Tuesday, April 01, 2008

What is so bad about brain doping? Apparently, NIH thinks something is.


Recently, there has been a lot of talk around the web about brain doping ... that is, using some sort of drug to enhance intelligence or intellectual performance in some way. For example see

A key question is - is brain doping bad? I am not so sure. However, NIH apparently thinks otherwise. NIH has just announced the formation of the World Anti Brain Doping Authority in conjunction with the ever so annoying World Anti Doping Authority. For more information see http://wabda.org and I attach the announcement below. Apparently, they are working on making a list of banned drugs and punishment for misuse for anyone funded by NIH. I have also heard they will be doing drug testing to new grant awardees. Lovely.

What is funny is this so fits in with the new top down style at the NIH. Forget about the individual scientist and the need for independence and creativity. There are so many rules about everything now that I think I will just seek out funds from other agencies.

See also other bloggers writing about this:
Here is the announcement:

NIH Announces New Initiatives to Fight the Use of Brain Enhancing Drugs by Scientists

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) today announced three new initiatives to fight the use of brain enhancing drugs by scientists. The new initiatives are (1) the creation of the NIH Anti-Brain Doping Advisory Group (NABDAG), a new trans-NIH committee, (2) a collaboration with the World Anti-Doping Authority (WADA) and the European Commission to create the World Anti-Brain Doping Authority (WABDA) and (3) the adoption by the NIH of the World Anti-Brain Doping Code – a set of regulations on the use of brain enhancing drugs among scientists.

"These new initiatives are designed to level the playing field among scientist in terms of intellectual activities," said NIH Director Elias A. Zerhouni, M.D. "These three activities are designed to get NIH ahead of the curve in terms of performance enhancing drug use among scientists."

NABDAG will serve to coordinate activities across different NIH agencies in terms of regulating the use of brain enhancing drugs. The trans-NIH group will be directed by internationally renowned doping authority Jonathan Davis, Ph.D., current director of research at WADA.

"The priority of NABDAG will be to seek out input from the scientific community and from within NIH," Davis said. "The availability of tremendous expertise and the remarkable infrastructure at NIH will make our activities more robust and will allow us to tackle questions about brain doping that were not possible to address in the past. For example, new testing procedures will need to be developed and we will be able to bring the entire NIH infrastructure to this task."

While “doping” is now accepted as a problem among athletes, it is less widely known that so-celled “brain doping” has been affecting the competitive balance in scientific research as well. It is for this reason that NIH is collaborating with the World Anti-Doping Authority (WADA), which has led the fight against doping in athletics, to create the World Anti Brain Doping Authority (WABDA). “Because brain doping is not just an American problem,” said Richard Pound, the current Director of WADA and acting Director of WABDA until a permanent head can be found, “we are working with the European Union’s research funding agency, the European Commission Research, to make sure WABDA is effective.

NABDAG will be established within the NIH Office of Intramural Research and administered by the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH). Additional support for the center will come from the NIH Office of the Director, the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) and the Center for Scientific Review (CSR). The research activities of NABDAG will take place on the NIH Bethesda campus. An additional focus of NABDAG will be to provide training opportunities for students and established scientists from developing countries and from minority groups in the United States.

Together with WABDA, NABDAG will work to develop the international rules for the use of performance enhancing drugs among scientists as well as testing and punishment procedures. Most importantly they will administer the World Anti Brain-Doping Code, a set of uniform anti-brain doping rules. The NIH and European Commission have formally adopted this Code for the conduct of all scientists which receive funding in any form (intramural or extramural) from these agencies. The Code includes regulations on which drugs are prohibited, what the recommended testing procedures should be, and what the punishments should be for positive tests. More information on the WABDA Code can be found at http://wabda.org/. We note that the implementation will include testing of all NIH funded scientists both at the time they receive funding as well as at random times during the course of working on an NIH funded project. Testing will also be implemented at all NIH-funded or NIH-hosted events such as conferences and workshops and at grant review panels.

NIMH, NIDA, and CSR are among the 27 institutes and centers at the NIH, an agency of the Department of Health and Human Services. The NIMH mission is to reduce the burden of mental and behavioral disorders through research on mind, brain, and behavior. More information is available at the NIMH website http://www.nimh.nih.gov. The National Institute on Drug Abuse is a component of the National Institutes of Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. NIDA supports most of the world's research on the health aspects of drug abuse and addiction. The Institute carries out a large variety of programs to ensure the rapid dissemination of research information to inform policy and improve practice. Fact sheets on the health effects of drugs of abuse and further information on NIDA research can be found on the NIDA web site at http://www.drugabuse.gov. The Center for Scientific Review organizes the peer review groups that evaluate the majority of grant applications submitted to the National Institutes of Health. CSR recruits about 18,000 outside scientific experts each year for its review groups. CSR also receives all NIH and many Public Health Service grant applications — about 80,000 a year — and assigns them to the appropriate NIH Institutes and Centers and PHS agencies. CSR’s primary goal is to see that NIH applications receive fair, independent, expert, and timely reviews that are free from inappropriate influences so NIH can fund the most promising research. For more information, visit http://www.csr.nih.gov.

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) — The Nation's Medical Research Agency — includes 27 Institutes and Centers and is a component of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. It is the primary federal agency for conducting and supporting basic, clinical and translational medical research, and it investigates the causes, treatments, and cures for both common and rare diseases. For more information about NIH and its programs, visit www.nih.gov.


  1. Nice one! who knows, maybe one day...

  2. Jonathan, time to get clean up your act and get straight. Seeking funding from other sources isn’t the way to address your "problem". There are some excellent 12 step programs I can recommend for you (although not from personal experience, my brilliance is natural).

  3. **giggle**

    Hurry, get W. in for an emergency intravenous infusion!

    GW: "I'm so high right now I'm 'bout to solve this economic crisis."

  4. Jonathan, this was almost a little too good...you had a local newspaper reporter fooled, anyway. Luckily she wasn't planning to write a story on it.

  5. Well, I saw some hits from a few Newspapers ... looks like more than one was looking into it ...

  6. I am on the WABDA supervisory committee and you should all be aware that those who post comments are going to be carefully scrutinized in the future

  7. Join the movement against intellectual doping. See www.academicoath.com


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