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NIDA

2015 Lifetime Science Award: Dr. Charles P. O'Brien

The National Institute on Drug Abuse presented Dr. Charles P. O'Brien with the 2015 Lifetime Science Award. Dr. O'Brien is the Kenneth E. Appel Professor of Psychiatry and Founding Director of the Center for Studies in Addiction at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine. On May 05, 2015 , NIDA Director Dr. Nora Volkow gave Dr. O'Brien the award at the National Science Center in North Bethesda, Maryland.

Transcript

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Dr. O'Brien Speaking: 

Well they are in three different areas.

One is in discovery, using science to learn more about the mechanisms involved in addiction.

The second is in, teaching because the discoveries that we make at NIH are useless unless doctors learn about them and can apply them with their patients.

And the third is with setting new treatment programs that we did in Philadelphia, which are still running and enable people to get the best and latest evidence-based treatment most patients unfortunately don't get evidence-based treatment, they just get whatever treatment the person learned when they were in school, which is not based on science in most cases.

Addiction is one of the most common diseases and devastating disease that humans face, not just in an advanced society like the United States, but also all over the world.

There are different kinds of addiction in Africa, or in India...but it is the same process.

In the brain addiction is a hijacking of the reward system it's the production of the compulsion to seek drugs and get the reward system activated is an abhorrent, maladaptive way. 

In other words, a way that doesn't contribute to wellbeing and happiness.

So, we've made tremendous advances in understanding addiction, but most physicians don't learn about this.

It's not taught in medical schools and most of the teachers in medical schools don't know about it as a consequence even though we have spent billions of dollars on research which is very successful.

The research is useless unless applied for the good of mankind and I'm spending the last years and I'm spending the last years that I have remaining in my career to try to push for the adoption of knowledge transfer in medical schools.

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This page was last updated May 2015