WASHINGTON — The American Medical Association (AMA) presented Dr. Nora D. Volkow, M.D., director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), with the Dr. Nathan Davis Award for Outstanding Government Service.

At NIDA – a component of the National Institutes of Health that supports research on the health aspects of drug abuse and addiction – Dr. Volkow has led groundbreaking research showing how brain circuits controlling essential functions such as reward, motivation, memory and inhibition play critical roles in drug addiction. As a research psychiatrist and scientist, she has documented changes in the dopamine system affecting the functions of frontal brain regions involved with motivation, drive and pleasure in addiction.

In addition to her pioneering discoveries on addiction as a brain disorder, Dr. Volkow has fought to combat the stigma associated with substance use disorder. This has included ensuring that physicians and other health care providers have easy access to science-based information and clinical resources to address substance use disorder via NIDAMED, an online portal maintained on the NIDA website.

“Described by the New York Times as ‘A General in the Drug War,’ Dr. Volkow’s pioneering work as the nation’s leading scientist on drug addiction has already translated into effective strategies to prevent and treat substance use disorders,” said AMA Board Chair Jesse M. Ehrenfeld, M.D., MPH. “She has worked tirelessly to fight the stigma of substance use disorders, and thanks to her leadership, we are in a far better position today to combat complex public health emergencies like the challenging opioid crisis.”

Dr. Volkow is one of eight honorees chosen this year to receive the Dr. Nathan Davis Award for Outstanding Government Service. The award, named after the founding father of the AMA, recognizes elected and career officials in federal, state or municipal service whose outstanding contributions have promoted the art and science of medicine and the betterment of public health.

Born in Mexico City, Dr. Volkow is an alumnus of the National University of Mexico in Mexico City. The AMA presented Dr. Volkow with the Dr. Nathan Davis Award last night at a ceremony in Washington, D.C. as part of the AMA’s National Advocacy Conference.

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