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Wednesday, May 18, 2011

How should addiction-related research at the national institutes of health be reorganized?

The decades-old debate about the optimum organizational structure of the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) and National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) has reached a crescendo with the recent deliberations of the Scientific Management Review Board, which, despite the lack of a crisis, proposed a structural reorganization that would dissolve the two institutes and create a new institute for substance use, abuse, and addiction, in hope of new scientific and public health advances (Collins, 2010). For a new institute to succeed, a multitude of potential challenges need to be negotiated effectively.

Notably, new funds will be needed, even in the current difficult national economic climate, to coalesce the infrastructure of NIAAA and NIDA and incorporate addiction-related research currently conducted by other National Institutes of Health (NIH) institutes. To succeed, the new institute would also require an enormous amount of cooperation from other institutes as the portfolios of research in the areas of alcohol, tobacco, and other drug abuse are transferred to it. Thus, in the near term, a structural reorganization would be less efficient and more costly than the individual institutes are currently. Only with careful strategic planning would it be possible to increase efficiency and reduce costs over time.  > > > >  Read More