The Scientific Management Review Board Process

The Scientific Management Review Board (SMRB) was established under the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Reform Act of 2006 to advise the NIH Director and other appropriate officials on the use of certain organizational authorities reaffirmed under the same act.

At the inaugural SMRB meeting on April 27-28, 2009, Board members unanimously agreed to convene the Substance Use, Abuse, and Addiction (SUAA) Working Group to conduct a thorough analysis of the organizational structure of SUAA research at NIH and to evaluate a potential merger of the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) and the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA).

The SUAA Working Group considered scientific opportunities, public health needs, and new research technologies; SUAA research under the existing NIH structure; and criteria for contemplating, strategies for implementing, and metrics and methodologies for evaluating changes in the organization and management of SUAA research at NIH. Experts and stakeholders were solicited for input on SUAA research at NIH, public health needs in SUAA research, the science of SUAA research, and options for organizational change in SUAA research at NIH.

At its meeting on September 15, 2010, the SMRB agreed that some form of reorganization was required in order to effectively capitalize upon existing and potential synergies, address scientific opportunities, meet public-health needs, and train the next generation of investigators. The SMRB also endorsed the conclusion that such a re-organization should encompass all addiction-related research within the NIH and not just the programs of NIDA and NIAAA. A majority of the Board voted to recommend to the NIH director the establishment of a new institute for substance use, abuse, and addiction-related research and the dissolution of NIAAA and NIDA (12 favored; 3 opposed; 1 abstained).

NIH Carefully Considers the Input of the SMRB

After careful consideration of the SMRB report and evaluation of numerous additional internal analyses, NIH elected to functionally integrate addiction research across the various institutes using a model similar to the Neuroscience Blueprint.

On November 16, 2012, Dr. Collins released a formal statement which announced, “After rigorous review and extensive consultation with stakeholders, I have concluded that it is more appropriate for NIH to pursue functional integration, rather than major structural reorganization, to advance substance use, abuse, and addiction-related research. To that end, the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) and the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) will retain their institutional identities, while strengthening their ongoing efforts to work more closely with each other and with related research programs at other institutes and centers.”

As such, CRAN was formed in early 2013 and is under the leadership of NIAAA, NIDA, and NCI, progressing in its mission to support dynamic and innovative substance use, abuse and health outcome-oriented science.