoral research training in the United States with professional development activities and grant-writing guidance. In addition, the NIDA International Program and the Clinical Trials Network (CTN) have selected five new INVEST/CTN Drug Abuse Research Fellows, who will spend a year conducting mentored postdoctoral research with a NIDA grantee affiliated with 1 of the 16 CTN Regional Research and Training Centers. The new INVEST and INVEST/CTN fellows include:

INVEST Fellows:

  • Saeed Momtazi, Ph.D., Iran, will work with Richard A. Rawson, Ph.D., Integrated Substance Abuse Programs, University of California, Los Angeles, to attain expertise in questionnaire construction, sampling strategies and analyzing results of data in order to carry out the project objective of determining how sociocultural risk and protective and resiliency factors change in immigrants and how these same factors interact with the host country’s factors.
  • Gabor Egervari, Hungary, who will work with mentor Yasmin L. Hurd, Ph.D., Mount Sinai School of Medicine, plans to study the expression of mTOR pathway proteins and related mRNAs in the brains of human heroin abusers, exploring brain regions highly implicated in substance dependence. The aim of the study is to provide significant insights about the role of mTOR in drug-induced synaptic plasticity relevant to human heroin abuse and fine tuning treatment strategies for specific phases of the abuse cycle.
  • Arina Tyurina, Ph.D., Russa, will work with mentor Jeffrey Samet, M.D., M.P.H., Boston Medical Center, Boston University School of Medicine, to investigate the impact of depressive symptoms of alcohol and marijuana use on HIV risk-behaviors among people with HIV. She plans to assess the impact of these factors on HIV-related risk behaviors, including needle/syringe sharing and high-risk sex behaviors, while also examining the data with regard to gender differences.


  • Cecile Denis, Ph.D., University of Bordeaux, France, who will work with John Cacciola, Ph.D., and Charles O'Brien, M.D., Ph.D., University of Pennsylvania, will participate in field trials of diagnostic severity measures proposed for the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5). The researchers will compare the DSM-5 measures with Addiction Severity Index (ASI) scores to test the (1) feasibility of combining the two measures in the clinical evaluation of patients, and (2) sensitivity of the diagnostic-specific severity measure against the ASI measures of substance use disorder severity over time. A postdoctoral fellow in the Addiction Psychiatry Laboratory at the University of Bordeaux, Dr. Denis has been responsible for coordinating addiction studies, supervising clinical research associates, and training colleagues to use both the ASI and the Mini International Neuropsychiatric Interview. In addition to working on the DSM-5 field trials, Dr. Denis hopes to build on her knowledge of ASI and acquire new skills to improve assessment tools and treatment outcome measures for substance use disorders.
  • Sergii Dvoriak, M.D., Ph.D., Director of the Ukrainian Institute on Public Health Policy in Kiev, will use his fellowship to learn about new treatment medications and the CTN model for conducting and managing clinical trials so that he can implement national and multinational addiction treatment and HIV risk reduction studies. With his mentor, George Woody, M.D., University of Pennsylvania and CTN Delaware Valley Node, Dr. Dvoriak will finalize and submit a grant application to compare reduction in HIV injection risk behaviors and opioid use by injection drug users treated with suboxone and counseling, methadone and counseling, or counseling alone. Dr. Dvoriak was a NIDA Hubert H. Humphrey Fellow in 1999–2000 and has long collaborated with Dr. Woody and other NIDA grantees.
  • Maria de L. Garcia-Anaya, M.D., M.Sc., National Institute of Psychiatry, “Dr. Ramón de la Fuente Múñiz,” Mexico, will split her fellowship year between Miami and New York. In Miami, Dr.. Garcia-Anaya will work with Jose Szapocznik, Ph.D., University of Miami, conducting quality assurance for the Florida Node trial of the CTN Web-based delivery of psychosocial treatment protocol and helping to launch the CTN trial of hospital visits as an opportunity for prevention and engagement for HIV-infected drug users. She will work with the Greater New York Regional Node under the direction of Edward V. Nunes, M.D., Columbia University and New York State Psychiatric Institute, on CTN trials in behavioral therapy; pharmacotherapy for opioid, cocaine, and cannabis dependence; Web-based delivery of psychosocial treatment; and an effectiveness trial comparing injection naltrexone plus community-based treatment with community-based treatment alone among opioid-dependent patients on parole or probation.
  • Rushit Ismajli, M.D., Labyrinth Multidisciplinary Substance Abuse Treatment Center, Kosovo, will concentrate on learning about screening, brief intervention, and referral to treatment (SBIRT) methods during his fellowship, working with Dennis M. Donovan, Ph.D., University of Washington, and the CTN Pacific Northwest Node. A NIDA Hubert H. Humphrey Fellow in 2007–2008, Dr. Ismajli will then test an SBIRT intervention in two Kosovo secondary schools.
  • Xuyi Wang, M.D., Central South University, China, will work with Walter L. Ling, M.D., University of California, Los Angeles and the CTN Pacific Node, to learn about the CTN model for conducting clinical trials, analyzing data, and preparing manuscripts for publication. Dr. Wang will compare the effectiveness of contingency management with and without antidepressant pharmacotherapy versus standard medical management of methamphetamine dependence. He also will examine the effects of contingency management on general psychosocial functioning.

NIDA supported the participation of two U.S. researchers at a November 23–27, 2010, meeting in Mexico City on the Basic Parent Management Training-Oregon (PMTO) Model. The meeting was organized by Dr. Maria Elena Medina-Mora Icaza, Mexican National Institute of Psychiatry, “Dr. Ramón de la Fuente Múñiz,” to advance the binational research project, Development and Implementation of a Training Model in Positive Parenting Practices in Mexican Families With Children Who Present Behavior Problems. The project aims to implement and evaluate the effectiveness of family-based drug abuse prevention programs in Mexico and with Latino families living in the United States. In preparation for a randomized controlled trial of the model’s effectiveness, Dr. Melanie Domenech-Rodriguez, Utah State University, and Dr. Ana Baumann, Washington University, certified 12 Mexican professionals as therapists in the PMTO model to ensure the fidelity of the PMTO implementation. The collaborative research team also includes Dr. Jorge Villatoro Velázquez and Dr. Nancy Amador Buenabad of the National Institute of Psychiatry.

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

Upcoming Application Deadlines


Fogarty International Center Program Announcements