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NIH's Dr. Nora Volkow to speak via videocast at Addiction Symposium Nov. 28

NIH's Dr. Nora Volkow to speak via videocast at Addiction Symposium Nov. 28

SYRACUSE, N.Y. -- One of the nation’s foremost authorities on drug addiction will address the nation’s opioid epidemic in a special video cast to be screened by Upstate Medical University Nov. 28.

Nora D. Volkow, MD, director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) at the National Institutes of Health who is known for her research demonstrating that drug addiction is a disease of the human brain, will offer an hour-long presentation of the opioid epidemic, beginning at 9 a.m. in the Medical Alumni Auditorium of Weiskotten Hall on the Upstate campus. The presentation, via video cast, is open to the public.

Her presentation kicks off a daylong examination of drug addiction featuring experts from Upstate the University of Pittsburgh. Titled “Addiction: From societal crisis to brain crisis,” the symposium will address issues such as cocaine cravings and alcohol abuse.  The symposium is sponsored by the College of Medicine Dean’s Office and the Department of Psychiatry.

“Dr. Volkow just might be the most quoted authority in the area of drug abuse and opioid addiction,” said Julio Licinio, MD, PhD, dean of the College of Medicine. “I cannot imagine any solution to the epidemic of drug addiction coming without her influence or that of her agency.”

In a recent edition of the New England Journal of Medicine, Volkow and NIH director Francis Collins MD, wrote: “Every day, more than 90 Americans die from opioid overdose.”

Much of the NIH’s recent work is to gather drug companies to spark discussion on the development of better overdose drugs. “The NIH will now work with private partners to develop stronger, longer-acting formulations of antagonists, including naloxone, to counteract the very-high-potency synthetic opioids that are now claiming thousands of lives each year,” wrote Collins and Volkow.

The NIDA, which Volkow directs, funded a recently released study that found two main medications for treating opioid addictions are equal in their effectiveness. The study compared Vivitrol and Suboxone and found that 52 percent of those who took Vivitrol relapsed during the study, which spanned 24 weeks, compared by 56 percent who took Suboxone.

Following Volkow’s presentation, visiting faculty members from the University of Pittsburgh will offer the following presentations:

--Yan Dong PhD, MSc, on “Synaptic and circuit remodeling in cocaine seeking: The new Rejuvenation Hypothesis,” 10 a.m.

--Yanhua Huang, PhD, on “Sleep regulates cocaine craving,” 10:45 a.m.

--Oliver Schluter, MSc, MD, PhD, on “Molecular mechanisms of silent synapse-based neurocircuit refinement,” at 11:30 a.m.

Following a break for lunch from 12:15 to 1:30 p.m., the symposium will continue with the following presentations from Upstate faculty:

--Brian Johnson, PhD, “Engineering neurobiological systems,” 1:45 p.m.

--Eric Olson, PhD, “The acute response of the nascent apical dendrite to alcohol exposure,” 2:30 p.m.

--Frank Middleton, PhD, “Epigenetics of human alcohol abuse in Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder,” 3 p.m.