2022-2026 NIDA Strategic Plan
Scientific Stewardship Priorities

Scientific stewardship priorities describe how NIDA, as a federal agency, is accountable for the investment of public funds it receives. The Institute will continue to support a diverse research portfolio, the advancement of a diverse workforce, and rigor and reproducibility in the science we support. In addition, collaborations with public and private partners and effective communications strategies will enable NIDA research to inform policy and improve practice. 

Setting NIDA Research Priorities 

NIDA supports a diverse portfolio encompassing basic, translational, clinical, epidemiological, policy, and systems-level research. In each of these domains, NIDA balances investigator-initiated research—allowing the Institute to capitalize on the most meritorious scientific ideas—with targeted research support to address emerging public health needs, take advantage of new scientific opportunities, and address key research gaps. NIDA research priorities are established in accordance with NIH and Administration goals and with input from its leadership and staff, the National Advisory Council on Drug Abuse, the extramural research community, patients and families, and other public and private partners. 

Fostering Collaboration with Public and Private Partners

Addiction science can achieve maximum public health impact only through strong, strategic collaborations. NIDA has established effective partnerships with diverse stakeholders, including scientists from disparate fields, pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies, health care providers and payors, public health and community organizations, policymakers at all levels of government, people with lived experience of addiction, and others. NIDA works closely with the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) on a range of issues, including development of the National Drug Control Strategy and Methamphetamine Response Plan. NIDA has also worked with ONDCP, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), and FDA on a legislative proposal to facilitate obtaining a DEA Schedule I research registration, which, if adopted, would make it easier to conduct research on controlled substances. 

NIDA has additional extensive collaborations across the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). In addition to co-sponsoring the long-term PATH study, NIDA works with the FDA to explore opportunities to advance medical product development. NIDA’s HEALing Communities Study is a close partnership between NIDA and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, which helps ensure that research is optimally poised to impact service delivery in order to reduce the impact of the opioid crisis in hard-hit areas. NIDA consults with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to identify evidence gaps in which research could inform coverage decisions, with priorities to build the evidence base on emergency department-focused strategies, non-pharmacological treatments, and other interventions for improving OUD care. Other partnerships include collaborations to improve the legal system response to people with SUD; community partnerships to enhance prevention and treatment; pharmaceutical industry partnerships to develop novel pharmacotherapies and devices; and collaborations among researchers, medical and treatment providers, patients, and NIH staff to develop, evaluate, and implement new interventions. 

NIDA also recognizes that the problems associated with substance use know no boundaries and that every nation is affected by them. NIDA strengthens and stimulates international addiction research networks through binational agreements; collaborations with intergovernmental organizations, including the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime and the World Health Organization; and collaborations with international civil society organizations representing researchers, practitioners, and others. NIDA is committed to bolstering these partnerships and exploring new ones to ameliorate the impacts of substance use on individuals, families, and society.

Communicating Research to Inform Policy and Practice 

Communications with diverse audiences may improve the prevention and treatment of SUDs by enhancing public awareness about the causes of drug use and addiction and how they affect individuals and communities, emerging drug threats, vulnerable populations such as pregnant women and adolescents, and evidence-based interventions. Indeed, effective communications are essential to helping individuals, policymakers, and practitioners make evidence-based decisions. Leveraging traditional media and social media, in particular, can help change conversations to help people better understand drugs and addiction, and help alleviate the stigma that impedes efforts to improve health and well-being. Building trust and receptivity to accurate messaging is essential for the widespread adoption of research-based health guidance. NIDA reaches its global audience through tailored public-facing communications and by working with journalists, partners, and other national and community organizations with the ability to disseminate evidence-based messages broadly.