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Deputy Director for Demand Reduction
President George W. Bush nominated Bertha K. Madras, PhD, in July, 2005 to serve as Deputy Director for Demand Reduction in the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) and the United States Senate unanimously confirmed her nomination in 2006. Dr. Madras is focused on strategies, programs, and policies aimed at reducing the demand for illicit drugs and promoting best practices for intervention and treatment.
It is estimated that the vast majority of people (95 percent) are unaware and do not seek help for a diagnosable substance abuse/addiction disorder. During her first year in this Administration, Dr. Madras promoted implementation of screening and brief intervention procedures (SBI) in healthcare centers throughout our nation, as a public health response to reducing substance abuse and its adverse medical and social consequences. Working closely with several medical organizations, she gained strong support for SBI programs and dissemination. Simultaneously, ONDCP encouraged the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services and the American Medical Association CPT® board to adopt new procedural reimbursable codes for widespread substance abuse screening and brief interventions (SBI) in healthcare settings, which were adopted in 2007.
She has promoted effective forms of prevention and deterrence, including biometric testing in schools, in the work-place, and expansion of treatment access, via drug courts and the Access to Recovery program. In resonance with her background, she has encouraged evidence-based treatment programs and has advocated for publication of effective government programs to encourage best practices.
Prior to joining ONDCP, Dr. Madras was Professor of Psychobiology in the Department of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and Associate Director for Public Education in the Division on Addictions at Harvard Medical School. She organized an elective course on substance use for fourth-year Harvard Medical School students and created a course on the Cell Biology of Addiction at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory. She also supervised a translational research program on how the brain responds and adapts to drugs, and developed novel brain probes and candidate therapeutic agents for substance abuse, Parkinson’s disease and other brain disorders. She is author of more than 130 scientific manuscripts and book chapters, and recently co-edited a book on the biology of addiction. She is the recipient of 17 patents with her collaborators, of an National Institutes of Health MERIT award, and a NIDA Public Service Award. One of her discoveries, a class of agents that images brain cells in the living brain, affected by methamphetamine and Parkinson's disease, was recently highlighted in the Better World Report as one of 25 technology transfer innovations that changed the world.
She has served on a number of NIH committees, and advisory boards, including the Advisory Board of the Addiction Studies Institute for Journalists, the Science and Technology Advisory Committee of Brookhaven National Laboratory and others.
She has avidly promoted the translation of scientific discoveries for the public good, by directing a NIDA-sponsored exhibit at the Museum of Science, Boston titled “Changing your Mind: Drugs in the Brain,” a CD, and two-actor play. She has also delivered numerous talks on the impact of drugs and addiction to audiences ranging from high school students to lawyers and judges, nationally and in four other continents.
Dr. Madras received a BSc (honors biochemistry) and a Ph.D. from McGill University and conducted post-doctoral research at MIT. She is married to Dr. Peter Madras and rejoices in her daughters Cynthia and Claudine, son-in-law Cary, and grandchildren Andrew and Zachary.
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