Addiction Research Center to implement research training in Ukraine

August 28, 2012

The University of Michigan Addiction Research Center (UMARC), in association with the National University of Kyiv-Mohyla Academy and the Research Institute for Social and Forensic Psychiatry and Neurology in the Ukrainian Health Ministry, has received a 5-year NIH award to implement a research training program. The program will build the cadre of Ukrainian substance abuse researchers and clinician-scientists who identify, evaluate and treat substance use disorders (SUDs) in Ukraine.

Following on 10 years of work in Central and Eastern Europe by UMARC and Department of Psychiatry faculty, this new program will use a multi-tier training structure to improve and expand lifespan focused SUD research and establish developmentally-focused, community-based screening and treatment programs across Ukraine.

Dr. Robert Zucker, professor of Psychiatry and Psychology, and director of UMARC and the Psychiatry Department’s Substance Abuse Section, leads the program. Dr. Kirk Brower, professor of Psychiatry and executive director of U-M Addiction Treatment Services, serves as deputy director. The rest of the U-M training and advisory teams include faculty from medicine, public health, social work, nursing, LSA and the Department of Veteran’s Affairs. The current initiative evolved from Zucker’s prior NIH-supported international substance abuse research, which involved collaborations with biomedical and behavioral scientists from Poland, Latvia, Slovakia and Ukraine.

Ukraine ranks 5th in the world in per capita alcohol consumption and is in the highest World Health Organization risk category for alcohol problems. The country is a major route for transport of illicit drugs between Central Asia and Europe and has Europe’s highest and most epidemic rate of HIV transmission via intravenous drug use. SUD is arguably the most damaging chronic, non-communicable disorder in Ukraine. The prevalence of co-morbid psychological conditions and suicidal behaviors in Ukrainians are also among the highest in Europe. Clinical science and practice within Ukraine has only within the past decade begun to recognize SUD as a lifespan and chronic disease. Current Ukrainian scientific activity and clinical practice focuses on clinical disorder with substantial gaps in prevention science and multi-level etiologic research. The new program aims to transfer knowledge about developmental etiology of SUDs and implement intervention techniques that build upon that scientific base.

A longer article can be found here.