Summer 2010 • Issue 20

 

SUAA Work Group of the SMRB Reports on Optimizing Addictions Research

The Substance Use, Abuse, and Addiction (SUAA) Work Group of the Scientific Management Review Board (SMRB) is continuing to develop its recommendations for optimizing substance abuse and addiction research at the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Two significant meetings took place recently.

On March 10, the SUAA Work Group provided its initial findings on the potential for organizational change to foster greater collaboration between the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) and the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) to the full SMRB during a meeting held at NIH. At that meeting, William Roper, M.D., M.P.H., chair of the SUAA Work Group, reported that Group’s majority view is that the best way to proceed is a functional reorganization of research programs with a relevant scientific focus. A minority of SUAA Work Group members support a full structural merger.

At the SMRB’s meeting on May 18, panels of experts were convened to further discuss the SUAA Work Group’s proposed organizational options for considering the public health aspects of addiction, as well as how best to capitalize on research opportunities across NIH while maintaining the individual strengths of NIAAA’s and NIDA’s research portfolios. NIAAA Acting Director Ken Warren, Ph.D., and NIDA Director Nora Volkow, M.D., were then asked to comment on the SUAA’s proposed levels of organizational change for the two Institutes. A public comment period followed.

The Work Group was charged with “fleshing out” functional options and is expected to present formal recommendations to the SMRB during a public teleconference later this summer. The SMRB will hold its next full Board meeting September 14–15, 2010 in Bethesda, MD.