Also in this Issue
Making Methamphetamine Treatment Results Crystal Clear
Methamphetamine dependence has become a pervasive public health problem because it is easy to make and it is highly addictive. Policy-makers have been asking how they can decrease the toll methamphetamine is taking on our society, so on June 28th the Friends of the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) held an educational briefing on Capitol Hill to highlight NIDA's methamphetamine research portfolio. Science Policy staffers Sara Robinson and Geoff Mumford arranged the speaker line-up and organized the briefing logistics. Seventeen organizations co-sponsored the event which drew 180 attendees…a science policy briefing record!
The briefing, entitled "Methamphetamine Addiction: Cause for Concern - Hope for the Future", was the third in a series the Friends of NIDA have sponsored over the last 12 months and was coordinated with the Congressional Caucus to Fight and Control Methamphetamine as well as the Addiction, Treatment and Recovery Caucus. The three speakers included: Nora Volkow, MD, Director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, who provided an overview of the NIDA methamphetamine research portfolio; APA member Richard Rawson, PhD, Associate Director, UCLA Integrated Substance Abuse Programs, Department of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Science, University of California - Los Angeles who discussed results from his NIDA-funded Matrix treatment research; and Vicki Sickels, a counselor in a research program in Des Moines, Iowa who provided her personal perspective on her recovery from methamphetamine addiction. By describing how research results can be turned into effective community treatment interventions, the speakers helped the audience understand how NIDA-funded research is working to help methamphetamine addicted individuals return to productive and fulfilling lives.
Both Congressmen Rick Larsen (D-WA), the Methamphetamine Caucus Co-Chair and Brian Baird (D-WA), who started the Caucus several years ago, attended the briefing. Rep. Larsen addressed the audience and, although impressed with the results, advocated for additional research on what treatment works best for whom.
NIGMS to Issue Program Announcement for Behavioral Research Collaborations on Animal Models
APA and other behavioral science organizations have called on the National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS) for several years to increase the amount of behavioral and social science research supported by the institute. For the past two years, U.S. Reps. Patrick Kennedy (D-RI) and Brian Baird (D-WA) have also been pressing for NIGMS to broaden its basic research portfolio to more fully embrace basic behavioral research. Following discussions with behavioral science representatives including David Abrams, PhD, the Director of the NIH Office of Behavioral and Social Sciences Research, Director Jeremy Berg, PhD, brought a 'concept clearance' proposal before the NIGMS advisory council in June.
NIGMS program director Laurie Tompkins described plans for a program announcement to facilitate collaborations between behavioral scientists and investigators with expertise in state-of-the-art genetics, molecular biology, or genomics. The goal is to enhance existing animal models or develop new models of normal or abnormal human behavior. The collaborations will consist of one investigator who is an expert basic behavioral scientist with little or no experience doing genetic, molecular, or genomic analysis, and another investigator who is an expert in genetics, genomics, or molecular biology but has little or no experience analyzing behavior. Dr. Tompkins received Council approval for issuing a program announcement soliciting collaborative R01 and R21 applications. For more information, contact her by email, or 301-594-0943. The announcement will be termed "Collaborative Genetic and Genomic Studies of Basic Behavior in Animal Models."
APA Releases Report of Task Force on Ethics and National Security
On July 5, APA released the report of its Presidential Task Force on Psychological Ethics and National Security. The Task Force met June 23-26, 2005 with the charge of examining whether our current APA Ethics Code adequately addresses the ethical dimensions of psychologists' involvement in national security-related activities, whether APA provides adequate ethical guidance to psychologists involved in these endeavors, and whether APA should develop policy to address the role of psychologists and psychology in investigations related to national security. Recognizing the ethical complexity of this work, which takes place in unique settings and constantly evolving circumstances, the Task Force was nonetheless able to set forth clear statements about psychologists' ethical obligations.
The Task Force was unambiguous that when psychologists serve in any position by virtue of their training, experience and expertise, the APA Ethics Code applies. Psychologists do not engage in, direct, support, facilitate, or offer training in torture or other cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment, and psychologists have an ethical responsibility to be alert to and report any such acts to appropriate authorities. The Task Force also stated that it is consistent with the APA Ethics Code for psychologists to serve in consultative roles to interrogation and information gathering processes for national security-related purposes, as psychologists have a long-standing tradition of doing in other law enforcement contexts. Acknowledging that engaging in such consultative and advisory roles entails a delicate balance of ethical considerations, the Task Force stated that psychologists are in a unique position to assist in ensuring that these processes are safe and ethical for all participants.
There have been a variety of responses from the APA membership and the media to the report, as well as ongoing activity within the executive and legislative branches to address the broad issue of health and mental health professionals' involvement in national security settings. Science Policy staff involved in the Task Force (Geoff Mumford and Heather Kelly) encourage scientists to read the full report and to direct any questions to Stephen Behnke, Director of APA's Ethics Office, at 202.336.6006.