One of the nation’s foremost experts on the neurological effects of drug addiction will be a keynote presenter at the first National Rx Drug Abuse Summit next April.
Dr. Nora D. Volkow, director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) at the National Institutes of Health, has conducted extensive research that demonstrates drug addiction is a disease of the human brain – not merely a criminal problem caused by poor choices – and thus much more difficult to overcome.
In 2007, Dr. Volkow one named to Time magazine’s list of the top 100 women and men “whose power, talent or moral example is transforming the world.”
“We are excited that Dr. Volkow will share her expertise during the Summit,” said Karen Kelly, president/CEO of Operation UNITE (Unlawful Narcotics Investigations, Treatment and Education), a Kentucky-based organization coordinating the event. “She is a highly-regarded professional whose work has engaged the entire health care system to seek appropriate responses and effective treatments for addiction.”
The Summit, which will be held in Florida April 10-12, 2012, is intended to foster better understanding and cooperation between all groups – state and national leaders, law enforcement officials, medical professionals, community advocates, treatment experts, educators, private industry leaders, and others – who are finding success in battling this nationwide epidemic.
“Diversion of prescription medications from their legitimate medical uses impacts every American, not only through the devastating personal toll exacted on individuals and their families, but on an economic level as well,” Kelly stated. “This Summit encourages proactive dialogue with national experts to identify data-driven policies and solutions.”
As a research psychiatrist and scientist, Dr. Volkow pioneered the use of brain imaging to investigate the toxic effects of drugs and their addictive properties. Her studies have documented changes in the dopamine system affecting the actions of frontal brain regions involved with motivation, drive, and pleasure and the decline of brain dopamine function with age.
Dr. Volkow received her medical degree from the National University of Mexico and spent most of her professional career at the U.S. 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 served as NIDA’s director since 2003.