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Friends of NIDA meet with Scientific Advisory Board

The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) has long been a friend to psychology and last year topped the other Institutes by funding more behavioral research than any other at NIH. Psychologists have returned the favor by producing some of the most robust findings in prevention and treatment research in any of the mental health fields.

By Geoff Mumford

There's no doubt that the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) has long been a friend to psychology and last year topped the other Institutes by funding more behavioral research than any other at NIH. Psychologists have returned the favor by producing some of the most robust findings in prevention and treatment research in any of the mental health fields. But we've become even better acquainted with the Institute and its senior staff this past year via the formation of the Friends of NIDA coalition, co-chaired by Bill Dewey and Charles O'Keefe, both of Virginia Commonwealth University. We hope that PSA readers have followed the efforts of Science Policy staff, working on behalf of the coalition, to develop an educational briefing series on Capitol Hill. Perhaps the coalition's most visible effort, each briefing has featured NIDA Director Nora Volkow, a prominent psychological researcher, and a patient perspective.

As we've tried to raise NIDA's visibility on Capitol Hill over the last year, our co-chairs have been hard at work assembling an august Board of Scientific Advisors (BSA). On February 1, the Friends of NIDA Executive Committee met with the BSA for the first time to consider what we might do next. The BSA consists of two retired Congressmen, all the former NIDA Directors, and several former Directors of what is now the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy.

The BSA suggested a number of ways the Friends of NIDA might expand its outreach and work to advance NIDA's mission within the constraints of a very tight budget. One especially timely idea was a recommendation to keep Congress and the Administration mindful of the impact substance abuse has on the economy due to lost worker productivity. Given that this was the day after the President announced his American Competitiveness Initiative, any opportunity to enhance workplace productivity ought to be greeted warmly and we expect the Employees Assistance Professionals Association to be a welcome partner in that effort.

Science Policy staff will continue to coordinate the educational briefing series on Capitol Hill in cooperation with the leadership of the Congressional Caucus on Addiction, Treatment and Recovery. The next briefing (2/23) will focus on the epidemic of prescription drug abuse.