NCRG On The Road: Dispatch From Collaborative Perspectives On Addiction Conference – Gambling Continues To Be “Orphan” At Nih

Christine Reilly, NCRG Senior Research Director

This post was written by Christine Reilly, the NCRG’s senior research director, on Saturday, March 1, 2014.

Greetings from Atlanta! I’m attending the secondCollaborative Perspectives on Addiction Conference, a joint meeting of members of the American Psychological Associations’ Division 50 (Society of Addiction Psychology) and Division 28 (Psychopharmacology and Substance Abuse). This year’s theme is “Changing Addictive Behavior: Bench to Bedside and Back Again.”

I attended a pre-con session on efforts to integrate research conducted by theNational Institute on Drug Abuse(NIDA), theNational Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism(NIAAA) and theNational Cancer Institute(NCI). TheCollaborative Research on Addiction(CRAN) initiative grew out of years of deliberation at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) about the proposed merger of NIAAA and NIDA. NIH decided in 2013 to not pursue the merger but did make a commitment to encourage more functional integration between the institutes.

Led by Bob Huebner, Ph.D., from NIAAA, Deborah Dowell, M.D., M.P.H. from Centers for Disease Control, the workshop explained that the mission of CRAN is to provide a strong collaborative framework for enabling NIDA, NIAAA and NCI to pool resources and expertise, create synergies in addiction science, address new research opportunities, and meet the public’s health needs. This group’s current Funding Opportunity Announcement intends to promote research on new and/or under-recognized opportunities addressing polysubstance use and comorbidity.

I asked Dr. Huebner if projects investigating gambling disorder would be eligible for the CRAN funding, especially in light of the high comorbidity rate with other addictive disorders. I noted that researchers had encountered resistance to gambling research at NIDA and other institutes. Labeling gambling disorder research an “orphan,” because no one institute has responsibility for it, Dr. Huebner agreed that the behavioral addictions are an important issue but that investigators focused on gambling should look to the National Institute on Mental Health (NIMH) for funding. He added that gambling disorder would have been included had the plans for a new institute on addiction been realized.

Investigators, what has been your experience in seeking funding from NIH for gambling-focused research projects? Please share in the comments section.

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