Summer 2009 • Issue 18

NIAAA Director Presents to NIH SMRB

On April 27 and 28, the NIH Scientific Management Review Board (SMRB) held its first meeting since being 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.

At the meeting, experts from within NIH discussed issues of importance to the future of the NIH. Additionally, past NIH directors Drs. Harold Varmus and Elias Zerhouni presented their perspectives on the current science and the structure of NIH.

Among the topics of discussion at the meeting was the recommendation to study the feasibility of merging NIAAA and the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA). Dr. Lawrence A. Tabak, Acting Deputy Director, NIH; Dr. Kenneth R. Warren, Acting Director, NIAAA; and Dr. Nora D. Volkow, Director, NIDA, briefed SMRB members on the missions, goals, and activities of the institutes.

Speaking in support of maintaining NIAAA and NIDA as separate institutes were Drs. Steven Breckler, American Psychological Association; Michael Charness, Harvard Medical School; Mack Mitchell, ABMRF/The Foundation for Alcohol Research; Peter Monti, Brown University; Sara Jo Nixon, University of Florida; Gyongyi Szabo, American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases; and Mark Schuckit, VA San Diego Healthcare System; as well as the Honorable Linda Chezem, National Alliance for Alcohol Research and Education; and Mr. Tom Donaldson, NOFAS (National Organization on Fetal Alcohol Syndrome).

SMRB members decided to further study the potential merger of NIAAA and NIDA; the Board will create a subcommittee to undertake a detailed examination of the issue.

Information on SMRB activities, including a videocast of the April meeting, is available at

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