Abtsract of NIH Funded Research Program
We plan to establish
a multidisciplinary research and training program focusing on khat,
a psychostimulant plant widely used in Africa and the Middle East
associated with significant neurobehavioral and health effects.
We will use this exploratory/developmental grant to achieve two
primary goals. The first is to develop collaborative relationships
and provide needed capacity-building resources that will include
a series of research training workshops, establishing an Institutional
Review Board, conducting relevant training on ethical standards
of research, and organizing semi-annual meetings to develop future
programmatic research. The second goal is to complete preliminary
research to determine cognitive, affective, and biobehavioral consequences
of long-term khat use. Khat users and nonusers will be compared
on their performance on tests of response inhibition, attention,
concentration, memory, and hormonal and cardiovascular responses
to acute stress. We will include two samples of khat users, those
who use khat alone and those who use khat and tobacco together.
The purpose will be to examine the influence of the concurrent use
of both substances. The program will take advantage of a unique
population and setting by conducting this work in Yemen. The design
of the preliminary research is geared towards maximizing the potential
for advancing khat-related research in this and surrounding countries,
and will facilitate later development of research that will guide
efforts to develop methods to reduce the harm caused by khat and
tobacco use. The combination of measures of the stress response
and cognitive functioning will provide novel information on the
impact of khat use on important behavioral and neurobiological functions.
We have assembled a multidisciplinary, international team with distinguished
records and experience in all relevant topics. Both the training
and research arms of the program will emphasize this breadth of
expertise. This program will form a core part of our conceptualization
of future research initiatives to further identify neurobehavioral
effects of khat an concurrent tobacco use and develop means for
effective intervention strategies.
PUBLIC HEALTH RELEVANCE: This program addresses the growing use
of khat and its harmful effects on health in many countries in Africa
and the Middle East and among immigrant communities in Western Europe
and North America. The program will advance our knowledge of the
short and long-term effects of khat use and help guide efforts to
develop future research programs related to prevention and treatment
of khat and tobacco use. Combating this problem will have significant
benefits on the health conditions in many countries in the world.
The program will also be significant in fostering scientific and
research capacity-building efforts in Yemen.