NIH – International Research Collaboration on Drug Abuse and Addiction Research

May 21, 2018 by School of Medicine Webmaster

This Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) invites applications for international collaborative research on drug abuse and drug addiction. Newly formed or well-established research teams consisting of investigators from U.S.-based institutions and researchers in other countries may propose state-of-the-science research that takes advantage of unique research opportunities in other countries, speeds scientific discovery, and advances U.S. health science.

This funding opportunity announcement is part of NIDA’s effort to encourage rigorous collaborative international research and will provide funding for projects conducted in whole or in part outside the United States. Investigators at U.S.-based institutions must conduct the research in collaboration with non-U.S.-based investigators. Either the U.S. or the non-U.S. investigator may serve as Program Director(s)/Principal Investigator(s) (PD(s)/PI(s), but the project must include significant contributions of resources by each participant. Resources may include funding or in-kind contributions of personnel and access to study populations, laboratories, and other research facilities.

This is a broad call for innovative research, and applications are encouraged in all areas of science addressing drug addiction including but not limited to prevention, basic science, epidemiology, treatment, and health services. Reearch should significantly advance U.S. health sciences, demonstrate specific relevance to the NIDA and objectives, and take advantage of unusual opportunities that exist outside the United States to access talent, resources, populations, or environmental conditions in other countries that will speed scientific discovery. To determine whether your research plan is relevant to the NIDA mission and objectives, review the NIDA Strategic Plan (

International research priorities may change over time, but in FY2018, the priorities include projects that address linkages between HIV/AIDS and drug abuse, marijuana, abuse of new psychoactive substances and amphetamine-type stimulants, inhalant abuse, smoking during pregnancy, and drugged driving; as well as research projects that address NIDA’s Divisional research priorities and crosscutting research issues.


Areas of Research Focus include, but are not limited to:

This funding opportunity announcement encourages applications in all areas of NIDA-supported science, including studies in basic, clinical, epidemiological, prevention, and services research. Clinical trials may be proposed under this funding opportunity. The intent of this program is to stimulate state-of-the-science collaborative research between investigators from domestic U.S. institutions and researchers in other countries. Newly formed or established research teams may submit applications.

NIDA is also very interested in establishing relationships with research-funding organizations in other countries in order to leverage the limited resources available globally for drug abuse research. The inclusion of funding organizations in other countries, as collaborators, has the potential to improve the focus and quality of the research, and to help make any findings that result from the FOA more readily available and useful globally. Resources may include funding or in-kind contributions of personnel and access to study populations, laboratories, and other research facilities. These examples are not intended to be prescriptive, or to exclude other creative means of achieving the same goals, as long as the efforts directly complement the objectives of this FOA. Rather, NIDA seeks to encourage such collaborations and any additional means to increase the effectiveness of the funds provided for this program.

Research priority areas have been identified that are international in scope, are associated with substantial detrimental health consequences, and for which international collaborative research may provide a unique opportunity to expand our knowledge and ability to effectively respond. While this call is meant to be very broad and inclusive, the following areas of research are current priority areas:

  • Research on marijuana, its acute and chronic effects, especially on the neurobiology and function of the brain, are encouraged. In addition, research on the impacts of policies and laws regarding marijuana possession and use are encouraged.
  • Active drug use, across a variety of substances and modes of administration, is often associated with increased risk of HIV transmission, non-adherence to antiretrovirals (ARVs), or lapses in HIV treatment participation. Studies are needed to discern the best strategy to reach and test high-risk individuals and initiate and monitor ARV therapy for those who test positive. Known as Seek, Test, Treat, and Retain, this approach has been shown to reduce viral load and HIV incidence at the population level.
  • Opioid overdose and addiction has been increasing in the United States and other countries, with synthetic opioids accounting for an increasing share of these problems. Studies are needed regarding trans-national drug markets for synthetic and other opioids, novel approaches to preventing opioid use, injection, and overdose, and novel approaches to treating opioid addiction and delivering services to reduce opioid use and its infectious disease consequences on a population basis.
  • Abuse of Amphetamine-type stimulants, cocaine and its derivatives such as “crack,” and new psychoactive substances—also called synthetic or designer drugs—is a growing problem in the United States and in many other countries. Use of Amphetamine-type substances and cocaine derivatives are associated increased HIV risk. Studies are encouraged to assess the nature and extent of stimulant use (including patterns of distribution), their public health consequences and novel approaches to prevention and treatment of stimulant use. Studies are also encouraged that increase our understanding of designer drugs, including their short- and long-term sequelae, the course of designer drug use and abuse, as well as prevention and treatment approaches and the character of transnational drug markets for these substances.
  • Inhalant abuse continues to be an under-recognized public health problem in many countries. Studies are encouraged to improve epidemiological data on the nature and extent of abuse, to develop and implement effective prevention programs, to better understand the neurobiological impacts of these agents, and to increase public awareness of their impact.
  • Smoking during pregnancy studies are encouraged to increase our knowledge of the prenatal impact of smoking and the effects of early exposure to tobacco in young people and adolescents on development of addiction and other diseases and on cognitive development.
  • Drugged driving studies are encouraged to develop and utilize accurate drug testing technologies to assess the prevalence of driving under the influence of drugs, the role of drugs in accidents, and to assess the costs and benefits of laws and other programs to reduce the incidence and impact of drugged driving.

Other areas of interest include, but are not limited to:

  • Basic research that applies state-of-the-art science and technologies to advance understanding of the mechanisms mediating drug use and addiction, including studies to: validate targets and develop ligands to accelerate the discovery and development of pharmacotherapies for drug addiction; determine the molecular (genetic and epigenetic) and cellular basis of addiction vulnerability; identify the neural circuits and connections underlying drug addiction behaviors and their functional properties; identify behavioral processes that underlie drug use and addiction; and promote cross-cutting NIDA priorities in the areas of HIV/AIDS, pain, sex differences, novel technologies, and Big Data in computational neuroscience.
  • Implementation research to determine optimal ways to integrate comprehensive and sustainable prevention and treatment interventions for drug users into public health and health care practice, particularly in resource constrained settings.
  • Research that explores mechanisms to scale-up research models in diverse settings, assess effectiveness and cost-effectiveness, or demonstrate how to best integrate diverse evidence-based interventions to optimize their impact. Research that takes advantage of policy changes in the delivery and financing of services also is encouraged.
  • Development of surveillance systems to track and respond to emerging drug epidemics, identifying abuse of novel drugs; optimal ways to respond to emerging epidemics and consider the range of linked services (e.g., drug treatment, primary care, health, social, recreational, educational, juvenile justice) for defined populations in various cultural settings;
  • Optimal ways to respond to emerging epidemics and evaluate the impact of a range of linked services (e.g., drug treatment, primary care, health, social, recreational, educational, juvenile justice) for defined populations in various cultural settings;
  • Research on systems or practices that enhance technology transfer and investigate how to integrate research findings into practice in a timely manner across different cultures and regulatory bodies; this may include a new research methodology or approach (e.g., valid/reliable cross-cultural measure of quality of care), rapid testing of drug use for screening drivers, or physician based education on smoking cessation treatments for pregnant women);
  • Research to adapt and test innovative prevention or treatment interventions; test replicability of established prevention/treatment programs, identify key intervention components that impede or account for success in the adaptation process; culturally related barriers and facilitators to implementation; and processes and mechanisms that increase program fidelity and the potential for sustainability;
  • Identification of factors that underlie treatment-seeking behavior in different countries and address the unmet need for treatment (for example, outreach interventions aimed at children at highest risk for inhalant abuse);

Secondary data analysis of existing data sources and, when available, comparison of international data;

  • Studies that make use of data that permit cross-national comparisons of drug use and its consequences, particularly in relation to changes in laws and policies, clinical practice, service delivery and financing, or law enforcement practices. Use of trans-national cohort data such as the NIH International Epidemiology Databases to Evaluate AIDS (IeDeA) HIV cohorts ( is encouraged, as well as data available from the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria (Global Fund), and other activities that track drug use or its consequences on an international basis.
  • Basic biomedical studies are needed to understand the genetic and biological basis for HIV infection and persistence, AIDS-related disease progression, and related co-infections or co-morbidities, in combination with use of licit or illicit substances (including alcohol, tobacco, cannabis, stimulants, opiates). Effects of past or continuing chronic substance use, including smoking and polysubstance use, on factors that impact disease progression and responses to current therapies as well as responses to potential vaccines or new treatment strategies are encouraged;
  • Recent advances in statistical genetics, molecular biology, and genomic approaches have greatly accelerated the ability to identify the etiology of diseases that have a genetic basis. Genetic approaches, such as genome-wide association studies, deep sequencing, or whole genome sequencing are needed to identify chromosomal loci, gene variants, and haplotypes in non-US based populations to examine genetic associations with phenotypes and endophenotypes of addiction vulnerability with or without co-morbid disorders, including HIV-1 infection.
  • Research that takes advantage of particular population characteristics (e.g., genotype, drug use patterns, cultural sanctions) to isolate and study variables underlying risk for drug addiction and impact of use;
  • Basic research in behavior, cognition and neurobiology that capitalizes on unique opportunities in populations of abusers that are characterized by different patterns of abuse than is typically seen in the United States; for example, select groups that use unusual routes of administration, drug combinations, or whose abuse is directed at only one particular drug of abuse rather than the polydrug abuse that typifies users and addicts in the United States;
  • Preclinical and other human or animal laboratory studies relevant to the study of addiction and addictive processes. For example: basic research that expands our knowledge of the impact of drug use on brain development among children and adolescents, as well as knowledge regarding gene and environment interactions.
  • Development of computational and modeling approaches to study addiction including but not limited to computational neuroscience, neuro- and behavioral economics, multiscale modeling, population modeling and other mathematical and or modeling approaches. We encourage collaborative research resources that facilitate multi-disciplinary projects of international scope.
  • Small and big data approaches to predictive modeling identifying populations deemed to garner the most benefit from the limited resources available to provide drug abuse treatment. This includes data analysis from standard and non-standard data sources. Novel data acquisition modalities including mobile sensors and mobile phone applications will also be considered;

Deadlines:  standard dates and AIDS dates apply


Filed Under: Funding Opportunities