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Director's Page

NIDA Director, Dr. Nora D. Volkow

Nora D. Volkow, M.D., is Director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) at the National Institutes of Health. NIDA supports most of the world’s research on the health aspects of drug use and addiction.

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 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 and self-regulation in addiction. She has also made important contributions to the neurobiology of obesity, ADHD, and aging and to the imaging field. Read more.

Published Papers

Position Papers

  • Stigma and the Toll of Addiction, (The New England Journal of Medicine, April, 2020)
  • The role of the oral health community in addressing the opioid overdose epidemic (PubMED, August, 2018)
  • Overdose prevention through medical treatment of opioid use disorders (PubMED, August 2018)
  • Medications for opioid use disorder: bridging the gap in care (PubMED, November, 2017)
  • Medical Marijuana Laws and Cannabis Use, Intersections of Health and Policy, (PubMED, June, 2017)
  • Opioid Abuse in Chronic Pain - Misconceptions and Mitigation Strategies (PubMed, Mar 2016)
  • Opioids in Pregnancy (PubMed, Jan 2016)
  • Brain Disease Model of Addiction: Why is it so Controversial? (PubMed, Aug 2015)
  • Dramatic advances in addiction research, (Nature, June, 2015)
  • NOW vs LATER Brain Circuits: Implications for Obesity and Addiction (PubMed, Mar 2015)
  • Beliefs modulate the effects of drugs on the human brain, (PubMED, February, 2015)
  • Adverse Health Effects of Marijuana Use (PubMed, Jun 2014)


  • Effects of Cannabis Use on Human Behavior, Including Cognition, Motivation, and Psychosis: A Review (PubMed, Mar 2016)
  • The Brain on Drugs: From Reward to Addiction (PubMed, Aug 2015)
  • Addiction as a Systems Failure: Focus on Adolescence and Smoking (PubMed, Apr 2011)
  • Neurocircuitry of Addiction (PubMed, Jan 2010)
  • The Neural Basis of Addiction: A Pathology of Motivation and Choice  (PubMed, Aug 2005)
  • Drug Addiction and its Underlying Neurobiological Basis: Neuroimaging Evidence for the Involvement of the Frontal Cortex (PubMed, Oct 2002)


  • Functional Connectivity and Brain Activation: A Synergistic Approach (PubMed, Oct 2014)
  • Obesity and Addiction: Neurobiological Overlaps (PubMed, Jan 2013)
  • Motivation Deficit in ADHD is Associated with Dysfunction of the Dopamine Reward Pathway (PubMed, Nov 2011)
  • How Can Drug Addiction Help Us Understand Obesity? (PubMed, May 2005)
  • Association of Dopamine Transporter Reduction with Psychomotor Impairment in Methamphetamine Abusers (PubMed, Mar 2001)
  • Brain Dopamine and Obesity (PubMed, Feb 2001)
  • Addiction, A Disease of Compulsion and Drive: Involvement of the Orbitofrontal Cortex (PubMed, Mar 2000)
  • Decreased Striatal Dopaminergic Responsiveness in Detoxified Cocaine-dependent Subjects (PubMed, Apr1997)
  • Decreased Dopamine-D(2) Receptor Availability is Associated with Reduced Frontal Metabolism in Cocaine Abusers (PubMed, Jun 1993)
  • Graphical Analysis of Reversible Radioligand Binding from Time Activity Measurements Applied to [N-C-11-methyl]-(-)-cocaine PET Studies in Human Subjects (PubMed, Sep 1990)

Get this Publication

Dr. Nora Volkow: Remarks and Video Highlights

APA 2015 meeting

  • Marijuana as a Cure for Opioid Use? Nation's Top Drug Scientist Says She's Skeptical, March 2019
  • Meet the Woman Leading the Nation's War on Addiction, October 2018
  • Aspen Ideas Festival 2018: Shining Light on Less Visible Prescription Drug Epidemics, June 2018
  • Dr. Nora Volkow on Addiction: A Disease of Free Will, May 2015
  • TEDMED, January 2015
    Why do our brains get addicted?
  • The World Science Festival, April 2014
    The Moth: The Brain's Addiction - Nora Volkow
  • CBS 60 Minutes, April 2012
    Hooked: Why Bad Habits Are Hard to Break 
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