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IN THE SPOTLIGHT: Maria Moreira

 

Maria Moreira
Drug-related research information officer (EMCDDA)

 

‘We can take the best each country has to offer’


It took a lot of prior consultation, but finally the day has almost arrived. In mid-September 2015 ERANID’s First Joint Call will open. Maria Moreira, who works at the EMCDDA, the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction, has high expectations. ‘We have gone for a challenging theme’, she says. ‘“Understanding transitions in pathways of drug use” requires a multidisciplinary approach. I would expect researchers to tackle the subject in an innovative way.’

 


Working at the EMCDDA as quality officer and support to the EMCDDA scientific committee, Moreira has many years’ experience of European collaboration. The EMCDDA is one of the EU’s decentralised agencies and provides factual overviews of drug problems and drug issues. ‘We do not make direct policy recommendations, but we do facilitate policy and practice action by highlighting all kinds of trends and studies that give policymakers, practitioners and professionals up-to-date evidence-based information to use in their work’, says Moreira. Many policy documents and scientific publications therefore refer to EMCDDA reports.

 

First Joint Call
The theme chosen for the First Joint Call, ‘Understanding transitions in pathways of drug use’, is ‘very important’ and ‘highly relevant’, according to Moreira. She believes it will stimulate innovative multidisciplinary research. ‘This call encourages “other perspectives” so that innovative ways of looking at these transitions can be found. Why, when, how and in what context do these transitions take place, or not. And the approach may involve mixed research methods.’ New international collaborative relationships may emerge between research groups, and smaller groups may seize the opportunity. ‘It is to be hoped that the call will encourage them to team up with other groups.’

 

Research cycle
To Moreira, ERANID is a step towards a future in which a more systematic mechanism may emerge at international level for defining research priorities, sharing information and finding funding opportunities for research into illicit drugs. ‘The field of illicit drugs is a relatively small one. We need to strengthen our research community. A lot of progress has been made, but there is still a need for a mechanism to further promote a cycle, in which research results are even more widely disseminated, lead to new priorities being identified and the funding of new research – as already happens in so many other research areas.’ ERANID could provide a good basis for this, particularly if more countries were to join the venture.

 

Synergy
Another point requiring attention, Moreira suggests, is the opportunity for further promoting collaboration between the field of illicit drug research and related research areas, such as the fields of alcohol and tobacco or, more broadly, mental health and wellbeing or justice and criminal investigation. This is one of the main objectives behind the upcoming Lisbon Addictions 2015 conference, jointly organised by SICAD, Addiction, EMCDDA and ISAJE, alongside which ERANID will hold the launching event for its first research joint call on illicit drugs. ‘In my opinion that broader collaboration may be one of the scientific challenges for the future’, says Moreira. ‘We may need to build more synergy. Not only because the current constraints on research funding but also because it enhances drug research and makes it more interesting and more diverse.’ In the meantime the EMCDDA will remain closely involved with ERANID. ‘Oh yes, it’s exciting to see it all happen.’