Director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, National Institutes of Health
As Director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), Dr. Nora Volkow’s work has been instrumental in demonstrating that drug addiction is a disease of the human brain. As a research psychiatrist and scientist, Dr. Volkow pioneered the use of brain imaging to investigate the toxic effects and addictive properties of abusable drugs. Her studies have documented changes in the dopamine system affecting, among others, the functions of frontal brain regions involved with motivation, drive, and pleasure in addiction. She has also made important contributions to the neurobiology of obesity, ADHD, and aging. Dr. Volkow spent most of her professional career at the Department of Energy’s Brookhaven National Laboratory (BNL) in Upton, New York, where she held several leadership positions including Director of Nuclear Medicine, Chairman of the Medical Department, and Associate Director for Life Sciences. She has received multiple awards, including being named a Samuel J. Heyman Service to America Medal (Sammies) finalist and inducted into the Children and Adults with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (CHADD) Hall of Fame. She was elected to membership in the Institute of Medicine in the National Academy of Sciences and received the International Prize from the French Institute of Health and Medical Research for her pioneering work in brain imaging and addiction science. She has been named one of Time Magazine’s “Top 100 People Who Shape Our World,” included as one of the 20 people to watch by Newsweek magazine, twice included in Washingtonian Magazine’s list of the “100 Most Powerful Women,” and named “Innovator of the Year” by U.S. News & World Report.