Working Group Divided on How to Enhance Substance Use Research at NIH

The majority of the Substance Use Abuse and Addiction (SUAA) Working Group feel the best way to proceed is a functional reorganization of all research programs with a relevant scientific focus, while a minority believe a structural reorganization is needed, merging NIDA and NIAAA into a single institute.
On March 10, the NIH Scientific Management Review Board (SMRB) held its first meeting under the new NIH Director, Dr. Frances Collins. The NIH SMRB website has been a work in progress but has now been updated with all the materials from that meeting including the agenda and the presentations. The archived webcast can be viewed here. Of note to those following the deliberations of the Substance Use Abuse and Addiction (SUAA) Working Group, William Roper, MD, the Chair of the working group reported that they were in “agreement that the status quo is not ideal for fulfilling NIH mission and optimizing research into substance use, abuse and addiction” and that they were “eager to improve how NIH manages research into substance use, abuse and addiction”. The group had not come to agreement about how best to proceed however.  According to Dr. Roper, the majority view held that the best way to proceed is a functional reorganization of all research programs with a relevant scientific focus, while a minority view held that a structural reorganization is needed, involving a merger of NIDA and NIAAA into a single institute focused on alcohol and drug abuse and addiction.  The working group will continue deliberating and will issue a draft recommendation to the full board at its next meeting scheduled for May 18-19.