SMRB votes on reorganization of Substance Use, Abuse, and Addiction research

Board members shifted in their support of structural vs. functional options

On September 15, the NIH Scientific Management Review Board (SMRB) received the final report of the Substance, Use, Abuse, and Addiction (SUAA) Working Group (PDF, 742 KB). Dr. Bill Roper, the group’s chair, provided a summary that included an acknowledgement that SUAA members had shifted in their support of structural vs. functional options for the reorganization of substance use, abuse and addiction research at NIH. At a March 10, 2010 briefing (PDF, 381 MB), Roper indicated that a minority of the SUAA members supported a structural merger and a majority of the members supported a functional merger (6 to 2). Additional votes taken during the interim leading up to the September meeting indicated the group had become evenly split.

Following discussion, the SMRB voted to accept a motion recommending a structural reorganization option, which if acted upon by the NIH Director would establish an institute to include alcohol, tobacco, other substance use, abuse and addiction, and compulsive use behaviors. Although the SUAA report included a findings section on comorbidity, it was unclear from the options presented, and the SMRB deliberations and final vote, how the NIH comorbid mental health disorders research portfolio (anxiety, depression, PTSD, etc.) would be accommodated in a proposed reorganization. While the extramural research community awaits a decision from NIH Director Collins on how he plans to proceed, APA’s Science GRO staffer Geoff Mumford is actively working with the Presidents of the College on Problems of Drug Dependence, the Research Society on Alcoholism, the Society for Research on Nicotine and Tobacco, and the Society of Behavioral Medicine to chart a path forward.