Dr. Markus Heilig Named NIAAA Clinical Director
National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) Director
Ting-Kai Li, M.D., has named Markus Heilig, M.D., Ph.D., as Chief
of the Laboratory of Clinical Studies (LCS), and Clinical Director
in NIAAA's Division of Intramural Clinical and Biological Research.
"We are fortunate to have Dr. Heilig in these important positions,"
says Dr. Li. "He is an outstanding clinician and a highly respected
neuroscientist who has demonstrated a unique ability to translate
preclinical basic neuroscience research into possible new treatments."
A native of Poland, Dr. Heilig comes to NIAAA from the Karolinska
Institute in Stockholm, Sweden, where since January of 2002 he has
served as Chief of Research and Development in the Division of Psychiatry
in the southern Clinical Neuroscience Department. From 1997 through
2001, Dr. Heilig directed an addiction medicine department at Karolinska
that conducted preclinical and clinical research and research training
in addiction medicine.
Dr. Heilig received the M.D. degree from Sweden's Lund University
in 1986 and a Ph.D. in psychiatric neurochemistry from the same
institution in 1989. He then pursued postdoctoral research at the
Scripps Research Institute in California and completed a clinical
transition fellowship at Goteborg University in Sweden.
As NIAAA Clinical Director and Chief of the Laboratory of Clinical
Studies, Dr. Heilig will oversee the only clinical laboratory in
the NIAAA intramural research program. The LCS conducts investigations
into the effects of acute and chronic alcohol consumption and studies
the effects of drug treatments on patients with carefully defined
neuropsychiatric and medical diagnoses as well as patients with
a diagnosis of alcohol abuse and dependence.
"Dr. Heilig has a unique strength and interest in translational
research in the neurobiology of alcoholism," notes Dr. Li,
"an area where few people are as highly qualified as he is.
He has carried out both basic and clinical research on topics ranging
from gene expression to treatment of addiction."
Dr. Heilig's research has focused on the neural mechanisms underlying
motivation and emotion, with special emphasis on the stress response
and anxiety, and on the neurobiological basis of drug and alcohol
dependence. He is internationally recognized for his groundbreaking
research on neuropeptide Y, a peptide with a major role in emotionality
and alcohol-seeking behavior. Author of the standard addiction medicine
textbook used in Sweden, Dr. Heilig has been an advocate for public
education to remove the stigma of addiction and counter the popular
perception that addiction is the product of a character defect.
In addition to his scientific and clinical accomplishments, Dr.
Heilig has been a leader in addiction research in the European Community,
having organized a trans-European initiative in drug dependence
as well as a number of conferences and other meetings to promote
this effort. He also has initiated collaborations among scientists
at the Karolinska Institute, the Scripps Research Institute in California,
and the Rockefeller University in New York.
The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, a component
of the National Institutes of Health, U.S. Department of Health
and Human Services, conducts and supports approximately 90 percent
of the U.S. research on the causes, consequences, prevention, and
treatment of alcohol abuse, alcoholism, and alcohol problems and
disseminates research findings to general, professional, and academic
audiences. Additional alcohol research information and publications
are available at www.niaaa.nih.gov.