Dr. Nora D. Volkow, director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, has been selected as the recipient of the 2011 Joan and Stanford Alexander Award in Psychiatry.

The award was established in honor of Dr. Stuart Yudofsky, professor and chair of the Menninger Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Baylor College of Medicine, who was also its first recipient.

Significant contribution

Each year, the award honors a mental health professional who has made significant contributions in research, education and clinical or community service for people suffering from severe and persistent mental illness. The award consists of an annual prize and lecture of international scope.

Volkow will receive the award and present grand rounds on Wednesday, April 27, at 10:30 a.m. in BCM's Cullen Auditorium. Her lecture is titled "Addiction: Conflict Between Brain Circuits."

Drug addiction is a disease

Her work has been instrumental in demonstrating that drug addiction is a disease of the human brain, and she pioneered the use of brain imaging to investigate the toxic effects of drugs and their addictive properties.

Volkow has received numerous awards, including being selected 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. 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.

Joan and Stanford Alexander are pioneer advocates for providing parity in the reimbursements for psychiatric care for the mentally ill and work to fight the effects of stigma on those who suffer from mental illness.

This marks the third year of the award. Nobel Laureate Dr. Eric Kandel was last year's recipient.