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National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA)

NIAAA Director’s Report on Institute Activities to The 120th Meeting of the National Advisory Council on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism


A. Legislation, Budget, and Policy

B. Director’s Activities

C. NIAAA Staff and Organization

D. Transdisciplinary Research Activities

E. Scientific Meetings

F. NIAAA Research Programs

G. Multi-Media Products from NIAAA

H. Outreach

I. News Media Interactions

J. What’s Ahead

K. NIAAA Program Announcement and Request for Applications Information

A. Legislation, Budget, and Policy

Fiscal Year 2009

On Tuesday, September 30, 2008, President Bush signed Public Law 110-329 (H.R. 2638, Consolidated Security, Disaster Assistance, and Continuing Appropriations Act, 2009), authorizing a Continuing Resolution to provide funding for Federal Government activities through March 6, 2009. The Continuing Resolution funds through March 6 are pro-rated based upon the FY 2008 appropriation of $29.1 billion for NIH and $436.2 million for NIAAA. While the FY 2009 Labor, HHS and Education Appropriations bill has been marked up in both the House and the Senate, no conference action has been scheduled at this time and is not anticipated until after the final Congressional action on the Stimulus Appropriation.

A summary of the FY 2009 Continuing Resolution (not adjusted for pro-rating) is reflected below (all dollars in thousands):



FY 2008

Actual Budget Authority

FY 2009

Full Year

Continuing Resolution

FY 2009



Extramural Research:







Grants and Contracts




Research Training (NRSA)




Intramural Research.




Research Management and Support




Total, NIAAA (including AIDS)




Percent increase over prior year




AIDS (not added)








Fiscal Year 2010


The FY 2010 budget process remains on hold. President Obama and Congress may need to resolve fiscal 2009 funding decisions before the fiscal 2010 budget can be completed. Federal law calls for the White House budget request by the first Monday in February preceding the start of a new fiscal year in October; however, at this time it is uncertain what the President’s Request for FY 2010 will be.

B. Director’s Activities

Ting-Kai Li, M.D., NIAAA Director since November 2002, retired from Federal service on October 31, 2008. NIAAA Deputy Director Kenneth R. Warren, Ph.D., became NIAAA Acting Director upon Dr. Li’s retirement.

NIAAA and NIH staff honored Dr. Li at a retirement reception on October 29. NIH acting director Raynard Kington, M.D., praised Dr. Li’s “committed leadership,” citing examples such as the institution of a rolling 5-year strategic planning process, the establishment of an extramural advisory board subcommittee, the appointment of an outstanding group of senior staff leaders, the championing of young investigators, and the creation of intra-Institute teams to focus on emerging cross-disciplinary issues in alcohol-related research.

A strong proponent of collaborative international research, Dr. Li spurred the establishment of research relationships between NIAAA and individuals at INSERM, France’s equivalent of the NIH. He promoted similar research relationships between NIAAA and national research agencies in the Republic of Korea, Taiwan, Japan, the People’s Republic of China, and Hungary.

Dr. Li bolstered the upper echelons of NIAAA leadership by hiring respected alcohol scientists to direct NIAAA divisions and as associate Institute directors. In 2004 he oversaw the relocation of administrative and extramural offices, and NIAAA intramural laboratories to newly-built quarters on Fishers Lane in Rockville, MD. The new buildings have been a welcome upgrade for NIAAA staff and have helped to improve communications and interactions across NIAAA intramural and extramural divisions.

Dr. Li played an important role in the NIH Roadmap for Medical Research, created by the NIH in 2003 to support cross-cutting, trans-NIH programs that fill fundamental knowledge and technology gaps, and encourage innovative, high-risk/high-reward approaches to complex biomedical problems. In 2004, Dr. Li was selected as co-chair of the Pathways to Discovery program, which supports research to advance our understanding of how the building blocks of the body – genes, proteins, metabolites – function and interact via complex systems to maintain health and respond to disease. Dr. Li played an instrumental role in crafting the Metabolomics Technology Development initiative which emerged from the Pathways to Discovery Program, one of the first Roadmap initiatives to be funded in 2005. Although Roadmap programs are not intended to target specific diseases and environmental stressors, such as alcohol, many of the Roadmap funded projects focus on alcohol, alcohol-related illness, and addiction.

Dr. Ting-Kai Li, Dr. Kenneth Warren, Dr. Howard Moss, and Peggy Murray participated in the fourth joint NIAAA/INSERM scientific symposium in Paris, France, on October 3, 2008. The result of an active collaboration between the U.S. and French biomedical research communities that began in 2005, the symposium included presentations and discussions of collaborative research studies in the areas of neuroimaging and neuropsychology, Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders, and alcohol’s effect on the developing brain. Dr. Warren presented on NIAAA’s strategic plan for alcohol research and gave an overview of the current state of FASD clinical and basic research. U.S. scientists included in the meeting were Dr. Edith Sullivan, Stanford University; Dr. Adolph Pfefferbaum, SRI International; Dr. Graeme Mason, Yale University School of Medicine; Dr. Edward Riley, San Diego State University; Dr. Dan Savage, University of New Mexico; and Dr. Elizabeth Sowell, University of California, Los Angeles.

Dr. Kenneth Warren traveled to Sweden in September to present a talk entitled "FASD: Current U.S. Strategic Priorities" at a conference organized by Dr. Ulf Eriksson of the University of Uppsala. The medical community in Sweden has recently recognized the importance of establishing a program to assess the extent of FAS and FASD, establish research priorities, and develop prevention and treatment strategies. To that end, Dr. Warren, along with NIAAA-supported extramural scientists Drs. Phil May, Gene Hoyme, Ed Riley, and Wendy Kalberg, met with Swedish medical and research officials to provide consultation on the Swedish plan to address FASD. Dr. Warren’s talk focused on challenges in FASD research including identification of the disorders, etiology, epigenetics, and importantly, translating findings from neurobehavioral studies to clinical and educational interventions.

Dr. Kenneth Warren and Peggy Murray participated in a meeting sponsored by the NIH Fogarty International Center on November 5th and 6th, 2008 entitled “Strengthening the Research Enterprise in Sub-Saharan Africa.” Dr. Warren gave a talk on NIAAA’s research investment in Africa and participated in discussions with scientists representing 27 African countries regarding a plan for sustainable collaborative research.

Dr. Kenneth Warren also participated in the following recent meetings:

  • American College of Neuropsychopharmacology Annual Meeting, Scottsdale, Arizona, December 7-11, 2008;

  • NIH Summit: The Science of Eliminating Health Disparities, Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center, National Harbor, Maryland, December 16-18, 2008;

  • Collaborative Initiative on Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders, Chapel Hill, North Carolina, January 5-8, 2009;

  • Vera Institute of Justice, “Vera’s Returning Heroes Project,” Washington, DC, January 28, 2009

C. NIAAA Staff and Organization

New Appointments

Robin I. Kawazoe, Associate Director for Administration/Executive Officer, NIAAA, recently began a half-time detail as Acting Deputy Director, Division of Program Coordination, Planning, and Strategic Initiatives (DPCPSI) in the NIH Office of the Director. DPCPSI incorporates all of the functions of the former Office of Portfolio Analysis and Strategic Initiatives and the OD Program Offices. Within DPCPSI a new program office, the Office of Strategic Coordination, will encompass the NIH Roadmap for Medical Research, Evaluation, Portfolio Analysis, Data Tools and Analysis, Public Health Burden, and the Research, Condition, and Disease Categorization project are also functions of DPCPSI. Dr. Lana Skirboll, Director of the NIH Office of Science Policy, is serving as the Acting Director of DPCPSI.

Vivian Faden, Ph.D., was named Acting Director of the NIAAA Office of Science Policy and Communications (OSPC), effective November 24, 2008. Dr. Faden had been the Deputy Director of the Division of Epidemiology and Prevention Research (DEPR) since 2003. Dr. Faden currently leads the NIAAA Underage Drinking Research Initiative (UDRI) and oversees the development of the Underage Drinking Research Portfolio. She served as one of NIAAA’s liaisons to the Office of the Surgeon General to develop and disseminate the Call to Action to Prevent and Reduce Underage Drinking. From 1999 to 2003, Dr. Faden served as Chief, Epidemiology Branch, in NIAAA’s Division of Biometry and Epidemiology, which she first joined in 1983 and where she served as a Psychologist, Epidemiologist and Health Scientist Administrator.

Abe Bautista, Ph.D., was selected as Director of the Office of Extramural Activity (OEA), effective January 18, 2009. Dr. Bautista came to NIAAA in 2006, as Chief of the Extramural Project Review Branch and in 2008 was named Acting Director of Office of Extramural Activities. He came to the NIH in 2002, as the Scientific Review Officer of the AIDS Immunology and Pathogenesis (AIP) and NeuroAIDS and End Organ Diseases (NAED) Study Sections of the NIH Center for Scientific Review. Before joining NIH, Dr. Bautista was a tenured Professor of Physiology at LSU-Health Sciences Center in New Orleans, LA, where he performed research on the role of macrophages and alcohol on the pathogenesis of immunodeficiency in HIV/SIV AIDS, sepsis, and liver injury. These studies were supported by several grants from NIAAA.  Dr. Bautista has served on the editorial board of Hepatology and on the Board of Reviewing Editors of Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research and has also published numerous scientific articles in peer reviewed journals and books.  Dr. Bautista received his Ph.D. in Medicine and Immunology from the University of Aberdeen, Scotland, UK, and did his post-doctoral training at East Carolina University School of Medicine.

Ellen Witt, Ph.D., was appointed Deputy Director of the Division of Neuroscience and Behavior (DNB). Dr. Witt joined NIAAA in 1989 where she served as a Health Scientist Administrator in the Division of Basic Research from 1989 – 2002, and in the Division of Neuroscience and Behavior from 2002- present. During her tenure, Dr .Witt managed a broad multidisciplinary neuroscience and behavioral portfolio, including animal and human research in the areas of behavioral pharmacology, sleep, biological risk markers for alcoholism, and cognitive and developmental neuroscience, and the combined effects of alcohol and HIV on the central nervous system. She took the lead role in initiating several areas of program development including: neurobiological mechanisms of adolescent drinking; alcohol, puberty, and sex differences in adolescent drinking; alcohol and sleep; application of imaging technologies to alcohol research; and alcohol and cognition. She has also served as NIAAA representative on several trans-NIH and Blueprint Committees including the Trans-NIH Sleep Coordinating Committee, the NIH Toolbox for Neurological and Behavioral Assessment, and the Neurodevelopment Workshop Project Team.

Mike Hilton, Ph.D., was named Acting Deputy Director of the Division of Epidemiology and Prevention Research (DEPR) in November. Dr. Hilton had been the Associate Director of DEPR since May 2006. As Acting Deputy Director, his main responsibility will be to assist Dr. Ralph Hingson, Director, DEPR, in all aspects of Division management. Dr. Hilton will continue to make portfolio and review coverage assignments, and, pending Dr. Hingson’s approval, will manage the Division's budgets for training, equipment, and travel. He will also continue to manage the Alcohol Policy Information Service contract and the Division's Centers and T32 training programs.

Amy Matush has been selected as the Chief, Ethics and Management Analysis Branch (EMAB), Office of Resource Management (ORM), NIAAA. Ms. Matush joined NIAAA in August 2000 as a Presidential Management Intern (PMI). During her two years as a PMI she spent several months working with staff for the Assistant Secretary for Management and Budget, DHHS, as well as 6 months as a legislative assistant for Senator Kent Conrad on Capitol Hill. Prior to joining ORM in 2003, she worked on NIAAA’s College Drinking Prevention Campaign. As a Management Analyst in ORM, she has been responsible for A-76, Performance Management, Training, Awards, and Telework policy. As the EMAB Chief, Ms. Matush will continue to serve as one of NIAAA’s Ethics Coordinators in addition to assuming additional responsibilities for Risk Management and other management analytic functions.

Aaron White, Ph.D., joined NIAAA in November as a Health Scientist Administrator in DEPR. Dr. White earned his Ph.D. in Psychology (Biological) from Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, in 1999. He had been an Assistant Research Professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at the Duke University Medical Center and the Department of Psychology at Duke University. Dr. White’s research interests include adolescent psychological and brain development; college drinking and the effects of alcohol on psychological processes, particularly learning and memory (e.g. blackouts), and the brain mechanisms underlying these effects; and adolescent development and the risks of alcohol/other drug abuse during this time period.

Hae Kook Lee, Ph.D., joined NIAAA in December as a Guest Researcher in DEPR. Dr. Lee earned his Ph.D. in Psychiatry from The Catholic University of Korea in 2004. He has been an Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at Uijeongbu St. Mary’s Hospital, The Catholic University of Korea, and the Director of the Dobong-Gu Municipal Community Mental Health Center. Dr. Lee’s research interests include clinical and social determinants of alcoholism, alcohol dependence and comorbid depressive disorders, and alcohol treatment programs.

Changhai Cui, Ph.D., joined NIAAA as a Program Director in DNB in September 2008. Dr. Cui received her M.S. in biophysics from Peking University, China, and Ph.D. in biochemistry from University of Wisconsin-Madison. She had her first postdoctoral training on molecular neuroscience in Dr. Steve Heinemann’s laboratory at the Salk Institute, where she studied neuronal nicotinic receptors using gene knockout approach. Following that, she had her second postdoctoral training on structural and functional study of glutamate receptors in Dr. Mark Mayer’s laboratory, NICHD/NIH. In 2002, she joined Blanchette Rockefeller Neurosciences Institute as an assistant professor and was promoted to associate professor before joining NIAAA. Her research focused on modulations of glutamate receptors and signaling pathways in Alzheimer’s disease. Dr. Cui’s scientific expertise encompasses several areas of neurotransmitter systems, particularly on combining molecular biology, pharmacology, and biophysics approach to study functional modulations of neurotransmitter systems in normal and disease conditions.

Andras Orosz, Ph.D., joined the Division of Metabolism and Health Effects as a Program Director in November 2008. He obtained his Ph.D. degree from the Attila Jozsef University in Szeged, Hungary and received postdoctoral training at the Laboratory of Biochemistry, NCI, studying the regulation of heat shock factor in eukaryotic stress response. Subsequently he was a research fellow at the Laboratory of Metabolism, NCI, where he examined the role of basic leucine zipper transcription factors in lipoatrophic diabetes, carcinogenesis, and addiction. In 2005 he joined the Cardiology Division at the University of Utah Health Sciences Center in Salt Lake City. His research at Utah focused on elucidating the cardioprotective functions of Heat Shock Proteins and their master regulator Heat Shock Factor 1 against oxido-reductive stress and mitochondrial damage using conditional knockout and transgenic mouse models in combination with molecular genetic, biochemical, and genomic approaches. His over 20 papers have been published in prominent journals including Cell, Molecular Cell, Molecular Cell Biology, Nature Structural Biology, Cancer Research, Nucleic Acid Research, and European Journal of Biochemistry. In addition, Dr. Orosz has been the recipient of the Young Innovator Award, the Soros and International Biochemistry Travel Awards, and the Fogarty International Postdoctoral Fellowship Award. During his tenure at the University of Utah he had been the co-investigator of several research grants from different granting agencies including the National Institutes of Health, American Heart Association, and the United States Department of Veterans Affairs.

Dr. Dale Hereld of the Division of Metabolism and Health Effects became NIAAA's representative to the Interagency Coordinating Committee on Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (ICCFAS) in October 2008.

Several new Administrative Officers have recently joined the Administrative Services Branch: Carolyn Bell, Lakeasha Mingo, and Rita Bauguess come to NIAAA from NIAID. Yireiza Williams has moved to the Administrative Services Branch from the NIAAA Laboratory of Neurogenetics.


Dr. Markus Heilig, NIAAA Clinical Director and Chief of the Laboratory of Clinical and Translational Studies, received the 2008 Dan Anderson Research Award for his identification of a novel neurotransmitter system involved in craving for alcohol. Sponsored by the Butler Center for Research at Hazelden, the award honors a single published article by a researcher who has advanced the scientific knowledge of addiction recovery. Dr. Heilig earned the award for his article, “Neurokinin 1 receptor antagonism as a possible therapy for alcoholism,” published in Science (Vol. 319, pages 1536-1539). The study identified a specific brain receptor, the neurokinin 1 receptor (NK1R), involved in craving and stress responses. Medication targeting this receptor blocked craving for alcohol and improved overall well-being among a group of recently detoxified individuals with alcohol dependence.

D. Transdisciplinary Research Activities

In FY2009, NIAAA will continue its participation in the Inter-Agency Collaborative Research in Computational Neuroscience (CRCNS) program, a joint initiative between four Scientific Directorates of the National Science Foundation (NSF) and six Institutes of the National Institutes of Health. The program brings together neuroscience researchers with computer scientists and biomedical engineers to work jointly on problems related to understanding the central nervous system in health and disease. The NSF conducts the grant reviews and both agencies then decide on which grant applications they will consider for funding. In FY2008, NIAAA funded one grant application in this initiative: “CRCNS: Spatial and Temporal Aspects of cAMP/PKA Signaling Underlying Information Processing in Neurons.” Kim Blackwell, George Mason University and Edwin Abel, University of Pennsylvania, are the Principal Investigators.

E. Scientific Meetings

American Academy of Addiction Psychiatry (AAAP) Annual Meeting and Symposium

The AAAP’s 19th annual meeting took place in Boca Raton, Florida, from December 3-6, 2008. Dr. Howard Moss presented “Parsing the Heterogeneity of Alcoholism,” in which he discussed how NESARC data have identified 5 subtypes of alcohol-dependent drinkers and has shed light on recovery, remission, and treatment seeking. Dr. Mark Willenbring moderated an AAAP discussion on ethics and conflicts of interest.

Transdisciplinary Approaches to Mechanisms of Behavior Change (MOBC) in Alcohol: Connecting Basic Science Discoveries to Behavior Change Research

Dr. Mark Willenbring gave an introduction/overview presentation and moderated a session on “Facilitating Cross-Disciplinary MOBC Research,” at this NIAAA-supported conference held at Columbia University in New York City on October 6-7, 2008. Other NIAAA attendees included Drs. Bob Huebner, Ellen Witt, and Angela Martinelli. The conference focused on emerging cross-disciplinary knowledge about reward systems and emotional regulation in the domains of cognitive science, brain imaging, neurophysiology, and genetics, and how this knowledge could inform alcohol treatment research. A broad set of themes were presented regarding how scientists from basic and clinical disciplines can move across scale to inform each other's work as well as the challenges scientists and funding agencies face in mounting multi-disciplinary collaborations.

International Society of Addiction Medicine (ISAM)

Dr. Mark Willenbring chaired a presentation on “Integrating Alcohol Services into Primary Care: New Thoughts on an Old Problem.” One of the largest international conferences in addiction medicine, ISAM took place November 15–22, 2008 in Cape Town, South Africa.

National Hispanic Science Network on Substance Abuse

NIAAA co-sponsored this annual meeting in Bethesda, Maryland on October 1-3, 2008. Dr. Judith Arroyo moderated a session on “Hispanic Alcohol Epidemiology.” Drs. Deborah Dawson, Sharon Smith, and Bridget Grant presented on the “Prevalence, Incidence, Comorbidity, and Clinical Presentation of Alcohol Use Disorders among Hispanics: Findings from NESARC.” Dr. Raul Caetano and colleagues from the University of Texas School of Public Health presented early results from the NIAAA sponsored study, “Hispanic Americans Baseline Alcohol Survey (HABLAS): Drinking and Related Problems among Hispanic National Groups.” NIAAA also sponsored travel scholarships for four young investigators interested in alcohol research to attend the meeting.

Office of Behavioral and Social Science Research (OBSSR) Retreat

On November 12, 2008, Drs. Judith Arroyo, Marcia Scott, and Mark Willenbring served as moderators for breakout sessions on Behavioral and Social Sciences in a Biomedical World at the OBSSR retreat for NIH staff on the topic of Behavioral and Social Sciences at NIH: Advancing the Science Together.

NIH Summit: The Science of Eliminating Health Disparities

Held at the Gaylord Center at the National Harbor in Washington, D.C., on December 16-18, 2008, this meeting was the culmination of several years of work on the steering committee on the part of NIAAA staff members Dr. Ric Brown, Dr. Judith Arroyo, and Ms. Robin Kawazoe. Numerous NIAAA-funded researchers were featured speakers. (See section G below for additional information about the NIAAA Exhibit and other information materials offered at this meeting.)

NIAAA Alcohol Research Center Directors’ Meeting

Hosted by the University of Connecticut from October 15-17, 2008, the meeting was attended by several NIAAA senior staff.

Improving Adolescent Health and Well-being--Training the Next Generation of Physician Scientists in Transdisciplinary Research

Dr. Robert Freeman presented a talk, "Cross Disciplinary Training and Adolescent Health” at a meeting sponsored by the William T. Grant Foundation in New York, New York, on November 18, 2008.

American Public Health Association (APHA) Annual Meeting

Dr. Robert Freeman presented on the "Prevalence and Correlates of Sexual Concurrency among Urban Crack-Using Men” at a roundtable presentation at the 136th APHA Annual Meeting in San Diego, California, on October 28, 2008.

Adolescent Development Following Prenatal Drug Exposure: Research Progress, Challenges, and Opportunities

Dr. Ellen Witt collaborated with NIDA on this workshop held November 20-21, 2008 in Bethesda, MD. This meeting brought together the Principal Investigators of longitudinal prenatal drug exposure cohort studies to discuss current research issues with each other and with adolescent development researchers studying brain development, cognitive development, genetics, mental health, and vulnerability to drug use. NIAAA grantees Nancy Day, Elizabeth Sowell, and Matt McGue presented data on findings from their own research on Fetal Alcohol Syndrome /Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder related to genetic, cognitive, and brain imaging effects of fetal alcohol exposure.

Society for Leukocyte Biology Annual Meeting

NIAAA co-sponsored a satellite symposium on “Alcohol, Leukocytes, and Host Defense” on November 9, 2008, in Denver, CO. Co-organizers for the session were Dr. M. Katherine Jung of NIAAA, and Dr. Elizabeth Kovacs of Loyola University Medical Center, Maywood, IL.

Southern California Center for ALPD and Cirrhosis

Dr. Sam Zakhari presented on “Opportunities of Funding for Young Investigators,” at the Center’s 10th anniversary celebration on December 5, 2008.

10th National Conference on Drug Dependence

Dr. Zakhari presented on “Alcohol, HIV, HCV and Liver Damage” at this conference, held October 22-25, 2008, in Xi’an City, China.

Carolina’s Conference on Addiction and Recovery

Dr. Mark Willenbring presented “Alcoholism Isn’t What It Used To Be,” a new approach to the field of research and practice of addiction psychiatry with a focus on alcoholism, at this major conference for addiction and recovery research which took place October 30 to November 2, 2008 at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.

Addiction Institute Grand Rounds

Dr. Mark Willenbring presented “Alcoholism Isn't What It Used to Be: New Guidance for Clinicians,” at this meeting on November 26, 2008 in New York City.

National Institute on Drug Abuse’s (NIDA) Researchers and Scholars Joint Workgroup Meeting Dr. Judith Arroyo was an invited participant at this meeting, held September 29-30, 2008, in Bethesda, MD. Members of the African American, Asian - American/Pacific – Islander, Native American/Alaska - Native, and National Hispanic Science Network workgroups discussed progress on initiatives on priority areas such as mentoring and training junior scientists and early/new investigators of color pursuing research careers in the field of substance abuse and addiction .

Clinical Trail Network (CTN) American Indian/Alaska Native Research Workshop

Dr. Judith Arroyo was an invited participant in this NIDA-sponsored meeting on October 21-22, 2008, which included a workshop on Community-Based Participatory Research in Indian Country. NIAAA-funded investigator Alison Boyd-Ball presented her work on family intervention of youth AOD in Indian communities as an example of how to address community concerns about randomization by employing a multiple baseline design.

F. NIAAA Research Programs


The following items represent examples of the breadth and quality of research supported by NIAAA.

Are lifetime abstainers the best control group in alcohol epidemiology? Researchers investigated the validity and stability of self-reported lifetime abstention from alcohol. Using data derived from the National Alcohol Survey, a national probability survey of US households conducted in 1984, and its 2 follow-up surveys conducted in 1990 and 1992, they found that more than half of those who reported never having a drink of any alcoholic beverage in the 1992 survey had reported drinking in previous surveys. These results suggest that using reported lifetime abstainers as a sole comparison group in alcohol studies is problematic. The researchers recommend including irregular lifetime light drinkers with lifetime abstainers as comparison groups for future epidemiologic studies. (Rehm J, Irving H, Ye Y, Kerr WC, Bond J, Greenfield TK., 2008. Am J Epi 168(8):866-71)

Drinking alcohol reduces AIDS medication adherence. Researchers explored how alcohol use and other factors affect adherence to HIV medication regimens among a study population of HIV-infected men and women with alcohol problems. On days in which study participants drank, they had almost 9 times higher odds of medication nonadherence, with each drink increasing the odds by 20%. Individuals with strong beliefs about the importance of strict medication adherence were significantly more affected by each dose of alcohol, while individuals with more alcohol use and problems were less affected by each drink. Regimen complexity increased the effects of having one or more drinks. The findings highlight the importance of promoting medication adherence among alcohol-using adults, especially among patients with complex regimens or with high confidence and positive attitudes toward HIV medication. (Parsons JT, Rosof E, Mustanski B., 2008. Health Psychol. 27(5):628-37.)

Adjusting alcohol quantity for mean consumption and intoxication threshold improves prediction of nonadherence in HIV patients and HIV-negative controls.

Researchers investigated whether considering an individual's usual drinking quantity or threshold for alcohol-induced cognitive impairment improves the prediction of nonadherence with prescribed medications. They reconstructed 30-day retrospective drinking histories and 30-day medication adherence histories among HIV patients and HIV-negative controls in the Veterans Aging Cohort Study. The researchers categorized daily alcohol consumption by using quantity alone, quantity after adjustment for the individual's mean daily alcohol consumption, and self-reported level of impairment corresponding to each quantity. The individualized methods showed greater discrimination of nonadherence risk compared to the measure based on quantity alone and also detected greater numbers of days with clinically significant nonadherence associated with alcohol. Tailoring screening questions to an individual's usual level of alcohol consumption or threshold for impairment improves the ability to predict alcohol-associated medication nonadherence. (Braithwaite RS, et al., 2008. Alcohol Clin Exp Res. 32(9):1645-51.)

Glutamate transporters regulate synaptic plasticity. Many of the mechanisms by which various voltage-gated channels regulate neuronal excitability and brain function remain unknown. Researchers investigated the regulatory mechanisms of one such channel -- the delayed-rectifier voltage-dependent potassium channel called Kv2.1. Previous experiments showed that extrasynaptic NMDA receptors alter Kv2.1 channels, but not NMDA receptors found within the synapse. Other studies showed that glutamate transporters found on glial cells control the extrasynaptic NMDA receptors, which in part modulates function of the Kv2.1 channels and neuronal excitability. The current study reports a mechanism by which glia alters neuronal plasticity, and that numerous portions of this mechanism may be targets for ethanol to exert its effects on the brain. Thus, these findings show a new mechanism by which alcohol may modulate brain function, and open a new area for understanding alcohol’s effects on the brain, especially after chronic alcohol use, and why the brain changes during alcohol withdrawal.

(Mulholland P., Carpenter-Hyland E.P., et al., 2008 J Neuroscience, 28:8801-9.)

Involvement of the limbic basal ganglia in ethanol withdrawal in mice is influenced by a chromosome 4 locus. Investigators sought to reveal the circuitry underlying a previously identified quantitative trait locus on chromosome 4 known as Alcw2 that substantially diminishes ethanol withdrawal in mice. They compared the pattern of neuronal activation associated with ethanol withdrawal between Alcw2 congenic mice and control strains. They found that acute ethanol withdrawal activated structures in the limbic basal ganglia circuit. However, Alcw2 congenic mice demonstrated significantly less neuronal activity associated with ethanol withdrawal than control mice in six regions within this circuit. In a subsequent experiment, bilateral lesions of basal ganglia circuitry attenuated withdrawal severity after acute and repeated ethanol exposures. The results suggest that the Alcw2 QTL impacts ethanol withdrawal via basal ganglia circuitry associated with limbic function, and are the first analyses to elucidate circuitry by which a confirmed addiction-relevant QTL influences behavior. (Chen G, et al., 2008 J Neuroscience, 28(39):9840-9)

In Vivo evidence for alcohol-induced neurochemical changes in rat brain without protracted withdrawal, pronounced thiamine deficiency, or severe liver damage.

Investigators used state-of-the-art experimental methods to show that alcohol can alter neurochemistry in the rat brain and that these neurochemical alterations cannot be attributed to confounding factors such as thiamine deficiency, severe liver damage, or a state of protracted withdrawal. Their methods involved magnetic resonance spectroscopy measurements over repeated time points, along with controlled alcohol exposure in the vapor chamber. The ability to perform such measurements provides for greatly increased experimental precision to address important questions about the brain effects of alcohol abuse. (Zahr NA, Mayer D, et al., Neuropsychopharmacology, advance online publication August 13, 2008)

Protein kinase C∂ regulates ethanol intoxication and enhancement of GABA-stimulated tonic current. Because previous studies have shown that acute and chronic ethanol exposure alters protein kinase C∂ (PKC∂) distribution and availability, in this study researchers examined whether PKC∂ regulates behavioral responses to ethanol. They found that PKC∂ knockout mice exhibited reduced intoxication with ethanol and reduced ataxia with other negative modulators of GABA-A receptors. These effects were correlated with the pharmacological sensitivity and anatomical distribution of ∂-subunit containing GABA-A receptors. These receptors are responsible for tonic inhibitory currents in several key brain regions, and a variety of studies have shown the receptors to be particularly sensitive to ethanol modulation. Thus, PKC∂ enhances ethanol intoxication partly through regulation of GABA(A) receptors that contain ∂ subunits and mediate tonic inhibitory currents. PKC∂ contributes to a high level of behavioral response to ethanol, which is negatively correlated with risk for developing an alcohol use disorder in humans. (Choi, D.S., et al., 2008. J Neuroscience. 28(46),11890-9)

Typography established by scheduled induction predicts chronic heavy drinking in a monkey model of ethanol self-administration. Researchers used nonhuman primates to identify the patterns of alcohol consumption during initial exposure to alcohol that would predict subsequent heavy drinking. They found that animals that gulped the equivalent of six drinks within a single bout during initial exposure to alcohol subsequently became heavy drinkers when given free access to alcohol and consumed the equivalent of sixteen to twenty drinks per day. This trait will permit the identification of risk factors for heavy drinking and when adapted to the clinical situation allow early detection of those individuals with increased vulnerability for alcohol dependence. (Grant KA, et al., 2008. Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research. 32: 1824 -1838)

Intermittent hypoxia conditioning prevents behavioral deficit and brain oxidative stress in ethanol-withdrawn rats. Investigators found that intermittent periods of reduced oxygen lessened brain oxidative stress and behavioral deficits in rats exposed to chronic ethanol and then withdrawal. These observations are consistent with intermittent hypoxia inducing oxidative stress protective pathways that then ameliorated the consequences of ethanol withdrawal. This finding emphasizes the importance of oxidative stress in the behavioral and metabolic consequence of withdrawal and suggests that antioxidant medications might help reduce the severity and adverse effects of ethanol withdrawal. (Jung ME, et al., 2008. J Applied Physiolology. 105:510-7)

Intensive case management improves abstinence and employment outcomes for substance-dependent women receiving temporary assistance.

Among substance-dependent women receiving Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), investigators compared abstinence rates and employment outcomes for those who entered intensive case management (ICM) and those assigned to a screen-and-refer program (i.e., usual care). Abstinence rates were higher for the ICM group than for the usual care group through 24 months of follow-up. Additionally, women in the ICM group were more likely to be employed full time than women in the usual care group. Thus, ICM appears to be a promising intervention for managing substance dependence among women receiving TANF and for improving employment rates among this vulnerable population. (Morgenstern J, et al., 2008. Am J Public Health. [Epub ahead of print].)

Effects of alcoholism typology on response to naltrexone in the COMBINE study.

Researchers investigated whether subgroups of alcohol-dependent patients -- in particular, the A versus B and the Early Onset versus Late Onset typologies -- responded differently to naltrexone versus placebo in the NIAAA COMBINE study. Relative to Type A alcoholics, Type B alcoholics are characterized by greater severity, earlier onset, stronger family history, more childhood risk factors, and greater frequency of comorbid psychiatric and substance use disorders. Early Onset was defined as alcohol dependence beginning before age 25. The study sample was limited to participants receiving naltrexone alone or placebo, either with medical management (MM) alone or with MM plus the Combined Behavioral Intervention (CBI). Among those receiving MM without CBI, Type A alcoholics had better drinking outcomes with naltrexone than placebo, whereas medication condition did not influence outcomes significantly in the Type Bs. Age of onset was not significantly related to outcome. Thus, the beneficial effects of naltrexone were limited to Type A alcoholics receiving treatment in a MM model.

(Bogenschutz MP, Tonigan JS, Pettinati HM., 2009. Alcohol Clin Exp Res. 33(1):10-8.)

Cost and cost-effectiveness of the COMBINE study in alcohol-dependent patients.

Investigators evaluated the costs and cost-effectiveness of the COMBINE Study interventions after 16 weeks of treatment among 1,383 participants at 11 U.S. clinical sites. On the basis of the mean values of cost and effectiveness, three interventions were found to be cost-effective options relative to the other interventions for all three outcomes: medical management (MM) with placebo ($409 per patient), MM plus naltrexone therapy ($671 per patient), and MM plus combined naltrexone and acamprosate therapy ($1003 per patient). Focusing only on effectiveness, MM-naltrexone-acamprosate therapy was not significantly better than MM-naltrexone therapy. However, considering cost and cost-effectiveness, MM-naltrexone-acamprosate therapy may be a better choice, depending on whether the cost of the incremental increase in effectiveness is justified by the decision maker. (Zarkin GA, et al., 2008. Arch Gen Psychiatry. 65(10):1214-21)

GABRG1 and GABRA2 independently predict alcoholism in two populations

A cluster of genes encoding receptors for gamma-aminobutyric acid type A (GABAA) have been localized to chromosome 4 and are expressed predominantly in the brain reward circuitry. Linkage scans have implicated the chromosome 4 cluster of GABAA receptor genes in alcoholism. One GABAA receptor gene variant in particular -- GABRA2 -- has been robustly associated with alcohol use disorders (AUD), although no functional locus has been identified. In the current study, researchers conducted extensive genotyping and linkage analyses among alcoholic and non-alcoholic individuals from Finnish and Plains Indian population samples to better define the potential roles that GABRA2 and an adjacent gene known as GABRG1 might play in the risk for alcohol problems. Their results suggest that there are likely to be independent, complex contributions from both GABRG1 and GABRA2 to alcoholism vulnerability.

(Enoch, MA, et al., 2008. Neuropsychopharmacology advance online publication, 24 September 2008.)

Zinc supplementation enhances liver regeneration in mice subjected to long-term ethanol administration.

Alcoholic liver disease is associated with sustained liver damage and impaired regeneration, as well as significant zinc deficiency.  In this study, NIAAA researchers examined whether dietary zinc supplementation could improve liver regeneration in a mouse model of alcoholic liver disease.  They found that zinc supplementation enhanced liver regeneration at least in part by increasing the expression of liver cell proliferation-related proteins, suggesting that dietary zinc supplementation may have beneficial effects in alcoholic liver disease. (Kang X, Song Z, McClain CJ, Kang YJ, Zhou Z. Am J Pathol. 2008; 172(4):916-925)

Suppression of lipopolysaccharide-stimulated tumor necrosis factor-alpha production by adiponectin.

Adiponectin is a hormone that facilitates the oxidation of fat in the liver. It also has potent anti-inflammatory properties. For example, adiponectin decreases the ability of mature macrophages to respond to activation, suppressing phagocytic activity, as well as lipopolysaccharide (LPS)-stimulated cytokine production in macrophages. To better understand adiponectin’s role in these events, researchers investigated the impact of 18-hour treatment of macrophages with adiponectin on the regulation of LPS-stimulated TNF- expression. They demonstrated that adiponectin has a complex, time-dependent impact on the regulation of TNF- expression in macrophages. The regulation of TNF- expression, both at the level of TNF- transcription and mRNA stability, has been implicated in the pathophysiology of a number of chronic inflammatory diseases including chronic ethanol-induced liver injury. (Park PH, Huang H, McMullen MR, Mandal P, Sun L, Nagy LE. J Biol Chem. 2008; 283(40):26850-8.)

Activation of aldehyde dehydrogenase-2 reduces ischemic damage to the heart.

There is substantial interest in the development of drugs that limit the extent of ischemia-induced cardiac damage caused by myocardial infarction or by certain surgical procedures. In experiments conducted with rodents, researchers demonstrated that protection against ischemic cardiomyopathy by alcohol is due to the protein kinase C-epsilon (PKC-epsilon)-mediated activation of mitochondrial aldehyde dehydrogenase 2 (ALDH2). A screen for small-molecule activators of ALDH2 led to the identification of Alda-1, which was shown to diminish ischemic damage in animal hearts, and block the in vitro inactivation of ALDH2. Thus, ALDH2 activators like Alda-1 might be useful in preventing ischemia-induced heart damage. (Chen CH, Budas GR, Churchill EN, Disatnik MH, Hurley TD, Mochly-Rosen D Science. 2008; 321: 1493-5.)

Ethanol inhibits neuronal differentiation by disrupting activity-dependent neuroprotective protein signaling.

The mechanisms by which ethanol damages the developing and adult central nervous system (CNS) remain unclear. Activity-dependent neuroprotective protein (ADNP) is a glial protein that protects the CNS against a wide array of insults and is critical for CNS development. NAPVSIPQ (NAP) is a potent neuroprotective fragment of ADNP. In this study, researchers defined a molecular pathway, involving Fyn kinase and the scaffold protein Cas, by which NAP promotes cerebellar neuronal axon outgrowth, a critical process in early brain development. They also demonstrated that ethanol concentrations attainable by moderate drinking block this axon outgrowth by preventing activation of the Fyn-Cas pathway, thus defining a pathogenic mechanism that may account for ethanol's neurotoxicity and teratogenicity in exposed fetuses. (Chen S, Charness ME Proc Natl Acad Sci USA. 2008; 105: 19962-7.)

Adenine nucleotide changes in the remnant liver: An early signal for regeneration after partial hepatectomy.

Liver regeneration after partial removal of the liver (hepatectomy) is orchestrated by multiple signals from cytokines and growth factors. Researchers investigated whether increased energy demand on the remnant liver after partial hepatectomy contributes to regenerative signals. Changes in the tissue's energy state were determined from adenine nucleotide levels. They found that the major changes in the functional state of the remnant liver occur within seconds of hepatectomy, a time frame that until now was almost entirely unexplored. The characteristics of the adenine nucleotide changes observed in this early response phase indicate that energy demand only partially accounts for these effects and suggest that a loss of ATP occurs through a transient opening of nonspecific channels in hepatocyte plasma membranes. These findings strongly suggest that the release of ATP through this mechanism generates autocrine or paracrine stress signals to the remnant liver that contribute to the priming phase during the onset of regeneration. (Crumm S, Cofan M, Juskeviciute E, Hoek JB. Hepatology. 2008; 48:898-908.)

Toll-like receptors and the development of liver disease.

A “two-hit” hypothesis of liver injury proposes that sensitization of liver by a challenge that produces inflammation occurs before a separate insult that leads to liver damage. Activation of cellular pathogen-sensing receptors leads to inflammation. NIAAA-funded researchers have recently advanced our understanding of the roles of toll-like (TLR) receptors and their interacting molecules in the development of liver disease. Using a series of knock-out mice to dissect the mechanisms, researchers tested a model in which sensitization by bacterial challenge or challenge by TLR2 and TLR9 ligands was followed by exposure to lipopolysaccharide. The results showed that recruitment of inflammatory cells to the liver required the presence of the TLR adaptor molecule MyD88 in bone-marrow derived cells, but not in parenchymal cells. In another study, the relative importance of TLR 4, TLR2, and MyD88 in the development of alcoholic liver disease was tested in individual knock-out mouse strains. Based on the development of liver injury after prolonged alcohol feeding, neither TLR2 nor MyD88 were essential for development of alcoholic liver disease or for enhancement of NF-kappa-B-induced pro-inflammatory cytokines expression. In contrast, TLR4 was essential for both NF-kappa-B activation and for subsequent alcoholic liver disease. Thus, TLR4 activation of alcoholic liver disease occurs through a MyD88-independent pathway. (Hritz I, Velayudham A, Dolganiuc A, Kodys K, Mandrekar P, Kurt-Jones E and Szabo G. Hepatology. 2008; 48(4): 1342-1347. And, Hritz I, Mandrekar P, Velayudham A, Catalano D, Kodys K, Kurt-Jones E and Szabo G Hepatology. 2008; 48(4):1224-1231)

Publications by Extramural Staff

Hingson, R., Zha, W. Changes in and Predictors of Driving After Drug Use and Involvement in Traffic Crashes Because of Drugs, 1992-2005. In Drugs, Driving, and Traffic Safety. Verster, J.C., Pandi-Perumal, S.R., Ramaekers, J.G., de Grier, J.J. (Eds.). Berlin, Germany: Birkhauser Verlag AG, 2009.

Hingson, R., Edwards, E., Heeren, T., Rosenbloom, D. Age of Drinking Onset and Injuries, Motor Vehicle Crashes, and Physical Fights After Drinking and When Not Drinking. Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research (in press).

Hingson, R. The Legal Drinking Age and Underage Drinking in the United States. Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine (in press).

Hingson, R., Zha, W. Age of Drinking Onset, Alcohol Use Disorders, Frequent Heavy Drinking, and Unintentionally Injuring Oneself and Others After Drinking. Pediatrics (in press).

Hingson, R., Zha, W., Weitzman, E. Magnitude of and Trends in Alcohol-Related Mortality and Morbidity among U.S. College Students Age 18-24, 1998-2005. Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs (in press).

Chassin, L., Collins, R. L., Ritter, J., Shirley, M.C., Zvolensky, M. J., & Kashdan, T. B. Vulnerability to Substance Use Disorders Across the Lifespan.  In R. E. Ingram, & J. M. Price (Eds.), Vulnerability to Psychopathology (2nd Ed).  NY: Guilford. (in press).

Breslow, R.A., Rimer, B.K., Baron, R.C., et al. Introducing the Community Guide's Reviews of Evidence on Interventions to Increase Screening for Breast, Cervical, and Colorectal Cancers. American Journal of Preventive Medicine. 2008 Jul;35(1 Suppl):S14-20.

Baron, R.C., Rimer, B.K., Breslow, R.A., et al. Client-Directed Interventions to Increase Community Demand for Breast, Cervical, and Colorectal Cancer Screening: a Systematic Review. American Journal of Preventive Medicine. 2008 Jul;35(1 Suppl):S34-55.

G. Multi-Media Products from NIAAA

Older Adults and Alcohol: You Can Get Help NIAAA partnered with the National Institute on Aging (NIA) to develop a low literacy booklet on alcohol and older people. The easy-to-read booklet provides facts about aging; information on what to do if you have a problem; frequently asked questions and answers; information for family, friends, and caregivers; and resources for additional information. Both NIA and NIAAA will promote the booklet to its respective constituencies.

Alcohol Research & Health An issue of Alcohol Research & Health “Neuroscience – Pathways to Alcohol Dependence: Part I – Overview of the Neurobiology of Dependence” was printed and distributed at the annual Society for Neuroscience conference in November. Drs. Edith Sullivan and Antonio Noronha were the scientific review editors for this issue. Work continues on Part II.

Rethinking Drinking Publication and Web Site. The 16-page booklet Rethinking Drinking and a companion Web site are nearing completion and slated for release in mid-to-late February. Both the booklet and the Web site encourage interactivity with questions, prompts, and worksheets. The online Rethinking Drinking includes the following interactive features:

  • a drinking pattern “checkup” that provides tailored norms perception correction based on NESARC data

  • worksheets for weighing pros and cons, making a change plan, and selecting strategies for cutting down or quitting (which users can email to themselves)

  • modules with a cognitive-behavioral therapy approach and “homework” to help people build drink refusal skills and manage urges to drink (derived from the COMBINE Monograph Volume I: Combined Behavioral Intervention Manual)

  • calculators for estimating alcohol calories and spending, and the alcohol content of cocktails

Both the booklet and Web site have been developed with input not only from NIAAA program staff but also from our target audience of at-risk drinkers. The booklet went through three rounds of focus testing with a total of 70 at-risk drinkers in two U.S. cities. The Web site was refined through a series of seven 90-minute usability tests. For each product, revisions were made following each test session and evaluated during the next session. As a final check, a “beta test” for the Web site will be conducted with NIAAA staff members in early February, before it is sent to DHHS for review.

Alcohol: A Women’s Health Issue This booklet has been updated to include new information and statistics. The booklet, available in English and Spanish, is also available full text on the NIAAA Web site.

New NIAAA Exhibit An exhibit on minority health and health disparities was developed for the “NIH Summit: The Science of Eliminating Health Disparities” which was held at the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center, at National Harbor, Maryland on December 16-18, 2008. In addition, Communications and Public Liaison Branch staff along with Dr. Judith Arroyo from the Division of Epidemiology and Prevention Research (DEPR), worked together to produce 16 handouts that showcased several NIAAA health disparities programs and grants. These handouts will soon be available full text on the NIAAA Web site. During the Summit’s opening ceremonies, several institute directors, including Dr. Li, were featured in videotapes about health disparities research at their respective institutes.

Underage and College Drinking: Key Facts and Stats The Office of Science Policy and Communications (OSPC) and DEPR staff developed this Web-based information source which includes five subsections: Statistical Snapshot of Underage Drinking, Statistical Snapshot of College Drinking, Facts About Alcohol and Adolescent Health and two previously developed resources on underage and college drinking and the minimum legal drinking age.

National Alcohol Screening Day (NASD) Print files for eight NIAAA publications were sent to NASD for reprinting and distributing to NASD sites across the country.

NIAAA Newsletter In January, CPLB issued the Winter 2009 edition of the NIAAA Newsletter. This issue featured stories about Dr. Li’s retirement, Dr. Warren’s appointment as acting director, recent changes regarding electronic grant submissions, recent funding opportunities in neuroscience and glial cell research, a Capitol Hill briefing on treatment for alcohol use disorders, an update on the Alcohol Policy Information System (APIS), new staff appointments and awards, new publications, and upcoming events.

H. Outreach

NIAAA Hosts Second Presentation in VideoConference Series Titled “Adolescent Development and Alcohol Use,” the free December 9 seminar featured a presentation by Dr. Vivian Faden, Acting Director of the Office of Science Policy and Communications (OSPC), and Dr. Patricia Powell, Chief of the OSPC Science Policy Branch. The webcast covered a wide range of issues related to adolescence and alcohol and outlined the “state of the science” and how this information can be used by educators, counselors, community leaders, and parents. Almost 300 participants logged on to view the presentation and more than 100 joined the question and answer session that followed.

NIAAA’s Electronic Promotion of The Cool Spot The Communications and Public Liaison Branch (CPLB) conducted a pilot project to evaluate the potential of web-based banner advertising. Banner ads promoting NIAAA’s The Cool Spot website were created for parents and teachers. With input from educators and parents, the ads were placed on a number of websites frequented by each group. These “clickable” ads offered direct links to the website, which facilitated the evaluation. The ads were judged, in part, according to the web traffic they generated. Overall, traffic to The Cool Spot increased during the pilot period, particularly to the Parents and Teachers section of the site, to which one of ads was linked directly. The average daily number of hits to the site for the 10 days following the release of the banner ads was 96,000, compared to 70,900 for the ten days prior, an increase of more than 25,000 hits per day.  During the week following the launch, the highest single day “hit” total for the entire 3 month period was reached, with 209,000 hits. The Teacher and Volunteer Corner, which was directly linked to one of the banner ads, achieved its highest popularity ever, ranking ninth as the most viewed section of the website during the week following the launch. Results also showed that two PBS websites, PBS Teachers ( and PBS Parents (, generated substantial numbers of “click-throughs” -- just under 5,000 for the PBS parents and PBS teachers sites combined -- and were the most cost-effective outlet for this type of promotion.  (A click through means the viewer not only saw the banner ad, but clicked it in order to go directly to the Cool Spot website.) This pilot project has provided important information for future projects of this type.

Seasonal Outreach Series Continues The New Year’s Eve fact sheet – “New Year, Old Myths, New Fatalities: Alcohol Related Traffic Deaths Jump on New Year’s Eve” – was released in December. The fact sheet was featured on more than 90 news-related websites during the holiday season. In addition, Reuters posted the fact sheet and infograph on its large electronic billboard in New York’s Times Square throughout the day on December 16. The Reuter’s sign is the world’s largest digital sign with 11 screens occupying more than 7,400 square feet and rising 23 stories.

NIAAA Partners with University of North Carolina on Strategic Communications Project During the fall 2008 academic semester, OSPC participated in a communications partnership with the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill on underage drinking prevention. The project arose out of discussions with Dr. Jane Brown, UNC School of Public Health, who had served as a member of the NIAAA Underage Drinking Steering Committee and the Underage Policy and Communications Working Group. Dr. Vivian Faden, Dr. Patricia Powell, and Fred Donodeo were invited to present on NIAAA underage drinking research to Dr. Brown’s class. Interest among students was strong, and two separate teams of Ph.D. and Masters Degree candidates worked with NIAAA on audience research and communications planning projects highlighting the information developed by the NIAAA Underage Drinking Research Initiative and the research-based messages developed by NIAAA. One group focused on parents of pre-teens and the other targeted parents of teenagers who may consider hosting supervised drinking parties. Each group developed formative audience research reports on parental knowledge and attitudes in the Chapel Hill area, focus group results, strategic and message concepts, and ideas for graphic treatments, messages, and channels to reach the intended audiences. OSPC staff are currently exploring opportunities to partner with community groups to implement the work produced in these projects.

Friends of NIAAA” Sponsors Congressional Briefing on Alcohol Treatment and Recovery On October 8, 2008, the Friends of NIAAA coalition, led by the American Psychological Association (APA), held the second in a series of educational briefings for Capitol Hill staff. The session was entitled “Alcoholism Isn't What It Used to Be: New Findings Foreshadow Shifts in Treatment Strategies.” Friends of NIAAA invited Drs. Ting-Kai Li and Mark Willenbring to present at the briefing, along with Drs. Ken Sher and Carlo DiClemente. The Friends of NIAAA also presented Dr. Li with the Friends of NIAAA Leadership Award "for six years of outstanding leadership and stewardship of the nation's premiere research Institute dedicated to understanding the relationship between alcohol use disorders and health.” Co-sponsored by twenty scientific societies and patient advocacy groups, the event attracted 113 attendees representing 36 House Member offices, 6 Senate Member offices, 2 Congressional Committees, a variety of Executive Branch agencies, and various national scientific societies and patient advocacy/provider groups. The day before the briefing, APA staff arranged for delivery of NIAAA’s Clinician’s Guide to every House and Senate office to ensure that even those who couldn't attend the briefing would be informed about advances in NIAAA-supported treatment research.

Trauma and Injury Network Meeting Dr. Ralph Hingson delivered his presentation titled “Strategic Research Plan: Division of Epidemiology and Prevention Research, National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism: Priorities Regarding Alcohol and Trauma” on December 12, 2008, at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland.

Penn State University Prevention Research Center for the Promotion of Human Development At the Center’s 10th Anniversary Celebration, Dr. Ralph Hingson was an overview discussant for a panel on “Innovation in Community-Based Interventions” on November 13-14, 2008 in State College, Pennsylvania,

Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) Symposium on Underage Drinking

On November 7, 2008, Dr. Ralph Hingson delivered his presentation titled “What the Medical Community Can Do to Reduce Underage Drinking.”

Robert Wood Johnson Foundation's (RWJF) Substance Abuse Policy Research Program

Dr. Mike Hilton spoke at a Federal funder's panel for the RWJF's Substance Abuse Policy Research Program in Tucson, Arizona, on December 15-16, 2008. With the termination of this program, current RWJF grantees are looking for potential sources of NIH or Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) funding to continue their research interests. NIAAA/DEPR currently has an active announcement in this area.

I. News Media Interactions

Voice of America Health Forum -- On December 20, 2008, Dr. Max Guo participated in a Voice of America Health Forum radio/TV show (in Chinese) on alcohol abuse and alcoholism. The show ran live in China.

Boston Globe -- Dr. Sam Zakhari gave an interview about alcohol congeners and hangover which was published in the Boston Globe on Dec. 29, 2008

Canadian Broadcasting Corporation -- Dr. Sam Zakhari gave an interview to the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation on moderate drinking, and effects of heavy drinking on physiological behavior of various tissues, that aired on October 19, 2008 in Canada.

Presidential Inauguration -- Angela Martinelli, PhD, RN, CNOR, a Health Science Administrator in NIAAA’s DTRR, participated in the 2009 Presidential Inauguration in Washington, D.C., on January 20, 2009. A Captain in the U.S. Public Health Service, she deployed with the Office of Force Readiness and Deployment (OFRD) and helped to staff one of the medical response teams on the National Mall. Captain Martinelli’s participation was noted in an article in the Washington Post Magazine's special issue on Inauguration Day activities.

New Yorker Letter -- Dr. Mark Willenbring submitted a “Letter to the Editor” which was published in the January 26, 2009 issue of The New Yorker. Dr. Willenbring’s letter noted that a recent New Yorker article about addiction treatment for celebrities “shows the irony that paying more does not guarantee access to the most current therapies.” With regard to treatment for alcohol dependence, he noted that an expanding menu of research-based services makes possible truly individualized treatment and increases client choice and engagement, but only if people have access to it.

Associated Press -- Dr. Vivian Faden was interviewed by an Associated Press reporter on 11/5/08 for a story about parents’ use of alcohol in the presence of their children. The resulting story was carried by several media outlets.

Patient Information Television -- Dr. Mark Willenbring participated in a Patient Information Television broadcast slated to play for several years in major hospitals across the United States. The update on addiction treatment is a teaching tool for nurses’ education of hospitalized patients, many of whom are hospitalized for treatment of the consequences of excessive drinking.

J. What’s Ahead

Drs. Ralph Hingson and Mark Willenbring will conduct a session titled “Examples of Best Practices in Reducing Underage Drinking” at the Communities Anti-Drug Coalitions of America (CADCA) Leadership Forum in Washington, D.C., on February 11, 2009.

Dr. Ralph Hingson will moderate and give a presentation at a workshop titled “Teen Brain Development and Implications for Traffic Safety Programs and Policies” at the 2009 Lifesavers Conference, to be held in Nashville, Tennessee, in March/April 2009. Dr. Hingson will discuss the association between early age of drinking onset and motor vehicle crash involvement after drinking both among youth and adults.

Dr. Ralph Hingson will present at the 2009 Annual Meeting of the Society for Prevention Research (SPR) in Washington, D.C., in May 2009. He will address the magnitude of underage drinking problems and the effects of the minimum legal drinking age laws on alcohol-related traffic crashes.

Dr. Ralph Hingson will give a panel presentation at the 2009 Academic Emergency Medicine Consensus Conference, sponsored by the Society for Academic Emergency Medicine (SAEM), in New Orleans, Louisiana, in May 2009. The panel will be titled “ED-based Public Health Research Funded by Federal Agencies: Progress and Priorities.” Dr. Hingson’s presentation will discuss NIAAA-funded research on emergency departments.

Dr. Dennis Twombly will participate in Brain Awareness Week activities scheduled for

March 18-19, 2009 at the National Museum of Health and Medicine at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center.

K. NIAAA Program Announcement and Request for Applications Information

  • DEPR’s PAs on screening and brief alcohol interventions in underage and young adult populations and on alcohol policy have been well received with many applicants responding.

  • The Effects of Alcohol on Glial Cells (RFA-AA-09-003 and -004). These RFAs invite applications that propose to study the effects of alcohol on glial cells, glial gene expression, neuroimmune and proinflammatory signaling, glial survival and the consequences of these effects on glial-neuronal communication, neuronal gene expression, activity and survival and on behavioral effects of alcohol.

More information: and

  • Limited Competition: Collaborative Study on the Genetics of Alcoholism (COGA) (RFA-AA-09-005). This RFA is a limited competition Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO) soliciting a cooperative agreement (U10) application from investigators currently supported under an existing study entitled “Collaborative Study of the Genetics of Alcoholism (COGA).”

More information:

  • Alcohol Pharmacotherapy and the Treatment and Prevention of HIV/AIDS (R01) (RFA-AA-09-007): Not published as of 2/2/09

  • Alcohol Pharmacotherapy and the Treatment and Prevention of HIV/AIDS (R03) (RFA-AA-09-008): Not published as of 2/2/09

  • Alcohol, Decision-Making, and Adolescent Brain Development (R01) (PA-09-262): Not published as of 2/2/09

  • Alcohol, Decision-Making and Adolescent Brain Development (R21) (PA-09-261): Not published as of 2/2/09

  • Mechanisms of Alcohol and Nicotine Co-Dependence (R01) (PA-09-260): Not published as of 2/2/09

  • Mechanisms of Alcohol and Nicotine Co-Dependence (R21) (PA-09-259): Not published as of 2/2/09

  • PA-09-224: Alcohol Research Resource Awards (R24): Not published as of 2/2/09

Reissued PAs:

  • TPA-09-036 “New Technologies for Liver Disease STTR (R41/R42)”

  • TPA-09-037 “New Technologies for Liver Disease SBIR (R43/R44)”

  • TPA-09-219 “Career Enhancement Award for Stem Cell Research (K18)”

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