Interview a Researcher

If you are a member of the press, please contact the NIDA Press Office at media@nida.nih.gov or 301-443-6245 to schedule an interview with one of the researchers below or to inquire about other experts available at NIDA.

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Nora Volkow

Nora D. Volkow, M.D.
Director
(Available for interviews in both English and Spanish)
Dr. Volkow is a world leader on the neurobiology of addiction. As director of NIDA, she oversees an annual budget of approximately $1 billion and a staff of 400 federal employees.

Areas of Expertise: Science of addiction; brain imaging; addiction as a brain disease; HEAL (Helping to End Addiction Long-term) initiative; prescription drug misuse; opioid addiction; effects of drugs on the teenage brain; stigma; Monitoring the Future survey of teen drug use

Media Interview/Video Example: 
“Addiction is a chronic disease of the brain, where the circuits that enable us to exert free will are disrupted. The person that is addicted does not choose to be addicted.”

 

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Wilson M. Compton, M.D., M.P.E.

Wilson M. Compton, M.D., M.P.E.
Deputy Director

Areas of Expertise: Prescription drug misuse; opioid addiction; fentanyl; epidemiology; addiction prevention and treatment; Monitoring the Future survey of teen drug use; nicotine/tobacco addiction; e-cigarettes/vaping; Population Assessment of Tobacco and Health (PATH) Study

Media Interview/Video Example: 
“Some people might believe that meth is safer than opioids, but that’s like jumping out of the frying pan into the fire.”

“We are seeing fentanyl being included in cocaine; we are seeing it included in methamphetamine and we are seeing in many classes of drugs sold on the streets. So, this toxic poison is now being seen both in fake pills as well as in powders that are sold on the streets--almost no matter what type people think they are getting.”

 

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Ruben Baler, Ph.D.

Ruben Baler, Ph.D.
Health Scientist
(Available for interviews in both English and Spanish)

Areas of Expertise: Neurobiology of drug use and addiction; effects of drug use on the body and the brain; Monitoring the Future survey of teen drug use; anabolic steroids; marijuana; inhalants

Media Interview/Video Example:
“With vaping devices, teens can get exposed to very high concentrations of active ingredients like THC and nicotine. They could be vaping the equivalent of a pack of cigarettes in an hour. These devices are undoing decades of progress we made in lowering kids’ exposure to nicotine. We have many reasons to be concerned.”

 

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Michael Baumann, Ph.D.

Michael Baumann, Ph.D.
Chief, Designer Drug Research Unit, Intramural Research Program

Areas of Expertise: Pharmacology and toxicology of newly-emerging designer drugs, including synthetic cathinones (e.g., “bath salts”) and synthetic cannabinoids (e.g., K2/“Spice”)

Media Interview/Video Example:
“People use synthetic stimulants such as bath salts because they can have a positive mood effect and increased energy. However, they also have serious side effects, such as paranoia, hallucinations, hyperthermia, increased heart rate, and in some cases death. These are dangerous substances.”

 

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Carlos Blanco, M.D., Ph.D.

Carlos Blanco, M.D., Ph.D.
Director, Division of Epidemiology, Services, and Prevention Research
(Available for interviews in both English and Spanish)

Areas of Expertise: Epidemiology; addiction prevention and treatment; comorbidity, including mood, depression, or anxiety disorders; behavioral addiction

 

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Redonna Chandler, Ph.D.

Redonna Chandler, Ph.D. 
Director, AIDS Research Program
Director, HEALing Communities Study

Areas of Expertise: Research on HIV/AIDS and drug use; HEALing Communities Study; NIDA Avant-Garde Awards; addiction prevention and treatment for criminal justice populations; evidence-based treatment in clinical practice

 

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Brenda Curtis

Brenda Curtis, PhD, MsPH
Tenure Track Investigator, Chief, Technology and Translational Research Unit

Areas of Expertise: Language of addiction; stigma; social media research; use of digital technologies to monitor and address substance use

 

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Ron Dobbins, M.B.A., P.M.P

Ron Dobbins, M.B.A., P.M.P
Clinical Trials Program Specialist, Office of the CCTN Director

Areas of Expertise: NIH HEAL (Helping to End Addiction Long-term) initiative on Enhancing the NIDA Clinical Trials Network to Address Opioids project designed to expand NIH research to more communities in areas of the country that are severely impacted by the opioid crisis; buprenorphine

 

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Gayathri Dowling, Ph.D.

Gayathri Dowling, Ph.D.
Director, Adolescent Brain Cognitive Development (ABCD) Project

Areas of Expertise: ABCD study, marijuana and the teenage brain, drugs and aging

Media Interview/Video Example:
“We make the data from the Adolescent Brain Cognitive Development study available to other researchers because we want the data to be used. People with other interests in adolescent development can mine the data and publish on it.”

 

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Emily Einstein, Ph.D.

Emily Einstein, Ph.D.
Branch Chief, Science Policy Branch, Office of Science Policy and Communications

Areas of Expertise: Science of addiction; neurobiology of addiction; molecular and cellular mechanisms of opioid reward; addiction prevention and treatment; effects of drug use on the body and the brain

Media Interview/Video Example:
“Fentanyl has recently made its way into the marketplace because it’s such a potent synthetic opioid that a very small amount of it can provide the same number of highs. For the opioid user, it’s a very fast onset of high, so it’s very rewarding. It’s also incredibly dangerous because it suppresses respiration very quickly.”

 

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Dr. Michelle Freund, Ph.D.

Michelle Freund, Ph.D.
Director, HEALthy Brain and Child Development Study

Areas of Expertise: NIH HEAL (Helping to End Addiction Long-term) initiative on the HEALthy Brain and Child Development Study researching brain development, including cognitive, behavioral, social, and emotional development, beginning prenatally through early childhood

 

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Steven Gust, Ph.D.

Steven Gust, Ph.D.
Director, International Program/Special Assistant to the Director

Areas of Expertise: Global research, training and education; marijuana research; NIDA Drug Supply Program

 

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Ivan Montoya, M.P.H., M.D.

Ivan Montoya, M.P.H., M.D.
Deputy Director, Division of Therapeutics and Medical Consequences
(Available for interviews in both English and Spanish)

Areas of Expertise: Medications development; NIH HEAL (Helping to End Addiction Long-term) initiative on Focusing Medication Development to Treat Opioid Use Disorder and Prevent/Reverse Overdose; treatment of substance use disorders; addiction vaccine development; clinical trial data and safety monitoring

 

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Amy Newman, Ph.D.

Amy Newman, Ph.D.
Scientific Director, NIDA Intramural Research Program

Areas of Expertise: IRP research; medicinal chemistry, in vitro tissue and cell-based assays, pre-clinical research; mechanisms underlying drug use and identification of targets for medications development; dopamine receptors and monoamine transporters

 

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Dr. Kurt Rasmussen, Ph.D.

Kurt Rasmussen, Ph.D.
Director, Division of Therapeutics and Medical Consequences

Areas of Expertise: Medications development; NIH HEAL (Helping to End Addiction Long-term) initiative on Focusing Medication Development to Treat Opioid Use Disorder and Prevent/Reverse Overdose; addiction vaccine development; treatment of substance use disorders

 

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Jack Stein, M.S.W., Ph.D.

Jack Stein, M.S.W., Ph.D.
Chief of Staff and Director, Office of Science Policy and Communications, Office of Science Policy and Communications

Areas of Expertise: Drug use and HIV-related research, science policy and practice; addiction prevention and treatment; prescription drug and opioid misuse; NIH HEAL (Helping to End Addiction Long-term) initiative on opioid research

Media Interview/Video Example:
“It all boils down to extensive years of research in the field of prevention that show parental involvement in kids’ development is perhaps one of the most important protective factors in whether kids experiment with or go on to misuse drugs.”

 

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Dr. Kevin Walton, Ph.D.

Kevin Walton, Ph.D.
Chief, Clinical Research Grants Branch

Areas of Expertise: E-cigarettes; vaping; nicotine/tobacco research; smoking cessation; clinical treatment studies

Media Interview/Video Example:
“We’re very excited about e-cigarettes’ potential in helping adult smokers stop using combustible cigarettes. But we need to also understand why teens are using e-cigarettes and make sure they understand the potential risks. We need to help stop teen use, while perhaps supporting the use by adults.”

 

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Tisha Wiley Ph.D

Tisha Wiley, Ph.D
Associate Director for Justice Systems;  Chief, Service Research Branch

Areas of Expertise: Treatment in criminal justice populations; NIH HEAL (Helping to End Addiction Long-term) initiative on the Justice Community Opioid Innovation Network; services/research implementation science; opioid addiction treatment in the criminal justice system

Media Interview/Video Example:
“People’s tolerance to opioids goes down while they are incarcerated. So if they do go back to the community and seek out opioids, that makes them especially vulnerable to relapse.”

 

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Dr. Rita Valentino

Rita Valentino, Ph.D.
Director, Division of Neuroscience and Behavior

Areas of Expertise: Basic neuroscience; effects of social stress; sex differences; opioid neuropharmacology; neurobiological mechanisms; psychiatric disorders, including PTSD, anxiety and depression

 

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Jennifer Villani, Ph.D., M.P.H.

Jennifer Villani, Ph.D., M.P.H.
Associate Director, HEALing Communities Study

Areas of Expertise: NIH HEAL (Helping to End Addiction Long-term) initiative on the HEALing Communities Study testing the impact of an integrated set of evidence-based interventions for opioid use disorder across healthcare, behavioral health, justice, and other community-based settings

 

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Susan R.B. Weiss, Ph.D.

Susan R.B. Weiss, Ph.D.
Director, Division of Extramural Research

Areas of Expertise: Science of addiction; marijuana science and policy; extramural research grant program and training; trans-NIH initiatives; Adolescent Brain Cognitive Development (ABCD) study

Media Interview/Video Example:
"What we know is strong enough to say that exposure [to marijuana] during adolescence, when the brain is developing, is a risk. It seems that early exposure to many substances can make it likely someone will be addicted to other substances."

For areas of expertise not listed, please contact the NIDA press office at 301-443-6245 or media@nida.nih.gov.