Friday, November 16, 2012

NIDA/NIAAA Merger Called Off!

This morning, Francis Collins, MD, PhD, the Director of the National Institutes of Health announced that he had decided to reverse his earlier decision to proceed with the merger of the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) and the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA). This is a cause for celebration, as the merger was a solution in search of a problem right from the start.

For most of us at NIAAA (this process started when I was still there) it always looked like a simple power grab by NIDA and a relatively small but influential group of researchers and policymakers closely affiliated with it. The White House Office of Drug Control Policy (ONDCP; the Drug Czar), former NIDA Director Alan Leschner (who coveted NIAAA when he was at NIDA,) and current NIDA Director Nora Volkow all pushed very hard to make this happen. The "problem" it was supposed to solve were "missed opportunities" to pursue research involving both alcohol and drug disorders, but that's actually never been a problem in reality. The two institutes collaborate on multiple initiatives, and both alcohol and other drug disorders are frequently studied together, if only because they often occur together. But few of us involved with this ever thought there was a problem with the two institutes.

At any rate, without getting into details right now, I think this is very good news indeed.


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