From the President's Desk
By Ellen Walker, PhD
Welcome to Spring! This is my first opportunity to personally express my gratitude to you all for electing me as the 45th president of Div. 28. When I see the list of our Past Presidents, I know I have some big shoes to fill but I am excited by the challenge. Div. 28, established in 1966, has a long history of serving psychologists interested in drugs and behavior. My graduate advisor (James Woods [1983-84]) and postdoctoral advisors (Alice Young [2000-01] and Linda Dykstra [1988-89]) all served as division presidents and I feel a sense of responsibility to maintain a longstanding tradition of excellence in leadership so perhaps my trainees will have the opportunity someday to give back to Div. 28 and APA. Although I was trained as a psychologist, I teach and do my research at Temple University's School of Pharmacy School. I know many of my colleagues, although trained as psychologists, find themselves in medical schools within research or clinical departments, in neuroscience or biology departments, or perhaps in intermural programs focusing medication development. These are excellent partnerships but Div. 28 keeps us in touch with our roots and why we got started in our field in the first place: our fascination with the effects of drugs on behavior. Therefore, I am also grateful to Div. 28 for the opportunity to stay in touch with my psychology roots.
The themes of this first column and the trajectory of Div. 28 activities are collaborations. Although as scientists and educators we have been collaborating for years, recently there has been a push to institutionalize and encourage further partnerships ideally to spur new ideas and practically to conserve resources. The APA is no different. The 2014 APA Conference in Washington, DC is the inaugural year for the implementation of more collaborative programming across the divisions of APA to highlight the unique role of APA as a unifying force in psychology. A pool of hours was specifically put aside for collaborative and innovative programming that spanned at least two divisions. APA past presidents initiated this idea that was approved by APA's Council of Representatives and implemented by the Board of Convention Affairs. Thanks to Div. 28 member Suzette Evans for serving on the Board of Convention Affairs and assisting us with this first year of programming. The cross-divisional proposals should have broad appeal on a current and timely topic, be original and innovative, use interactive and creative presentation formats, and have a scientific basis. Our first collaborative programming symposium at the 2014 APA Convention led by Div. 28 member and past President Alan Budney is a perfect example: “Considering Cannabis? Potential Public Health Implications of Marijuana Legalization.” This symposium is a collaborative effort between our Div. 28 and Divs. 50 (Addiction Psychology), and 40 (Clinical Neuropsychology) and very nicely fits the theme of “Controversies and Difficult Dialogues in Psychology” selected by all the division program chairs at a meeting in early 2013. Finally, at the 2014 APA Convention, our Div. 28 is participating in mentoring and networking travel award program with Divs. 3 (Experimental Psychology), 6 (Behavioral Neuroscience & Comparative Psychology), and the APA Committee on Animal Research and Ethics (CARE) to provide advanced graduate students and scientists in post-doctoral training to participate in professional development activities designed to help them develop: meaningful contacts with other early career psychologists, senior scientists, and funding agency officials; navigate the increasingly diverse professional settings that they will encounter in their research careers; and identify with APA as a professional home.
Another shared effort in recent years has been the Collaborative Perspectives in Addiction mid-year 28/50 conference spearheaded by our past-President Tony Liguori and the past-President and President of Div. 50, Sara Jo Nixon and John Kelly, respectively. Together with Program Chairs Katie Witkiewitz and Jennifer Buckman, these individuals brought together a focused group of 100 scientists and clinicians to bridge the gap between research-based findings in psychopharmacology and clinical science with actual clinical practice. Our Keynote Speakers were Michael Nader from Wake Forest University (Nonhuman primate models of cocaine abuse: How basic science research can inform policy makers) and Sandra Brown from the University of San Diego (Adolescent addiction: New directions for a maturing science). All the presentations, symposia, and posters with the integration and discussions among attendees that followed was a stellar testament of how two divisions can optimize their common interests to move our field forward and inspire new connections and research ideas.
On a larger scale, many member of our division are attentively watching the NIH functional integration of the addiction research portfolios. Based on another much larger NIH functional integration from 2004 of interest to Div. 28 members, ‘The Neuroscience Blueprint,' this new program is called ‘Collaborative Research on Addiction at NIH (CRAN)'. The goal is to provide a collaborative framework to enable the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), and the National Cancer Institute (NCI) to integrate resources and expertise to advance substance use, abuse, and addiction research and public health consequences. Indeed, members of Divs. 28 and 50 met with key members of NIAAA and NIDA at the Collaborative Perspectives on Addiction meeting in Atlanta to discuss the implications of this integration of the addiction research portfolio and to ask questions. Again, the focus is on collaborations and integration. Currently, a Program Announcement to add research training positions to current T32 grant programs and a couple of RFAs have been announced. I would encourage members stay attentive to these ongoing changes and to think about ways to leverage this new initiative to either foster new collaborative research projects or bolster your existing partnerships.
Finally, no one can accomplish much without a strong foundation and an excellent team moving forward. I would like to personally thank Tony Liguori for his outstanding commitment to Div. 28, his initiative to increase programming hours of interest to the membership via the implantation of a midyear collaborative meeting, and to his continued outreach to the Early Career Psychologists. As most members are aware, it takes a village to keep Div. 28 moving forward especially within the larger organization of APA. I am really happy to be working with your 2014 division Officers William Stoops (President-Elect), Tony Liguori (Past President), John Grabowski (Council Representative), and Matthew Johnson, Cynthia Crawford, and Katie Saulgiver (Members-at-Large). We all are supported by other members of our Executive Committee including Kelly Dunn (Secretary), Jane Acri (Treasurer), Mikhail (Micky) Koffarnus (Newsletter Editor/Website Contact), Sharon Walsh (Awards Officer), Dustin Stairs (Membership Officer), Stephen Heishman (Fellow Chair), and Ron Wood (Electronic Communication Officer). The Executive Committee also consists of a number of people that keep us connected and informed as Liaisons and Monitors to other divisions or branches within the APA. These colleagues include our Representatives to the Women's Network (Carmela Reichel), Early Career Psychologists (Adriana Falco, Diann Gaalema), Student Representative (Alexa Lopez) and Liaisons to Divs. 50 (Linda Sobell), 55 (M. Marlyne Kilbey), the Science Directorate (Rick Bevins), and International Affairs (Ming Li). Finally, the folks doing all the leg work to put our programming together include Richard Allen (2014 Convention Program Chair), Matthew Weaver (2015 Program Chair), and Katie Witkiewitz (2014 Collaborative Perspectives on Addiction Program Chair). These colleagues have already been working hard for you and I look forward to tapping into their ideas and efforts to move the Div. 28 forward in the coming year.
In closing, we have some excellent programming within Div. 28, across divisions, and in collaboration with NIDA at this year's 2014 APA Convention in Washington, DC as cited elsewhere in this newsletter. Please come participate; we would love to reconnect! Also, I would encourage you to maintain your membership, renew if your membership as lapsed, or join if you are new to Div. 28 Psychopharmacology and Substance Abuse. Further, you should suggest membership to your students and post-doctoral trainees. APA provides an extraordinary number of training and networking opportunities for young psychological scientists and provides an excellent platform for people interested in teaching and promoting psychology at their institutions. Our organization is only as strong as our membership. See you in Washington and I look forward to collaborating!