Current Trends in Drug Abuse Research
12th Annual CDD Symposium
May 8th, 2014, 9:00am-4:30pm
The Fenway Center, 77 St Stephen Street
presented by The Center for Drug Discovery at Northeastern University
The Center for Drug Discovery was delighted to host the twelfth instalment of the “Current Trends in Drug Abuse Research” symposium on Thursday, May 8th, 2014. This annual symposium was originally developed as part of the Center's National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA)-funded training program as a forum for the presentation of the latest research in this and related fields; a means of increasing public awareness of drug-abuse research; and a mechanism for enhancing the educational experience of our trainees. As a full-day program held at the main Northeastern University campus, it has attracted attendees from the university, industry, and the Boston pharma research corridor.
This year, the Center was particularly excited to host two keynote speakers from the National Institutes of Health. Dr. Elena Koustova, Director of the Office of Translational Initiatives and Program Innovations at NIDA, discussed the powerful role increased digital publication has had on reproducibility of results, under the title “Majority of Research Results Is Irreproducible: How Well Science Distinguishes Truth From Fallacy?” The organizers were particularly grateful for her paper’s extended discussion and Q&A, which was especially useful for the students and early career investigators who attended. In the afternoon, Dr. Steven Goldberg, Senior Investigator of the Behavioral Neuroscience Branch at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Intramural Research Program and Senior Investigator and Chief of the Preclinical Pharmacology Section at NIDA, presented on “New Targets for Modulation of Nicotine and Cannabinoid Reward and Relapse,” offering an insight into how some of the Center’s own research into cannabinergic compounds has been used to combat nicotine addiction in animal models.
In addition, the Center welcomed presentations from a number of eminent scholars in the fields of drugs of abuse and drug discovery. Dr. Brian Kangas of Harvard Medical School-McLean Hospital presented on the use of touch screen technology in animal models of addiction under the title “Effect of Cannabinoids on Touchscreen-based Learning and Memory Tasks;” Dr. Gerhard Wagner from Harvard Medical School and a world leader in the development and use of nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy presented on “Anti-cancer Drug Discovery Targeting the Translation Initiation System,” and Dr. Mahmoud Nasr, a former graduate student of the Center and now a postdoctoral research fellow at the Harvard Medical School, discussed his doctoral research on the use of nanodisc technology for understanding the biology of protein drug targets, “Structural and Functional Characterization of Membrane Proteins Using Phospholipid Bilayer Nanodiscs.”
The Center also had the opportunity to present on two recent successes of its own. Dr. Spiro Pavlopoulos, co-head of the Center’s biophysics laboratory, presented on “N-Acylethanolamine Acid Amidase (NAAA): Characterization for Drug Discovery,” a new direction in enzyme research, which is also the topic of a recently-funded R21/R33 NIDA grant. Dr. Spyridon Nikas, co-head of the Center’s chemistry laboratory, discussed research into the chemistry of potent, short-acting cannabis analogs, “Safer Medications through Controlled Deactivation,” research that has been featured in Chemistry & Engineering News and on the NIH website.
The symposium was well-attended by members of the CDD, Northeastern, and academic and industrial researchers from throughout the Northeast region. The Center was especially grateful for the participation of Dr. Terry Fulmer, Dean of the Bouvé College of Health Sciences, Professor Jack Reynolds, Dean of the School of Pharmacy; Joel Bressler, Director of the Office of Research Innovation, and George Behrakis, Chairman of Gainesborough Investments and Chair of the Center's Strategic Advisory Board. The Center gratefully recognizes the contributions of Dr. David Janero, Ms. Jessica Ehinger and Miss Samantha Molineaux for their roles in organizing the day's events, and thanks Northeastern University, Rebecca's Catering and the Events Management Office for their superb service throughout the day. The CDD extends its thanks to all those who participated in the symposium, and warmly invites all participants to return for the 13th installment in spring, 2015.