CPDD 2008

As previously mentioned, I'm attending a meeting of an academic society focused on drug abuse science, The College on Problems of Drug Dependence. I'm not planning to blog live or anything like that but I may have a comment or three.

First up, NIDA Director Dr. Nora Volkow

Director Volkow frequently opens the meeting with an overview of NIDA priorities, using figures from recently published papers to illustrate the thinking underlying the priorities. She also usually ties these interests to their existing or recent RFAs. It is a GoodIdea to pay attention to the Director and what she has to say about NIDA priorities. If you plan to get NIDA funding, anyway.

  • NIH Roadmap 1.5, two key projects epigenetics (NIDA, NIEHS and NIDCD are the lead institutes)
  • Science of Behavioral Change- behavioral interventions for disease prevention and management (a tiny budget as far as Roadmap initiatives go but important for the symbolism)
  • R01 Transformative Research that can shift paradigms. "If you can remember one thing from this week..."
  • "epidemiological data to guide our work" (hey, she's singing my song!)
    • 7 of top 11 substances used by 12th graders in past year are prescription drugs
    • She made a personal request to MtF guys for a data extraction showing that consistent exercise reduces drug incidence. (6/6/08 notice of impending RFA on this)
  • Medications development is a high priority.
    • Immunopharmacotherapy: Cocaine and Nicotine clinical trials, mentioned new efforts for heroin and methamphetamine
      immunopharmacotherapy

    • major goal to enhance the immune response
    • Example of Haney et al 2008 paper on Δ9-THC and Lofexidine in cannabis relapse. Δ9-THC (the agonist) not ameliorative by itself but in is effective in combination with the α2-adrenergic agonist lofexidine. [Ed- An era of agonist+ therapy?]
  • Technology for treatment
    • Web based technology for prefention, treatment and education (hey, do blogs count???)
    • computer supplement to cognitive/behavioral therapy provides a low cost enhancement for maintaining abstinence (Bickel et al, 2008)
    • fMRI biofeedback to generate learned control over pain modulation

Journalism award to William C. Moyers


Mr. Moyers
is an engaging speaker. He offered a personal vignette of his last (?) binge; detailed in his book, Broken
Mr. Moyers is an alcoholic and substance abuser who is in recovery; he now works for the Hazeldon Foundation and promotes public understanding of drug addiction.
Mr. Moyers' emphasized his privileged background in terms of education, morals, religious tradition, wealth, a loving and supportive family in making his essential point that "addiction does not discriminate". He further emphasized the good fortune he enjoyed in having that "one last chance" extended to him, as well as the opportunity for first class inpatient treatment; he argued that "recovery should not discriminate either".
Mr. Moyers outlined the political opportunity afforded by the upcoming change in the White House and the likely increased focus on significant changes to our national approach to health care. He sees this as a critical opportunity to advance his goal of "parity", which is a goal of getting the health care systems to treat drug addiction as any other health insurance covered disease.


William Dewey on Billy Martin

(posthumous Nathan B. Eddy Awardee; Professor Martin passed away on June 6, 2008)
Professor Dewey summarized the major contributions of Billy Martin to the understanding of cannabinoid function and pharmacology.

  • Tolerance was receptor based, not metabolic; high Δ9-THC levels in brain of tolerant animals (mice, rats, dogs)
  • Withdrawal syndrome in laboratory animals
  • Relative potency of Δ9-THC, cannabinol (a tenth of δ9-THC's potency) and cannabidiol (zero) in the CNS.
  • Establishment of the tetrad test for cannabinoid activity (analgesia, sedation, catalepsy, hypothermia) in mice
  • Reported stereoselective binding in brain tissue (prior to cloning of cannabinoid receptors)
  • elucidated sites of action for effects of cannabinoids on pain, memory, catalepsy...
  • Endocannabinoid behavioral pharmacology; anandamide, 2-AG
  • Novel compounds, several patents

Report from CPDD's hired lobbyist

This is always a good presentation to attend because he re-emphasizes the budget numbers in terms of the real dollars adjusted for an inflation index specific to biomedical research. [Hint: a flat budget is a real dollar reduction]
One of the more intriguing graphs shown was the historical funding levels of the NIH with a function fit to the pre-doubling era and extended forward. The numbers were represented in inflation adjusted dollars if I have it right. What was clearly shown is that the past 5 years of relatively flat budgets have essentially erased the gains of the doubling period, putting the NIH right back on the line fit to the pre-doubling trends. (The data were, IIRC, from a NEJM article that I'm trying to track down)

2 responses so far

  • What a tremendous list of accomplishments made by Billy Martin and his group. There must be a palpable sense of loss at the meeting.

  • DrugMonkey says:

    Indeed. Just about anyone who made an memorial comment from a podium, including Director Volkow, was choking back tears.

Leave a Reply