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NIDA responds to budget challenges with division reorganization

October 5, 2015
by Gary A. Enos, Editor
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An organizational restructuring at the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) is not expected to alter the external research efforts that NIDA supports, but could result in more integration of related areas of science that fall under the institute's umbrella, a leading NIDA official tells Addiction Professional. Tight budgets and staffing reductions under the National Institutes of Health (NIH) are largely responsible for the changes to NIDA's divisional structure that took effect Oct. 1.

The reorganization reduces from four to three the number of divisions in NIDA's extramural research program, which administers NIDA grants to entities outside the institute. Functions under NIDA's Division of Clinical Neuroscience and Behavioral Research will move to the other three divisions under the extramural program. The reorganization does not affect NIDA's in-house research efforts.

“We might if we're lucky get a win/win out of it,” says NIDA deputy director Wilson Compton, MD.

Under a newly designed Division of Neuroscience and Behavior, there will be a greater interaction between animal and human brain research, says Compton. Also, under a renamed Division of Therapeutics and Medical Consequences (formerly the Division of Pharmacotherapies and Medical Consequences of Drug Abuse), there can be a greater link between medication treatments and the behavioral therapies that in part came under the Clinical Neuroscience and Behavioral Research division, he says.

A workgroup for the NIDA Advisory Council reviewed the institute's organizational structure in the spring and issued recommendations that shaped the reorganization that has now taken effect. The workgroup “encouraged NIDA leadership to embrace an organizational structure that would strengthen functional integration throughout NIDA and continue to emphasize translational neuroscience, brain development, and neurobehavioral interventions research as core elements of NIDA's mission,” workgroup chairman John Rotrosen, MD, a professor of psychiatry at the New York University School of Medicine, said in a NIDA news release.

There has been a gradual staff reduction in NIDA's external scientific group over the past three years, says Compton, with most of that resulting from not filling the positions of departing or retiring staff members.