2013 Distinguished Scientist Award

Presented to Nora Volkow, MD

Each year the Child Mind Institute’s Scientific Research Council selects an exceptional researcher for the Child Mind Institute Distinguished Scientist Award, in recognition of an outstanding contribution to child and adolescent psychiatry, psychology or developmental neuroscience. The award honors contributions either to clinical science or basic science. The award carries a prize of $25,000 and is presented at the Child Mind Institute’s Annual Child Advocacy Award Dinner. The award recipient, along with several other scientists selected because they have been influenced by recipient’s work, are featured presenters at our next On the Shoulders of Giants scientific symposium.

Nora Volkow, MD, is the director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse. Dr. 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 was born in Mexico, attended the Modern American School and earned her medical degree from the National University of Mexico in Mexico City, where she received the Robins Award for best medical student of her generation. Her psychiatric residency was at New York University, where she earned the Laughlin Fellowship Award as one of the 10 Outstanding Psychiatric Residents in the USA.

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.

Dr. Volkow has published more than 530 peer-reviewed articles and has written more than 80 book chapters and non-peer-reviewed manuscripts. She has also edited three books on neuroimaging for mental and addictive disorders.

During her professional career, Dr. Volkow has been the recipient of multiple awards, including her selection for membership in the Institute of Medicine in the National Academy of Sciences and the International Prize from the French Institute of Health and Medical Research for her pioneering work in brain imaging and addiction science. She was recently named one of TIME magazine’s “Top 100 People Who Shape Our World” and was included as one of the 20 people to watch by Newsweek magazine in its “Who’s Next in 2007?” feature. She was also included in Washingtonian magazine’s 2009 list of the “100 Most Powerful Women” and named “Innovator of the Year” by U.S. News & World Report in 2000.