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August 12, 2016
NIDA Hosts Winners of Addiction Science Awards

NIDA director Dr. Nora Volkow (l) with (from l) second place winner Lindsay Poulos, third place winner Rachel Mashal, and first place winner Kashfia Rahman, and Dr. William Dewey, chair, Friends of NIDA
NIDA director Dr. Nora Volkow (l) with (from l) second place winner Lindsay Poulos, third place winner Rachel Mashal, and first place winner Kashfia Rahman, and Dr. William Dewey, chair, Friends of NIDA

The winners of NIDA’s 2016 Addiction Science Awards, part of the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF), presented their projects to NIDA director Dr. Nora Volkow and other NIDA scientists on July 19. Following the presentation, the awardees toured the NIH campus. The Addiction Science Awards are coordinated by NIDA as well as Friends of NIDA, a private group dedicated to furthering NIDA’s mission. ISEF is the world’s largest science competition for high school students.

First place went to Kashfia Rahman, a sophomore at Brookings High School in Brookings, S. Dak., and the recipient of last year’s third place Addiction Science Award. Her project found a direct correlation between a teen’s negative outlook on stress and a negative physical stress response that adversely affects sleep quality, emotion and cognition. Rahman was able to show that how a teen handles stress can affect how vulnerable he or she is to drug use and addiction.

Second place went to 15-year-old Lindsay Poulos, a sophomore at the Episcopal School of Jacksonville in Jacksonville, Fla., who explored the concept that e-cigarettes might be a healthier alternative to traditional cigarettes. Her project found that fruit flies exposed to e-cigarette vapor showed evidence of gene mutations, suggesting that health risks exist with e-cigarette nicotine delivery systems.

Winning third place was 18-year-old Rachel Mashal, a senior at John F. Kennedy High School in Bellmore, N.Y. Her project found that dietary changes protected adult fruit flies from the negative effects of caffeine. She found that male fruit flies are more vulnerable to some of the negative effects of caffeine during development and in adulthood than are the female flies, suggesting that diet can influence males and females differently in response to a substance like caffeine. Further research might show that diet can influence how people respond to different drugs of abuse, Mashal said.

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