Dr. Volkow is the Director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), which supports most of the world’s research on the health aspects of drug abuse and addiction. Her scientific research was instrumental in demonstrating that drug addiction is a disease of the human brain, and her work at NIDA has promoted research that improves the prevention and treatment of substance use disorders.
As NIDA director, Dr. Volkow has worked to create an inclusive environment for women researchers to thrive and championed research on biological sex differences. NIDA’s Women and Sex/Gender Differences Research Group works to support the careers of women scientists, as well as to promote conduct, translation, and dissemination of research on sex and gender differences in substance use disorders and responses to drugs of abuse.
As a research psychiatrist, Dr. Volkow pioneered the use of brain imaging to investigate the toxic and addictive effects of abusable drugs. Her studies documented disruption of the dopamine system in addiction with its consequential functional impairment of frontal brain regions involved with motivation, executive function and self-regulation. She has also made important contributions to the neurobiology of obesity and ADHD.
Dr. Volkow has published more than 820 peer-reviewed articles, written more than 100 book chapters and non-peer-reviewed manuscripts, co-edited a Neuroscience Encyclopedia, and edited four books on neuroimaging for mental and addictive disorders.