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National Institute on Drug Abuse -  NIDA NOTES
Volume 12, Number 3
May/June 1997

NIDA Director's Leadership Earns Him Distinguished Executive Rank Award

By Sharon Cargo, NIDA NOTES Contributing Writer

President Bill Clinton presented NIDA Director Dr. Alan I. Leshner with the highest commendation available to Senior Executive Service staff members of the Federal government during a White House ceremony in April. The 1996 Distinguished Executive Rank Award was presented to Dr. Leshner for his achievements as a national leader in science, research, drug abuse and addiction, and mental health. He is the only senior executive of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and one of only two senior executives in the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to receive the award this year.


At the White House, President Bill Clinton congratulates NIDA Director
Dr. Alan I. Leshner on his leadership achievements.

Dr. Leshner was cited as an innovative leader who has emphasized the need to integrate the results of scientific research with clinical practice and public policy. He was praised for his work in expanding NIDA's research portfolio and its role in public education and information dissemination as well as leading new initiatives to encourage the application of drug abuse research findings.

Prior to being appointed director of NIDA in 1994, Dr. Leshner served as deputy director and acting director of the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH). The award recognizes his efforts both there and at NIDA to work closely with practitioner and professional groups to ensure the rapid dissemination and practical application of research.

Dr. Leshner was credited with streamlining management and administrative systems throughout his career. Among his accomplishments have been reducing NIDA's contract expenses by more than 15 percent and supervising the reorganization of the Institute's grant review system, which has led to an increase in the number and quality of grant applications that NIDA receives and funds. Under Dr. Leshner's leadership, NIDA has developed formal collaborations with six other NIH Institutes and several other government agencies and national organizations to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of government programs.

At NIMH, he received a Special Citation from the Secretary of HHS for leading an interagency task force on severe mental illness and homelessness that produced "Outcasts on Main Street," a multiagency action plan. While at the National Science Foundation (NSF), Dr. Leshner directed the Science and Technology Centers Development Program, a presidential initiative that brought together government agencies, universities, and industry representatives to conduct ground-breaking research.

He has received numerous awards from organizations such as the American Psychiatric Association, the National Mental Health Association, and the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill. The Black Psychiatrists of America recently presented Dr. Leshner with its Special Presidential Award for his efforts to increase research on issues of concern to racial and ethnic minorities, women, and other special population groups.

Before joining the NSF in 1983, Dr. Leshner taught psychology for 10 years at Bucknell University in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania. He was a Fulbright scholar at the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel and received his Ph.D. in physiological psychology from Rutgers University in New Brunswick, New Jersey.

From NIDA NOTES, May/June 1997

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