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March 01, 2006

Dr. Bill Carlezon Receives the 2005 Jacob P. Waletzky Memorial Award

Dr. Bill Carlezon Receives the 2005 Jacob P. Waletzky Memorial AwardSelection Committee Chairman Dr. Robert Malenka (right) congratulates Dr. Bill Carlezon, 2005 Jacob P. Waletzky Memorial Award recipient.

Dr. Bill Carlezon, associate professor of psychiatry and neuroscience and director of the Behavioral Genetics Laboratory at Harvard Medical School, received the 2005 Jacob P. Waletzky Memorial Award for Innovative Research in Drug Addiction and Alcoholism. Dr. Carlezon received the award and gave the keynote lecture at NIDA's "Frontiers in Addiction Research" miniconvention in Washington, D.C. on November 11.

Dr. Carlezon's work has focused on the neuromechanisms and neural adaptations in brain reward systems that underlie addictions. "Ten years ago, he began using simple but elegant molecular manipulations to dissect out how molecular adaptations in reward systems lead to long-lasting behavioral modifications," said Dr. Robert Malenka, the chairman of the Society for Neuroscience 2005 Waletzky Award Selection Committee. Dr. Malenka noted that Dr. Carlezon has since been proven prescient in realizing the power of applying molecular techniques to behavioral analyses.

Dr. Carlezon's keynote lecture described his recent work examining the comorbidity of addictive and depressive disorders, focusing primarily on the role that elevated levels of the transcription factor CREB play in regulating moods. Dr. Carlezon's studies of rodents have shown that increased levels of CREB and dynorphin in the nucleus accumbens, which can be caused by stress and repeated drug use, inhibit the brain reward circuit and lead to depressive-like behaviors. His group is now working to determine whether a kappa opioid antagonist can be used to block overexpression of dynorphin. Results thus far have been positive, as kappa antagonists have been shown to have antidepressant effects.

The $25,000 Waletzky Memorial Award is presented to a young scientist within 15 years of obtaining his or her doctoral degree and is intended to reward and encourage innovative research into the neurobiology of drug addiction and alcoholism. The award was established in 2003 by Jacob P. Waletzky's parents in memory of their son, who died at the age of 29 of cocaine-induced cardiac arrhythmia. The award does more than honor an individual investigator, said Dr. Malenka in thanking the Waletzky family; it also brings positive attention to drug abuse research and establishes an incentive for young scientists to join the field.

Psychological Association Honors Dr. Nora D. Volkow

Psychological Association Honors Dr. Nora D. VolkowNIDA Director Dr. Nora D. Volkow accepts the Presidential Citation award from APA President Dr. Gerald P. Koocher.

Dr. Nora D. Volkow, Director of NIDA, received a Presidential Citation from the American Psychological Association in appreciation for her leadership at the Institute. The award, which recognizes distinguished service in the field of addiction research, was presented at the organization's annual conference, August 19, 2005, in Washington, D.C. Members of the association's Division on Addiction and Division on Pharmacology and Substance Abuse honored Dr. Volkow during a reception at the Renaissance Hotel.