DISCA Program for Senior Researchers

Distinguished International Scientist Collaboration Awards (DISCA) and U.S. Distinguished International Scientist Collaboration Awards (USDISCA)

Through the Distinguished International Scientist Collaboration Award Program (“Program”), NIDA seeks to enhance international collaborative research on drug use and addiction-related consequences. Through the competitive DISCA and USDISCA,  senior researchers from other countries and NIDA-funded senior researchers apply to work together in the most suitable location for their joint research.

The Program allows participants to choose the travel option that works best for their research.

  • If the project would best be conducted within the United States, international drug use and addiction researchers should apply for the DISCA program to visit their U.S. partners.
  • If the project would best be conducted outside of the United States, NIDA-funded senior researchers should apply for the USDISCA program to visit their partner’s home country.

Successful candidates will be highly qualified researchers, and priority will be given to new collaborations. Applicants must propose an innovative collaboration that can produce outcomes—such as a new investigative finding, scientific publication, or research grant proposal—and falls within the NIDA research mission.

What Do the DISCA and USDISCA Awards Include?

DISCA and USDISCA awards provide a research exchange visit lasting at least four weeks, depending upon the project requirements, and a one-time stipend of up to US$8,000 to offset the cost of round-trip air travel and living expenses incurred during the research exchange. Visas and health insurance are the responsibility of the awardee.

Who is Eligible?

The requirements for applicants are:

  • The U.S. NIDA-funded senior researcher and the non-U.S. senior researcher must each have a:
    • Minimum of seven years’ experience in drug use and addiction research beyond the postdoctoral level.
    • Documented scientific record that includes peer-reviewed publications.
  • The U.S. NIDA-funded senior researcher must be a current NIDA grantee throughout the award period.
  • The non-U.S. senior researcher must be a citizen or permanent resident of a country other than the United States.

What Are the Requirements for the Research Exchange Visit?

The research exchange visit should be planned to be at least four weeks in length, focused on finishing a project that could not be completed without face-to-face consultation and completed within 12 months of the award announcement.

When Is the Application Deadline?

Application Deadline: Open  
Award Notification: Six weeks after submission

The U.S. senior researcher’s NIDA-funded grant must be active throughout the proposed collaboration period, and the exchange visit must be completed within 12 months of the award announcement.

What Materials Should I Use To Prepare My Application?

Applicants and their research partners should jointly complete the application form and assemble all supporting documents for submission to the NIDA International Program. Applicants for DISCA and USDISCA use the same application form and follow the same application instructions. The application materials include:

In addition, applicants must also submit:

Letter of Invitation

A formal letter of invitation from the host institution. The letter must be issued on the host institution’s letterhead and signed by the department chair or dean of the host institution. A signature from the collaborating researcher is not acceptable. The letter of invitation must:

  1. Describe the institutional resources available to support the research exchange visit (including, but not limited to, laboratory or office space, use of computers and software, biological specimens, supplies, and libraries)
  2. Outline the relationship between the research exchange visit and ongoing collaboration between the two scientists or institutions.

Confirmation Letter from U.S. institution, Program Sponsor, J-1 visa

For DISCA applications, the U.S. NIDA-funded senior researcher must obtain and submit a letter from his or her institution confirming the institution as a U.S. Department of State-designated sponsor authorized to issue Form DS-2019, Certificate of Eligibility for Exchange Visitor (J-1) Status. Non-U.S. researchers must obtain a J-1 visa to complete the short-term exchange visit in the United States.

How Should I Apply?

Complete applications and all supporting documents must be submitted electronically to the NIDA International Program at ip@nida.nih.gov.

For assistance, email the NIDA International Program at ip@nida.nih.gov.

Who Has Been a DISCA or a USDISCA Awardee and Collaborator?

2022Liying Ma
David Metzger, Ph.D.
University of Pennsylvania
2021Roy Otten
The Netherlands
Daniel Shaw, Ph.D.
University of Pittsburgh
2017David Newcombe
New Zealand
Eric D. Wish, Ph.D.
University of Maryland, College Park
2014Irma Kirtadze
Hendrée Jones, Ph.D.
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
2013Jiang Du
Yih-Ing Hser, Ph.D.
University of California, Los Angeles
Felix Kessler
George E. Woody, M.D.
University of Pennsylvania
Tony Szu-Hsien Lee
Marek C. Chawarski, Ph.D.
Yale University
2012Harrie Jonkman
The Netherlands
J. David Hawkins, Ph.D.
University of Washington
2010Kathleen T. Brady, M.D., Ph.D.
United States
Maree Teesson, Ph.D.
National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre
University of New South Wales
Hwei-Hsien Chen, Ph.D.
Athina Markou, Ph.D.
University of California, San Diego
Kenneth W. Griffin, Ph.D.
United States
Irina Pervova, Ph.D.
St. Petersburg State University
2009Dwayne D. Simpson, Ph.D.
United States
Ed Day, B.Ch.
National Centre for Mental Health - Birmingham
United Kingdom
Carlos Zubaran, Jr., M.D., Ph.D.
Linda B. Cottler, Ph.D., M.P.H.
Epidemiology and Prevention Research Group
Washington University, St. Louis
2008Octavio Campollo, M.D., Ph.D.
Fernando A. Wagner, Sc.D., M.P.H.
Center for the Study and Prevention of Drug Use
Morgan State University
Juan-Luis Recio, Ph.D.
Flavio Marsiglia, Ph.D.
Southwest Interdisciplinary Research Center
Arizona State University
2007Petri Hyytiä, Ph.D.
Gregory P. Mark, Ph.D.
Oregon Health & Science University
In Kyoon Lyoo, D.Sc., Ph.D.
South Korea
Perry F. Renshaw, M.D., Ph.D.
McLean Brain Imaging Center and Harvard Medical School
Hari S. Sharma, M.D., Ph.D.
Eugene A. Kiyatkin, M.D., Ph.D.
Behavioral Neuroscience Research Branch
NIDA Intramural Research Program
Meera Vaswani, Ph.D.
Nicholas Goeders, Ph.D.
Louisiana State University, Health Sciences Center - Shreveport
2006Thomas F. Babor, Ph.D.
United States
Robin Room, Ph.D.
Center for Social Research on Alcohol and Drugs
Stockholm University
Xiuwen Han, Ph.D.
Alexandros Makriyannis, Ph.D.
Center for Drug Discovery
Northeastern University
Raka Jain, Ph.D.
Michael H. Buamann, Ph.D.
Clinical Pharmacology and Therapeutics Research Branch
NIDA Intramural Research Program
Ronald E. See, Ph.D.
United States
Juan Canales, D.Phil.
Cavanilles Institute
University of Valencia
Tatiana P. Tsarouk, M.D., Ph.D.
Elaine Thompson, Ph.D.
Reconnecting Youth Prevention Research Program
University of Washington, Seattle
2005Luc Denory, Ph.D.
Toni Shippenberg, Ph.D.
Integrative Neuroscience Research Branch
NIDA Intramural Research Program
Pierre-Paul Rompre, Ph.D.
Roy A. Wise, Ph.D.
Behavioral Neuroscience Research Branch
NIDA Intramural Research Program
Min Zhao, M.D., Ph.D.
Clyde B. McCoy, Ph.D.
Miller School of Medicine
University of Miami
2004Helena M.T. Barros, M.D., Ph.D.
Klaus A. Miczek, Ph.D.
Tufts University
Ivan Berlin, M.D., Ph.D.
Lirio S. Covey, Ph.D.
Research Foundation for Mental Hygiene, Inc.
New York State Psychiatric Institute
Kazutaka Ikeda, Ph.D.
Athina Markou, Ph.D.
The Scripps Research Institute
Richard E. Isralowitz, Ph.D.
Shulamith Lala Straussner, D.S.W.
School of Social Work
New York University
2002Petra Exnerova, Ph.D.
Czech Republic
Thomas F. Hilton, Ph.D.
Services Research Branch
NIDA Division of Epidemiology, Services and Prevention Research
2000Anton Y. Bespalov, M.D., Ph.D.
Athina Markou, Ph.D.
The Scripps Research Institute
Christian G. Schütz, M.D., M.P.H.
John H. Krystal, M.D.
Yale School of Medicine
Tibor Wenger, M.D., Ph.D.
Billy R. Martin, Ph.D.
Virginia Commonwealth University