Director of National Institute on Drug Abuse gives update on priorities

Friends of NIDA coalition convenes at APA for annual meeting.

On Nov.18, the Friends of the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) coalition convened at the headquarters of the American Psychological Association for its annual all-members meeting. NIDA Director Nora Volkow spoke to a room full of advocates about the disruptive effects of the recent government shutdown, including cancellation of study sections and the reality that fewer grant applications would be reviewed as a result. According to Volkow, funding cuts for the institute based on the federal budget sequester might necessitate stopping certain programs in order to maintain excellence in the institute’s work.  

Volkow updated the coalition on broader National Institutes of Health (NIH) initiatives including the BRAIN Initiative and the Big Data initiative and their impacts on the institute. The Big Data initiative, which accounts for a large portion of the investment dollars from the NIH Common Fund, presents an opportunity for discoveries related to comorbidities of substance abuse with chronic pain, mental illnesses and other conditions. Volkow also emphasized the importance of developing public-private partnerships in basic research.

Volkow discussed the importance for NIDA of investing in new investigators, including encouraging minorities to enter the research field. NIDA will be providing more funding for the Centers of Excellence program, which has proven success in attracting minority scientists.

The institute continues to focus on implementation strategies for substance abuse and HIV prevention, and on medication development, including promising new research on vaccines, and translation of research into practice within clinics. Other priorities include research on analgesics, on synthetic cannabinoids and their association with stroke, on bath salts, on the use of social media for prevention efforts and on the effects of state policies legalizing marijuana.  

The Affordable Care Act has presented an opportunity and a challenge for NIDA; the institute continues to focus on examining the most effective strategies for integration of screening and intervention for substance abuse disorders in the health care system and in community treatment programs.

Friends of NIDA is a coalition of individuals, scientific and professional societies, patient groups and other organizations committed to the elimination of drug abuse and addiction through education, advocacy and the promotion of broad public and private support for the NIDA research agenda. The coalition sponsors the Charles R. Schuster Educational Briefing Series on Capitol Hill.

For more information contact Christine Jamieson.