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Vol. LIX, No. 9
May 4, 2007

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NIDA Fellowships Offer Unique Experience To World’s Drug Abuse Researchers

When the National Institute on Drug Abuse International Program holds its annual orientation for INVEST and Hubert H. Humphrey Drug Abuse Research Fellows, it introduces a diverse group of researchers, policymakers and treatment providers to NIH and the public health perspective on drug abuse. The 19 fellows who recently visited NIH were no exception: Participants included an Irish ethnographer, a pair of South Korean neuropsychiatrists, a Vietnamese policymaker and a Kenyan clinician.

Humphrey fellow Dr. Violet Okech, a psychiatrist and HIV counselor from Kenya, said visits to NIH “have inspired me to believe that research can be successfully put into practice to improve people’s lives and health…I believe that I will return to Kenya equipped not only with new skills and knowledge in public mental health and women’s health, but also as a more compassionate physician.”

The research training fellowships bring two different types of professionals to the United States. INVEST fellowships are 12-month, postdoctoral appointments with NIDA grantees for promising young investigators. The 10-month Humphrey fellowships provide academic and research experience for mid-career professionals from low-income and transitional countries. Five INVEST fellows and 13 Humphrey fellows visited NIDA, along with NIDA visiting scientist Dr. Michiel de Ruiter of The Netherlands.

“It was striking to see how diverse the backgrounds, professions and research projects were,” said de Ruiter, “and it was a good reminder that the ultimate goal of my own [basic science] research is to advance prevention and treatment of drug abuse and dependence.”

The fellows met with NIDA program officers to learn about the institute’s research priorities, structuring future research projects and potential collaborators. Duc Cuu Nguyen, a Humphrey fellow from Vietnam, said the fellowship helped him establish many professional contacts and that the program “not only enriches professional and social knowledge, but also broadens the relationship between countries in the field of drug abuse.” Another Humphrey fellow, Amani Msami Kisanga, a pharmacist from Tanzania, agreed. “I have gained a wider understanding of the political system and the culture of America and established many professional contacts that will enhance my collaboration with the U.S.,” Kisanga said. “The program has enriched me professionally and broadened my perspectives, particularly in the area of drug abuse prevention and treatment, which will enable me to provide significant contributions to the establishment of drug treatment centers and effective drug and HIV prevention programs in Tanzania.”

The fellowships increase research capacity to address addiction and related health issues around the world. Humphrey fellow Dr. Mehboob Singh from India predicts that the combination of academic, research and professional development activities will help him “to build a cost-effective and sustainable program for substance abuse prevention and treatment and to do relevant research in my country.”

For Humphrey fellow Dr. Kevin Goulbourne, a Jamaican psychiatrist, it’s the collegiality that’s especially important. “Interaction with colleagues from developing countries provides a good forum where we can initiate discussion on how we plan to adapt and implement evidence-based drug abuse policy, prevention, treatment and research in our respective countries,” he explained.

For more information about the INVEST and Humphrey fellowships, go to NIH Record Icon

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