January 25, 2008
NIDA Director, Dr. Nora D. Volkow

Many of our NIDA and NIMH colleagues join us in mourning the passing of noted psychiatrist and former NIDA director Dr. William Pollin, on January 25 at the age of 85. Dr. Pollin was NIDA's second director, from 1975-1985 and on staff at NIMH from 1956-1971.

Over his long career, Dr. Pollin made many notable contributions to psychiatry and to drug control policy. At NIMH he contributed to early studies which examined pairs of twins to determine the connection between development of schizophrenia and obstetrical complications and various other neurological abnormalities. At NIDA he was one of the key researchers who changed the medical view of tobacco smoking from an unhealthy habit to a diagnosable drug addiction—after which cigarette makers nicknamed him "Doctor Death" to the tobacco industry. Dr. Pollin emphasized supporting family-oriented drug prevention programs and during this time the rate of cannabis abuse in high school children declined.

Dr. Pollin's passing reminds us that NIH's success has been built not only on the scientific excellence of those who came before us but also on their public health vision. Funeral services for Dr. Pollin were held on Monday, January 28. The Washington Post had an interesting article on Dr. Pollin on January 31; for your convenience were are including the link.


Nora D. Volkow, M.D.