International Program (2012-2014)


2012-2013 NIDA INVEST Research Fellowship for Bilal A. Salem, M.D.

Richard A. Rawson, Ph.D., Principal Investigator (rrawson@mednet.ucla.edu)

The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) supports the International Visiting Scientists and Technical Exchange  Program (INVEST) Drug Abuse Research Fellowship to foster international collaborative research related to drug abuse and addiction.  Dr. Bilal A. Salem, M.D., from the Department of Psychiatry, King Abdulla University for Science and Technology in Saudi Arabia, was awarded a 10-Month fellowship to study and obtain mentorship by Dr. Richard Rawson and Dr. Andrew Dean.  During his time at UCLA, Dr. Salem worked closely with both mentors on multiple projects and participated in several trainings and scientific meetings.  Dr. Salem gained research knowledge and experience by conducting data analysis on a NIDA-funded study on the effects of exercise on various aspects and outcomes of methamphetamine use disorder.  He focused on investigating the craving, depression, and anxiety symptoms among newly abstinent methamphetamine (MA)-dependent individuals in residential treatment and prepared results for scientific presentations.  In addition, Dr. Salem received training and guidance to finalize his study proposal preparation upon his return to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) on a series of drug abuse projects.  The first would be to conduct a survey to be applied to a sample of Captagon-dependent patients, a drug that is widely used in KSA, and the second is examining the cognitive effects of Captagon and its relation to outcomes in a randomized controlled trial.

2012-2013 NIDA INVEST Research Fellowship for Bilal A. Salem, M.D,. was funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, grant 20140652, from January 2014 through November 2014.


2012 IAS-NIDA Fellowship Programme
Support for Seyed Ramin Radfar

Richard A. Rawson, Ph.D., Principal Investigator (rrawson@mednet.ucla.edu)

The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) and International AIDS Society (IAS) facilitate an international fellowship program encouraging HIV and drug use research.  Dr. Seyed Ramin Radfar was awarded an 8-month fellowship under the mentorship of Richard Rawson at UCLA ISAP.  His fellowship goal was to improve his abilities to conduct research that would clarify the depth, prevalence, and HIV-related risky behaviors that are associated with amphetamine-type stimulant use in those who are under methadone maintenance (MMT) in an absolute scientific frame.  The research project approved within his fellowship was a mixed method, qualitative, and quantitative study on the effect of methamphetamine use on lifestyle and HIV risk-related behaviors among MMT/BMT patients in Tehran, Iran.  The project required him to travel to Iran in order to collect data for the research project and return to the United States to complete his fellowship and receive guidance and training on data analysis and outcome reporting.  Outcomes from the project led to several manuscripts, with two published to date, as well as participation at the 20th International AIDS Conference.

2012 IAS-NIDA Fellowship Programme Support for Seyed Ramin Radfar was funded by the International AIDS Society, grant 20132511, from May 2013 through January 2014.


Conference Series to Promote Global Health:
Training and Education in the Prevention and Treatment
of Substance Use Disorders and HIV
in Asian/Pacific Island Populations

Yih-Ing Hser, Ph.D., Principal Investigator (yhser@ucla.edu)
Elizabeth Evans, M.A., and Marya Schulte, Ph.D., Project Directors

This international Conference Series to Promote Global Health will included a biennial three-day conference on translational research methods, prevention and treatment practices, and policy issues regarding substance use disorders and their interplay with HIV and other health consequences among Asian and Pacific Islander groups living in the United States and abroad. The Conference Series had the following aims: (1) establish an international network for future collaboration in substance abuse research and prevention/treatment programs, (2) update research findings on substance use disorders, HIV/AIDS, and related topics, (3) provide intensive learning/training experiences to impart knowledge on methodological tools necessary for the conceptualization, implementation, and analysis of research, and (4) provide training workshops for local providers in treatment and prevention approaches and practices. The Conferences will rotate among Asian/Pacific Island countries and the United States, with each country providing local support as the annual "co-host." The first event was held in Taipei, Taiwan, in April 2013. The second event will be held in Hangzhou, China, in April 2015. The Conference Series for infrastructure development and training and education activities will extend NIDA's mission of promulgating research-based interventions to improve services and promote global health.

Publications resulting from the Conference Series include:

A special issue of the Journal of Food and Drug Analysis, “Promoting global health: Treatment and prevention of substance use and HIV in Asia.” Vol. 21, No. 4, December 2013.

A special issue of the Journal of Neuroimmune Pharmacology, “Promoting global health: Treatment and prevention of substance abuse and HIV in Asia. (in press).

For additional information, please visit: http://www.caldar.org/html2/global-health-conference-series.html

Conference Series to Promote Global Health was funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, grant 5 R13 DA035084, from December 2012 to November 2017.


Distinguished International Scientist
Collaboration Award (DISCA)
for Jiang Du, MD

Yih-Ing Hser, Ph.D., Principal Investigator (yhser@ucla.edu)

The NIDA International Program’s DISCA program supports experienced drug abuse researchers from around the world for a 1- to 3-month professional visit to work with a U.S. NIDA-supported scientist to stimulate innovative collaborative research.  During her tenure at UCLA, Dr. Du was engaged in substance abuse research and participation in manuscript concept meetings, workshops, and other academic activities at ISAP. She also collaborated in the writing of a proposal for a NIH/NIDA application and manuscripts using data from previous collaborative research about HIV/HCV infection intervention among injection drug users (IDUs) in Shanghai.

For more information on the DISCA awards, please visit http://www.drugabuse.gov/international/distinguished-international-scientist-collaboration-program

Distinguished International Scientist Collaboration Award (DISCA) for Jiang Du, MD, was funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse from July 2013 to September 2013.


Drug Demand Reduction Initiative for Iraq

Richard A. Rawson, Ph.D., Principal Investigator (rrawson@mednet.ucla.edu)

SAMHSA, in collaboration with the U.S. State Department’s Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs, awarded ISAP this grant to support the Iraqi Ministry of Health in establishing a sustainable and functional Center of Excellence on Substance Abuse Services at Baghdad’s Medical City Complex. This project strengthened the substance use disorder treatment and prevention capacity in Iraq. Funds were used by ISAP to develop training programs and technical assistance in screening, brief intervention, and referral to treatment (SBIRT), as well as medication strategies and organizational and supervisory responsibilities. Along with ISAP, the project’s subcontracted organizations, Cairo University, SKOUN Lebanese Addictions Center, and Inova Fairfax Hospital in Virginia, trained a core group of Iraqi medical professionals to disseminate clinical and research expertise into substance use disorder service systems throughout Iraq. In addition, a Community Epidemiology Workgroup was established to monitor drug trends in Iraq..

Drug Demand Reduction Initiative for Iraq was funded by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, grant 1 U79 T1023450, from August 2011 to March 2013.


Establishment of Harm Reduction
Treatment Clinic in the Southern Suburbs
of Beirut (Skoun Chiyah)

Richard A. Rawson, Ph.D., Principal Investigator (rrawson@mednet.ucla.edu)
Traci Rieckmann, Ph.D., Co-Investigator (rieckman@ohsu.edu)

Currently, there is a need in Lebanon to effectively address an increasing heroin-use problem and associated injection drug use.  Without effectively addressing these problems, it is inevitable that rates of hepatitis, HIV, and other drug-use sequelae will increase.  The establishment of a clinic in Chiyah by Skoun is intended to be an important step in promoting meaningful harm reduction services in Beirut to address the problems of heroin addiction and related problems.  Central to this effort is the establishment of opiate substitution therapy (OST) as an accepted and mainstream treatment in Lebanon.  If the Skoun Chiyah clinic successfully meets the goals of the 3-year funding from Drosos Foundation, it will provide an important resource for services in South Beirut and will be a model for the expansion of harm reduction/OST in Lebanon. The overarching goal of the evaluation is to assess if the Skoun Chiyah clinic is able to develop a high quality and clinically effective OST service, become self-sustaining, and promote acceptance and use of OST in Lebanon.  The evaluation plan is designed to assess the extent to which the clinic is able to achieve four objectives:  (1) establish services based on harm reduction approaches that offer comprehensive assessment, OST, psychiatric care, supportive counseling, and medical and family support; (2) retain patients in treatment for clinically significant durations, produce reductions in drug use and injection behaviors, reduce legal problems, and receive positive patient ratings; (3) develop financing to support and sustain services beyond the period of the Drosos funding, and (4) promote OST and related harm reduction services among community members and policy makers in Lebanon.

Establishment of Harm Reduction Treatment Clinic in the Southern Suburbs of Beirut (Skoun Chiyah) was funded by the Skoun Lebanese Addictions Center, contract 20122811, from October 2012 through July 2015.


Evaluation Proposal:
Marsa Sexual Health Center, Beirut, Lebanon

Richard A. Rawson, Ph.D., Principal Investigator (rrawson@mednet.ucla.edu)
Traci Rieckmann, Ph.D., Co-Investigator (rieckman@ohsu.edu)

The Drosos Foundation, in partnership with the Marsa Sexual Health Center, awarded funding to UCLA ISAP to evaluate the impact of the expansion of sexual health services provided at the Marsa Center.  Until recently, there was a complete paucity of sexual health screening and support services in Lebanon.  In 2010, the World Health Organization, Arab Foundation for Freedoms and Equality, and Medico (Germany) joined to provide support for the Marsa Sexual Health Center in response to the need for a safe, confidential, and anonymous space for sexually active youth in Lebanon. Outreach efforts and clinical services were also enhanced for women and lesbian, bisexual, transgender, intersex, and questioning (LGBTIQ) individuals.   This evaluation is being done to document whether access to care, quality of care, as well as the organization and sustainability of Marsa services are improved.  Marsa is the first sexual health center focusing on youth, women, and LGBTIQ in Lebanon, making this evaluation critical and timely for the health of many individuals. 

As a result of the expansion efforts, the evaluation revealed that the Marsa Center has increased capacity, access, and quality of care for the targeted population.  They established a clinic and an organization that will set a new standard for sexual health services in the Middle East. They gained community acceptance and recognition. By maintaining a professional demeanor, producing highly professional materials, and engaging and retaining excellent professionals, they are viewed positively and accepted even in the politically charged environment of Beirut. They have given credibility and legitimacy to the area of sexual health services.

Evaluation Proposal: Marsa Sexual Health Center was funded by CTR, Grant 20122810, from October 2012 through July 2015.


It Came from the North:
Estimating the Production of
Synthetic Drugs in Quebec, Canada

David Farabee, Ph.D., Principal Investigator
(dfarabee@ucla.edu)
Carlo Morselli, Ph.D. (University of Montreal) &
Sheldon Zhang, Ph.D. (San Diego State University),
Co-Investigators

The primary focus of this study is to estimate the size of synthetic drug production (methamphetamine in particular) in Quebec, Canada, assess its export potential, and explore implications for counter-narcotics policies.  Official reports from Canada, the United States, and the United Nations suggest that Canada is becoming a major global supplier of synthetic drugs. But little empirical research has been conducted to verify these claims or to estimate the size of the drug trade. Estimating the production and trafficking of any illicit drugs is a daunting endeavor because conventional sampling or statistical procedures are inadequate. In this study, we apply capture-recapture sampling and multiple data sources to gauge this “hidden market” and its impact on the U.S. drug market. 

It Came from the North: Estimating the Production of Synthetic Drugs in Quebec, Canada, was funded by the National Institute of Justice, grant 2010-IJ-CX-0020, from January 2011 to December 2013.


Real-Time Assessment of Triggers
and Coping Responses in China

Yih-Ing Hser, Ph.D., Principal Investigator (yhser@ucla.edu)
Min Zhao, M.D., M.D. & Ph.D., Co-Investigator
Marya Schulte, Ph.D., Project Director (mtschulte@ucla.edu)

While China has made strides in the implementation of MMT, high rates of continued opiate use and dropout among MMT patients remain problematic.  Improved self-monitoring and self-management are important elements in chronic disease management, but these concepts are relatively new to Chinese MMT providers and patients.  A better understanding of common triggers and effective coping strategies among MMT patients will provide a foundation for developing effective interventions. Communication technologies and the proliferation of cell phones in China provide great opportunities to engage and network with patients and to collect ecological momentary assessment data on triggers and coping responses. This project tests the feasibility and acceptability of EMA data collection of triggers and coping responses using a cell phone application (“S-Health”). The study aims are (1) To develop an interactive cell phone-supported mobile health prototype that establishes individualized profiles of risks or triggers and that supports knowledge and skill building, including coping strategies; and (2) To conduct a pilot study to assess the reliability and validity of the EMA data.  A secondary objective is to obtain preliminary evidence on self-monitoring in relation to outcome data. The long-term goal of this line of research is to develop promising strategies that optimize treatment effectiveness and support sustained recovery by taking advantage of the popularity of cell phone use, and adapting and applying evidence-based principles to address drug use and HIV/HCV risk behaviors. 

Real-Time Assessment of Triggers and Coping Responses in China  was funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, grant 5 R21 DA033285, from July 2012 through June 2015.


Survey of Drug Use in Iraq

Richard A. Rawson, Ph.D., Principal Investigator (rrawson@mednet.ucla.edu)
Darren Urada, Ph.D., Co-Investigator
Valerie Antonini, M.P.H., Project Director

With the considerable uncertainty about the extent of drug and alcohol problems in Iraq, efforts have been made to address the growing evidence of availability and use of illicit drugs in Iraq.  To further the work and understanding led through the newly established Iraqi Community Epidemiology Work Group (I-CEWG), the U.S. State Department: Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement partnered with the Center for Human Services and UCLA ISAP to develop a household survey intended to assess who the people are who are using drugs and alcohol (age, gender, social/ethnic/religious group); which parts of the country have the most severe problems (city, rural areas, borders, port cities); which drugs/alcohol they are using (heroin amphetamine, alcohol, prescription drugs); and what amounts are being used by the Iraqi citizens.  The use of well-established sampling methodology and strategies to validate the information will be an essential element in any effort to measure and monitor the drug/alcohol situation in Iraq.  UCLA ISAP, subcontracted by CHS, will provide technical expertise on the design of the survey to be used, the sampling methodology, the training plan for surveyors, the implementation plan for the survey, the data management methodology, the data analysis plan, and the writing of the report from the survey findings.

 Survey of Drug Use in Iraq was funded by the Center for Human Services, grant FY13-A01-7014, from September 2013 through August 2015.


UCLA-Cairo University Addiction Unit Research Training Program

Richard A. Rawson, Ph.D., Principal Investigator (rrawson@mednet.ucla.edu)
Christine E. Grella, Ph.D., Co-Investigator
Valerie Antonini, M.P.H., Project Director

Cairo University (Kasr El-Ainy) is a leading educational institution in Egypt, and the Middle East, and has been a leading medical training institution for almost a century training MDs as practitioners and medical leaders throughout the region.  The Fogarty International Research Training Program is an excellent mechanism to link the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) School of Medicine with the Cairo University School of Medicine (Cairo University) in a beneficial collaborative agreement by extending the existing relationship between the universities’ Departments of Psychiatry to build Cairo University’s capacity in the area of research on substance use disorders, their treatment, and on the systems of care that deliver treatment in Egypt.   The proposed training plan will include: both short- and long-term fellows, ranging from 3 weeks to 9 months.  Selected fellows will spend their training time at UCLA, attend CPDD conferences and annual addiction research institute conferences in Cairo, and participate in workshops and distance learning activities.  While clinical trials research is the major theme of the training program, the diverse range of research knowledge and expertise at UCLA ISAP facilitates significant exposure to research on the basic neurophysiology of addiction, brain imaging research, human laboratory research methods, women and adolescent issues, medical sequellae of drug use (including HIV and hepatitis), epidemiological research, health services research, drug abuse and the criminal justice system, and many other areas.  Each fellow will have a faculty research mentor from UCLA to oversee a plan of research knowledge/skills development.

UCLA-Cairo University Addiction Unit Research Training Program was funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, grant 5 D43 TW009102, from August 2012 through February 2016.

 

Last Updated:  08/10/2015

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