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Director's Report to the National Advisory Council on Drug Abuse
February, 2002

International Activities

Continuing efforts that began in 1999 with an Exchange of Letters between the two countries, 29 scientists participated in the U.S. - Netherlands Workshop on Bi-National Research Collaboration on Drug Abuse and Drug Addiction, convened September 6 and 7, 2001, in Cumberland, Maryland. The symposia and workshop sessions focused on MDMA (Ecstasy) epidemiology, pharmacology, psychology, and neurotoxicity; treatment models; the impact of stress and anxiety on addiction; public health issues; and collaborative research proposals. Presenters included then NIDA Director, Dr. Alan I. Leshner; Dr. Glen Hanson, DNBR; Mr. Richard A. Millstein, Deputy Director, NIDA and Acting Director, DESPR; Dr. Steven Gust, OSPC; Dr. Frank Vocci, DTR&D; and Dr. Betty Tai, CCTN. NIDA and the Netherlands Research and Development Program on Substance Use and Addiction will initially support three collaborative research projects: 1) Dr. Alfons Crijnen, Erasmus Medical Center of Rotterdam, and Dr. Nicholas Ialongo, Johns Hopkins, will conduct comparative studies on prevention of initial drug use in early adolescence in Baltimore and four Dutch cities; 2) Dr. Dirk Korf, University of Amsterdam, and Dr. Lana Harrison, University of Delaware, will compare potential influences on drug-related violence among youth; and 3) Dr. Dorret I. Boomsma, Free University of Amsterdam, and Dr. Michael Neale, Virginia Commonwealth University will conduct molecular genetic studies to identify genes implicated in nicotine addiction.

NIDA and the Mexican National Council of Science and Technology (CONADIC) cosponsored a pre-conference research symposium at the 4th U.S. - Mexico Binational Conference on Demand Reduction in Mexico City. Participants evaluated binational collaborative research, training, and professional development, and discussed priorities for future binational research in drug abuse prevention, treatment, and epidemiology. Participants included Ms. Ana Anders, OD, and former INVEST Research Fellows, Dr. Guilherme Borges and Dr. Silvia Cruz.

NIDA welcomed the 2001-2002 Hubert H. Humphrey Drug Abuse Research Fellows with an orientation program December 7, 2001. NIDA staff members who briefed the Fellows about Institute activities included: Dr. Timothy P. Condon, Associate Director, NIDA; Dr. Steven W. Gust, Acting Director, International Program; Dr. Frank Vocci, DTR&D; Dr. David Shurtleff, DNBR; Ms. Helen Cesari, CAMCODA; Dr. Peter Delany, DESPR; and Dr. Betty Tai, CCTN. Four Fellows are supported by NIDA: Dr. Monica Beg, Bangladesh; Dr. Petra Exnerova, Czech Republic; Ms. Olga Toussova, Russia; and Dr. Svitlana Pkhidenko, Ukraine.

The 2000-2002 INVEST Research Fellows have begun their postdoctoral research and training with NIDA grantees. Dr. Zhao Min, China, is working with Dr. Howard Liddle, University of Miami, focusing on multidimensional family therapy and research on the relationship of parental psychopathology and treatment outcomes. Dr. Tatiana Tsarouk, Russia, will work with Dr. Elaine Thompson, University of Washington, to examine the effect of adolescent depression on drug abuse; learn advanced methods of data management and analysis; and receive training in the NIDA-supported intervention Reconnecting Youth. Dr. Debasish Basu, India will work with Dr. Joel Gelernter, Yale University, to study genetic susceptibility to opioid or cocaine dependence.

NIDA supported the participation of Dr. Ken Winters, University of Minnesota, at the Center for Youth Integration 4th International Symposium on Drug Abuse in Mexico City, December 6 and 7, 2001.

Drs. Jag H. Khalsa and Henry (Skip) Francis of the Center on AIDS and Other Medical Consequences of Drug Abuse (CAMCODA) initiated, planned, organized, and conducted a conference on “Blood-borne and Sexually Transmitted Infections Among IVDUs and their Partners in the United States, Latin America, and the Caribbean: Experiences and Lessons Learned” in Buenos Aires, Argentina, December 17-19, 2001. Dr. Jerry Flanzer, DESPR also presented at the conference. This was NIDA’s first collaboration with the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO)/World Health Organization (WHO). Collaborators from PAHO included Drs. Rafael Mazin, Armando Peruga, and Fernando Zacarias. The objectives of the conference were: (a) to facilitate the exchange of experiences, lessons learned and “best practices” between experts in the Western Hemisphere; (b) to discuss medical, behavioral and other relevant public health consequences of infections and injecting drug use, as well as the current situation and trends in these regions; and (c) to review successful behavioral, medical and public health interventions implemented both in the U.S.A. and in Latin America and the Caribbean that may be adopted/adapted by each other. A group of 32 clinicians, scientists, and other health care providers, including Dr. Mercedes Weissenbacher (University of Argentina, Buenos Aires), from these regions reviewed and/or discussed the current information on the topic and made recommendations for further research and collaborations among the investigators. A brief summary in English, Spanish and Portuguese will appear on the Homepage soon. A publication of the proceedings in a professional journal is also planned. In addition, PAHO will issue a bulletin in Spanish.

Drs. Eve Reider and Jerry Flanzer presented to a delegation of seven visitors from Central Asia that was held at the Fogarty International Center on August 28, 2001. The visitors were from the Freedom Support Grant Project for Central Asia. Their focus was on HIV/AIDS Awareness and their visit was conducted by the U.S. Department of State International Visitor Program for Central Asia. They included clinicians, agency administrators, NGO directors, epidemiologists and educators specializing in HIV/AIDS and drug abuse prevention from five countries of Central Asia.

Dr. Timothy P. Condon, Associate Director, NIDA, presented “Improving Addiction Treatment: Blending Research and Practice” at the 44th International ICAA Conference on the Prevention and Treatment of Dependencies in Heidelberg, Germany on September 4, 2001.

Drs. Steven Gust, Acting Director, NIDA International Program, Jack Stein, Deputy Director, OSPC, Catherine Sasek, OSPC, and Elizabeth Robertson, DESPR met with Mr. Colin Bramfitt, Executive Director, Foundation for Alcohol and Drug Education, Auckland, New Zealand on September 5, 2001. Discussions included NIDA school and workplace prevention efforts and science education programming.

Dr. Elizabeth Robertson, DESPR met with a delegation of 17 participants from Latin America as part of the Western Hemispheric Regional Project: U.S. Drug Demand Reduction Efforts. The group met on September 13, 2001 to discuss NIDA programs on drug abuse prevention research.

Moira O’Brien and Dr. Elizabeth Robertson, DESPR, briefed Mr. Gert Bogers, Policy Advisor for the Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport in the Netherlands on October 23, 2001, on substance abuse trends and prevention in the United States.

Drs. Eve Reider and Jerry Flanzer presented on drug abuse prevention and services research to a delegation of visitors from the Ternopil (Ukraine) Public Health group that was held at the Fogarty International Center on October 30, 2001. The group included physicians and researchers who were visiting the United States through the U.S. Department of State Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs and Legacy International.

Dale Weiss, NIDA International Program, OSPC, provided an overview of NIDA at a briefing for a group of WHO/PAHO International Health Fellows from the Americas on November 8, 2001.

Dr. Steven Gust, Acting Director, International Program, OSPC, led a NIDA briefing for a delegation from Norway on November 20, 2001. NIDA staff, including Drs. Eve Reider and Moira O’Brien, DESPR made presentations concerning prevention and epidemiology. The visiting delegation included Knut Brofoss and Astrid Keretting, National Institute for Alcohol and Drug Research (SIRUS), Martha Rubiano Skretteberg, Pål Winnæs and Jon Nysted, Norwegian Directorate for the Prevention of Alcohol and Drug Problems, Bernt Bull, Norwegian Temperance Alliance, Trude Sletteberg, Juvente, and Trine Stensen Lunde, AlkoKutt.

Drs. Glen Hanson and David Shurtleff, DNBR, met with Mr. Christian Cabal, depute de l’Assemblee Nationale Francaise (Senator), representing the Region of Saint-Etienne, France, his staffer, Mr. Daniel Constant, and Mr. Wahid Bakouche, Scientific Attache at the French Embassy on November 26, 2001. They discussed areas of interest to Mr. Cabal, such as the molecular mechanisms involved in drug use and dependence, the molecular mechanisms involved in the brain when drugs are used, what kind of receptors and what kind of mediators are involved. Also, discussed were the long-term effects of drug use at the cellular levels, on memory, and on brain abilities.

Dr. Timothy Condon, Associate Director, NIDA and Dr. Steven Gust, Acting Director, International Program, OSPC, hosted a meeting with Greek and Turkish Cypriots on December 5, 2001. Also speaking to the group were Dr. Elizabeth Robertson, Prevention Research Branch, DESPR and Dr. Ivan Montoya, CCTN. The Greek Cypriots included Bishop Chrysostomos Macheriotis, Dr. Kyriacos Veresies, and Mr. Nicos G. Mousoulides. The Turkish Cypriots included Dr. Mehmet Cakici, Dr. Inci Tasyurek and Ece Yoldas. The visitors discussed their long-term goal of working towards a bi-communal program to promote advancement of common issues experienced by both sides of the divided island of Cyprus. The NIDA participants offered advice and guidance concerning drug abuse prevention and treatment efforts and avenues for possible collaborations.

Drs. Peter Delany, Bennett Fletcher, and Jacques Normand, and Nicholas Kozel and Susan David, DESPR, briefed representatives of the French government, on December 7, 2001, on epidemiology, prevention, and services research. There was a particular interest in the use of epidemiology and survey data to assess the impact of national programs.

Dr. Elizabeth Robertson and Susan David, Prevention Research Branch, DESPR, met with two Humphrey Fellows on December 17, 2001, who were interested in developing and evaluating national drug abuse prevention media campaigns in their home countries of the Czech Republic and Romania.

Dr. Eve Reider, Prevention Research Branch, DESPR, and Dr. Peter Hartsock, CAMCODA, participated in a meeting hosted by NIAID on December 19, 2001, for a group of visiting Russian Clinicians and Prevention Researchers from Khabarovsk Krai and the Jewish Autonomous Region (both in Eastern Siberia near Vladivostok and Manchuria) and the Republic of Tartastan (Kazan). They were accompanied by Harvey Sloan, M.D., Eurasian Medical Education Program, Washington D.C. The Institute for Health Policy Analysis in partnership with the American College of Physicians directs this program of continuing medical education for Russian physicians.

Drs. Frank Vocci and Ahmed Elkashef, DTR&D, represented NIDA at the 2001 International Society of Addiction Medicine (ISAM) conference: Sharing International Responsibilities in a Changing World in Trieste, Italy from September 12-14, 2001. Dr. Vocci chaired a session on Treatment of Addictions and presented a talk entitled, “Medications for the Treatment of Opiate Dependence: Current Therapies and New Developments”. Dr. Elkashef presented a talk entitled,” Medications Development for the Treatment of Cocaine Dependence at NIDA”.

Dr. Frank Vocci presented a plenary lecture entitled, ”Current Efforts and New Directions in Addictions Pharmacotherapy: Research and Treatment” at an ISAM satellite symposium in Ljubljana, Slovenia on September 15, 2001.

Dr. Peter Hartsock, CAMCODA, participated in the International AIDS Vaccine 2001 Conference that took place from September 5-8, 2001 in Philadelphia, PA. Dr. Hartsock presented on NIDA’s AIDS epidemiology prevention and epidemiology research with applications to vaccine development and vaccine distribution to high risk groups such as drug users. Dr. Hartsock also met with NIH Office of AIDS Research staff, NIH/NIAID staff, and visiting Russian colleagues to develop U.S.-Russian coordination in AIDS vaccine development and vaccine availability to high risk groups.

Through arrangements made with the Fogarty International Center of the National Institutes of Health, the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science awarded Dr. Cesario V. Borlongan a short-term fellowship to pursue collaborative research in Japan, November 22 through December 8, 2001. These fellowships are intended to enhance American-Japanese collaboration in biomedical and behavioral research by providing flexible opportunities for capable American scientists to work with colleagues in leading Japanese laboratories on substantive projects of mutual interest. Dr. Borlongan conducted research collaboration on “Transplantation of melatonin-secreting pineal gland in stroke animals” with Dr. Hitoo Nishino (Japanese collaborator), Department of Physiology, Nagoya City University Medical School.

Dr. Cesario Borlongan, IRP, give a talk entitled “Immunosuppressants as Neuroprotective Agents for Neurological Disorders” at the symposium entitled “New Strategy for Neural Transplantation”, November 25-27, 2001, Nagoya, Japan.

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