NIDA director updates coalition on the institute’s research and priorities

Dr. Nora Volkow provided an update on the Institute’s research portfolio, including recent vaccine trials and the potential for developing non-addictive pain medications
On September 26, the Friends of the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) coalition held their annual all-members meeting at APA headquarters, with representatives from 35 member organizations in attendance. NIDA Director Dr. Nora Volkow provided an update on the Institute’s research portfolio, including recent vaccine trials and the potential for developing non-addictive pain medications. Dr. Volkow described how technologies in genomics and brain imaging have led to advances in the field and spoke about the need for new technologies and infrastructure for scientists to share data.  Volkow also discussed the important role of drug abuse research in the effort to reduce the incidence of HIV in the United States and worldwide and emphasized the need to reduce the stigma surrounding addiction in order to promote support for the research. Other current priorities at NIDA include the need for implementation of evidence-based treatments known to be successful that are not yet being employed, and the growing problems of prescription opioid abuse and of overall prescription drug abuse by adolescents, an issue NIDA is working on in coordination with the Surgeon General’s Office. Volkow highlighted the newly launched NIDAMED, a drug use screening tool for clinicians, and NIDA is also currently working with eight other NIH institutes to create a curriculum for the proper screening and treatment of pain. Following the update and discussion with Dr. Volkow, the Friends of NIDA discussed legislative issues related to drug abuse research funding, members’ advocacy efforts, and the future activities of the coalition.