National Institute of Substance Use and Addiction Disorders

Notice was given today that the NIH is seeking input on the strategic plan for the new Institute to be created through the merger of NIDA and NIAAA (recommended by the SMRB in September 2010 and written up as a report – before NCATS was ever discussed). You have until May 11th to submit an response electronically on the development of a strategic plan for this new Institute, which will be included in the FY14 budget. There will also be public meetings in 2012, details of which will be released on the NIH Feedback Page.

You are asked to consider and comment on the “potential scientific opportunities and public health needs that are not sufficiently addressed within the existing NIH structure”:

  • Developing a compendium of the pharmacokinetic and pharmacodynamic interactions between alcohol and the therapeutics used to treat general medical and psychiatric conditions (e.g., hypertension, diabetes, epilepsy, depression);
  • Encouraging research on the generation of novel metabolites resulting from the in situ interaction of alcohol with opiates, stimulants, hallucinogens, or inhalants (e.g., the production of cocaethylene when alcohol and cocaine are co-ingested) and their pharmacokinetic and pharmacodynamic properties and toxicity;
  • Understanding the mechanisms by which alcohol and other drugs of abuse increase risk for certain diseases (e.g. cancers), particularly when used in combination;
  • Developing strategies to enhance stakeholder interest in developing medications to treat various addictions, including nicotine and alcohol;
  • Engaging the medical community in prevention and treatment of drug addiction and alcoholism;
  • Encouraging patient recognition and utilization of effective substance abuse treatments;
  • Alleviating the translational bottleneck for treatments to move from the bench to the bedside to the community;
  • Improving prevention efforts by developing a better understanding of the patterns and trajectories of drugs of abuse and their influence on brain development;
  • Designing clinical trials that accurately reflect real-world conditions (e.g., greater inclusion of polydrug users);
  • Encouraging research to elucidate the impact of using one substance (e.g., alcohol) on likelihood of relapse to other substances (e.g., other drugs);
  • Targeting efforts to prevent substance abuse in adolescents and young-adults;
  • Understanding the implications of policy changes on substance use patterns and trajectories, especially in youth; and,
  • Furthering knowledge of tobacco use and addiction, including co-morbidity with other addiction and psychiatric disorders.

Specifically …

To ensure a thorough and comprehensive exploration of the scientific opportunities that could potentially be included in the Scientific Strategic Plan for substance use, abuse, and addiction research at NIH, responses are being sought from addiction research experts and stakeholders, including treatment and prevention specialists, investigators, patient advocates, and policy specialists, as well as from the general public.

Responders should note that the NIH is not seeking input on the SMRB recommendation to establish a new Institute focusing on addiction-related research and public health initiatives. Rather, the agency is seeking input on the scientific opportunities and public health needs that should be included in the Scientific Strategic Plan. Input is sought on the areas described above, as well as any other areas that NIH might consider.

For any of the areas identified above and any other specific areas you believe are worthy of consideration by NIH, please identify the critical issues(s) and effect(s) on the public, on scientists, or both. Please identify and explain which of the issues you identified are, in your opinion, the most important for NIH to address and why.

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