Drawing upon the considerable resources and expertise available at the University of Maryland, CESAR will work with NIDA to create the Coordinating Center for the National Early Warning System (NEWS). NEWS will be the first national public health surveillance system with the ability to identify emerging drugs, especially new synthetic drugs and their metabolites. NEWS will generate critically needed information about drugs and their public health consequences so that rapid, informed, and effective public health responses can be developed. During the 5-year project, CESAR will work with NIDA to: 1) select and convene the Advisory Board;2) create a NEWS Network of scientists, public health experts, law enforcement representatives, and others who will become part of a virtual community for sharing information and assisting with local research;3) conduct a national drug scan utilizing both traditional and innovative sources, including social media and web scans;4) establish a system of harmonized community indicators for tracking drug trends and emerging drugs nationally and in 12 Sentinel Sites;5) establish a Rapid Response Team (RRT) to conduct local studies of emerging drugs in up to 3 HotSpots per year;and 6) disseminate NEWS Alerts and annual reports through multiple mechanisms, including the virtual community and a NEWS web site. Other major innovations include initiating a partnership with the American Association of Poison Control Centers to link researchers and practitioners to identify emerging drugs. In addition, university information scientists will adapt their state-of-the-art methodologies for analyzing internet traffic to track and predict the emergence of new drugs.
Staff at the University of Maryland will establish a NEWS Coordinating Center that will create the first national public health surveillance system in the US that can respond quickly to potential outbreaks of synthetic and other drugs. Key NEWS activities will include: developing new methods for scanning social media and the internet for emerging drugs/trends across the US;collecting and monitoring a clearly defined set of community indicators for a core set of 12 sentinel sites;and conducting local ethnographic studies of drug HotSpots identified through the national scan. NEWS information and data will be shared through multiple mechanisms, including a virtual community of scientists and practitioners, a NEWS website, and social media.