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Biography of Wilson Compton, MD, MPE

Wilson M. Compton, M.D., M.P.E.Wilson M. Compton, M.D., M.P.E.
Deputy Director, National Institute on Drug Abuse.

Wilson M. Compton, M.D., M.P.E. is Deputy Director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) of the National Institutes of Health.  NIDA supports most of the world’s research on the health aspects of drug abuse and addiction related to preventing drug abuse, treating addiction and addressing the serious health consequences of drug abuse, including related HIV/AIDS and other health conditions.  In his current role, Dr. Compton’s responsibilities include providing scientific leadership in the development, implementation, and management of NIDA’s research portfolio and working with the Director to support and conduct research.

Prior to his current appointment, Dr. Compton served as the Director of NIDA’s Division of Epidemiology, Services and Prevention Research from 2002 until 2013. In this leadership role, he oversaw the scientific direction of a complex public health research program of national and international scope addressing: 1) the extent and spread of drug abuse, 2) how to prevent drug abuse, and 3) how to implement drug abuse prevention and treatment services as effectively as possible. Of note, he led the development of the Population Assessment of Tobacco and Health (PATH), a large scale longitudinal population study with 45,971 study subjects ages 12 and older to assess the impact of new tobacco regulations in the United States.  This project is jointly sponsored by NIDA and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration includes prospective data collection, using both surveys and biological assessments of tobacco exposures, risk factors and health outcomes.

Before joining NIDA, Dr. Compton was Associate Professor of Psychiatry and Director of the Master in Psychiatric Epidemiology Program at Washington University in Saint Louis as well as Medical Director of Addiction Services at the Barnes-Jewish Hospital in Saint Louis.  Dr. Compton received his undergraduate education from Amherst College. He attended medical school and completed his residency training in psychiatry at Washington University. 

During his career, Dr. Compton has achieved multiple scientific accomplishments: he was selected to serve as a member of the DSM-5 Revision Task Force; is the author of more than 150 articles and chapters including widely-cited papers drawing attention to prescription drug abuse problems in the U.S.; and is an invited speaker at multiple high-impact venues, including multiple presentations to federal judges in presentations sponsored by the Federal Judicial Center.  These judicial presentations have focused on how the science of addiction may improve policy and practices related to addicts within the criminal justice system.

Dr. Compton is a member of numerous professional organizations, including the Alpha Omega Alpha medical education honor society. Dr. Compton is the recipient of multiple awards and in 2008, he received the Senior Scholar Health Services Research Award from the American Psychiatric Association, in 2010 the Paul Hoch Award from the American Psychopathological Association, in both 2012 and 2013, he was selected to receive the Leveraging Collaboration Award from the Food and Drug Administration. Dr. Compton received the prestigious Health and Human Services Secretary’s Awards for Meritorious Service in 2013 and for Distinguished Service in 2014.

This page was last updated January 2016