Fall 2009 • Issue 19


SMRB Continues Discussion on Alcohol and Drug Use, Abuse, and Addiction

At its first meeting, held April 27–28, 2009, the NIH Scientific Management Review Board (SMRB) decided to further consider whether structural changes could enhance research efforts on alcohol and drug use, abuse, and addiction. The full SMRB created the Substance Use, Abuse and Addiction (SUAA) Working Group to consider this issue in depth. The full SMRB is required to meet four more times before making its final recommendation.

On September 23, the SUAA working group convened for a day-long discussion of public health and science considerations in substance use, abuse, and addiction research. SUAA met again on October 14 with representatives from academia, industry, and the judicial system. These discussions will help inform the group’s recommendation to the full SMRB committee. One of the potential recommendations could be merger of NIAAA and the National Institute on Drug Abuse; however, the charge to the SUAA stated that other options for enhancing alcohol and drug research also were potential outcomes.

The SMRB was authorized by the NIH Reform Act of 2006 and signed into law in January 2007. The NIH Reform Act provides certain organizational authorities to HHS and NIH officials regarding NIH Institutes and Centers and the Office of the Director. The purpose of the SMRB is to advise HHS and NIH officials on the use of those organizational authorities. Information on SMRB activities, including a videocast of the September and October meetings, is available at http://smrb.od.nih.gov. The next meeting of the full SMRB will be held November 12–13 on the NIH campus.

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