Request for Information (RFI): FY 2016–2020 Strategic Plan for the National Institute on Drug Abuse, National Institutes of Health

Notice Number:


Key Dates

Release Date: December 10, 2014

Response Date: January 30, 2015

Related Announcements


Issued by

National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA)


The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) is revitalizing its Strategic Plan (refer to to provide a framework for the research it will support over the next five years. The purpose of this Request for Information (RFI) is to seek broad public input on the research priorities to be included in the plan. NIDA staff and leadership will review and consider all comments as the Institute renews its Strategic Plan.


The mission of NIDA is to lead the nation in bringing the power of science to bear on drug abuse and addiction. NIDA fulfills this mission by supporting research to prevent and treat drug abuse and addiction and mitigate the impact of their consequences, including the spread of HIV/AIDS and other infectious diseases. NIDA-supported programs span basic, clinical, and translational sciences and incorporate genetics, epigenetics, neuroimaging (functional, biochemical, structural), social neuroscience, medication and behavioral therapy development, as well as prevention and health services research.

The current NIDA Strategic Plan was published in 2010. Since that time, there have been major advances in the science of drug abuse and addiction. Therefore the Institute has begun a planning process to develop a revitalized Strategic Plan for 2016–2020. NIDA seeks to harness the latest research technologies and apply them to the ever-evolving substance abuse landscape. Toward this goal, NIDA staff developed a draft set of strategic priorities and are seeking feedback to guide the development of NIDA’s Strategic Plan.

Information Requested

This RFI is intended to gather broad public input on the draft strategic priorities outlined below as well as general recommendations that will sustain recent advances and accelerate discovery in addiction research over the next five years. NIDA invites input from researchers in academia and industry, health care professionals, patient advocates and advocacy organizations, scientific or professional organizations, federal agencies, and other interested members of the public. Organizations are encouraged to submit a single response that reflects the views of their organization and membership as a whole.

Please provide your perspective on the following items as they relate to the draft strategic priorities outlined below. Your comments can include, but are not limited to:

  • Suggested changes or additions to the list of strategic priorities, including emerging research needs and future opportunities that should be considered in the plan
  • The scientific rationale for the changes or ideas proposed and the anticipated impact on advancing the science of drug abuse and addiction
  • Anticipated challenges that will need to be addressed to achieve these priorities
  • Appropriate benchmarks for gauging progress toward each recommended priority
  • Recommended measurable objectives associated with an individual priority

NIDA also welcomes your general comments, including those regarding the extent to which this plan will guide and encourage participation in drug abuse research.

Draft Strategic Priorities

Basic Neuroscience: Improve our understanding of the basic science of drug use, addiction, vulnerability to addiction, and recovery

  • Increase our knowledge of biological, behavioral, environmental, and developmental factors involved in risk and resilience for drug use and addiction
  • Integrating animal models, behavior, genetics, epigenetics, and other molecular biomarkers for drug abuse and addiction
  • Understand the developmental trajectory of addiction and individual heterogeneity
  • Improve our understanding of brain circuits related to drug abuse and addiction at the cellular, circuit, and connectome levels, including:
  • Normal development and function across the lifespan including mechanisms of reward, self-control, and conditioning
  • Drug effects on neuroplasticity, neural structure, and circuit function across the stages of addiction
  • Neurobiological correlates of recovery
  • Neural-glial, -immune, and neuroendocrine interactions
  • Better define the interactions between addiction and pain, including molecular, genetic, behavioral , and neural-circuit-related factors, to guide the development of alternate treatment strategies for pain patients
  • Improve our understanding of the interaction between addiction and co-occurring conditions
  • Elucidate the impact of mental health, HIV, HCV, pain, etc. on addiction;
  • Understand molecular mechanisms of latent HIV reservoirs in the brains of substance-abusing populations

Clinical and Translational Science: Support the development of new and better interventions and treatments that incorporate the diverse needs of individuals with Substance Use Disorders (SUDs)

  • Support the development of novel, evidence-based, targeted prevention and treatment interventions including social, behavioral, pharmacological, vaccines, and brain stimulation therapies (e.g., transcranial magnetic stimulation, direct current stimulation, etc.)
  • Accelerate the identification of promising targets and ligands to accelerate new drug discovery and development
  • Accelerate medications development for SUDs
  • Focused development efforts on:
    • Addictions without an FDA approved treatment
    • Detoxification
    • Overdose prevention or reversal
    • Accelerating neurobiological recovery
    • Addressing comorbidities (MH, HIV, HCV, pain)
  • Develop techniques to measure and improve patient compliance in clinical trials
  • Identify measures other than abstinence that can reliably assess SUD treatment outcomes Identify biomarkers of addiction, resilience, and recovery to enable personalized treatment

Public Health: Increase the public health impact of NIDA research and programs

  • Improve the understanding of factors that influence the integration of evidence-based research findings into healthcare policy and practice (implementation science)
  • Increase readiness to respond to emerging public health priorities (opioid overdose epidemic, potential consequences of marijuana legalization, changing healthcare landscape, emerging drug trends, etc.)
  • Increase strategic partnerships with the community (academia, pharma, biotech, healthcare organizations, policy makers, etc.) to enhance the dissemination of evidence-based research findings into policy and practice
  • Strengthen focus on bi-directional translational research

Science Infrastructure: Enhance the national research infrastructure to support advancements in science

  • Accelerate the development and utilization of advanced technologies (e.g. the President’s BRAIN Initiative), data repositories (e.g. Big Data to Knowledge (BD2K) initiative, and statistical models to spur innovative research
  • Improve training for the next generation of scientists
  • Increase effective engagement and training in multidisciplinary research (informatics, engineering, computer science, chemistry, mathematics, physics, etc.)
  • Increase the number of well-trained underrepresented scientists in the drug abuse and addiction field at all career levels
  • Improve mentoring of young scientists
  • Increase effective collaborations in research
  • Increase the transparency of research
  • Increase effective data and resource sharing (big data, biorepositories, transgenic/optogenetic tools, data standards, etc.)
  • Increase collaborations with other NIH Institutes and Centers (e.g. Collaborative Research on Addiction at NIH (CRAN)), Federal and State agencies, academic and industry partners, etc.
  • Identify and implement strategies to improve the reproducibility of pre-clinical research
  • Enable efficiency and lower the cost of clinical trials via innovative statistical models, data standards, leveraging technology (e.g. electronic health records) and partnerships, etc.
  • Develop and validate computational and systems-level analytics for integrating multi-dimensional data across the addiction trajectory

Unifying themes A number of unifying themes that will be addressed across each of the domains listed above include:

  • Promoting research that considers the impact of sex and gender on drug abuse and addiction
  • Addressing health disparities among underrepresented populations
  • Understanding the role of development across the life span
  • Addressing the treatment needs of adolescents and pregnant and post-partum women
  • Addressing the treatment and prevention needs related to common co-morbidities including HIV/AIDS

How to Submit a Response

To ensure consideration, responses must be received by January 30, 2015, and should be emailed to Respondents will not receive individualized feedback. All respondents are encouraged to sign up for NIDA E-News updates ( to receive information related to Institute activities, including updates on the development and release of the final Strategic Plan.

Responses to this RFI are voluntary. Please do not include any personally identifiable or other information that you do not wish to make public. Proprietary, classified, confidential, or sensitive information should not be included in responses. Comments submitted will be compiled for discussion and incorporated into the NIDA Strategic Plan as appropriate. Any personal identifiers (personal names, email addresses, etc.) will be removed when responses are compiled.

This RFI is for informational and planning purposes only and should not be construed as a solicitation or as an obligation on the part of the Federal Government in general, the NIH, or NIDA specifically. NIDA does not intend to make any awards based on responses to this RFI or pay for the preparation of any information submitted or for the Government’s use of such information.


Please direct all inquiries to:

Office of Science Policy and Communications
National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA)
Telephone: 301-443-6071