FORCE Awards

Each year FORCE will honor 1-3 distinguished women with the FORCE Award, which recognizes women who are making positive impacts in our nation’s efforts fighting the disease of opioid addiction. The awardees may  choose to direct their grant or request FORCE to direct their grant, to other organizations or activities that promote education and evidence-based treatment for opioid addiction. These grants may be provided to support the following: 

  • Fellowship programs in addiction medicine and addiction psychiatry;
  • Travel grants to addiction medicine & addiction psychiatry scientific conferences;
  • Scholarships for treatment for patients in need through addiction-focused patient assistance programs;
  • Programs integrating opioid addiction treatment into inpatient hospital settings and emergency departments;
  • Programs caring for pregnant women suffering from opioid addiction and their infant;
  • Charity clinics for the uninsured.

2016 FORCE Awards

Nora Volkow, M.D.

Nora Volkow, M.D.

Nora D. Volkow, M.D., became Director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) at the National Institutes of Health in May 2003.  NIDA supports most of the world’s research on the health aspects of drug abuse and addiction.

Dr. Volkow’s work has been instrumental in demonstrating that drug addiction is a disease of the human brain.  As a research psychiatrist and scientist, Dr. Volkow pioneered the use of brain imaging to investigate the toxic effects and addictive properties of abusable drugs.  Her studies have documented changes in the dopamine system affecting, among others, the functions of frontal brain regions involved with motivation, drive, and pleasure in addiction.  She has also made important contributions to the neurobiology of obesity, ADHD, and aging.

Dr. Volkow was born in Mexico, attended the Modern American School, and earned her medical degree from the National University of Mexico in Mexico City, where she received the Robins award for best medical student of her generation.  Her psychiatric residency was at New York University, where she earned the Laughlin Fellowship Award as one of the 10 Outstanding Psychiatric Residents in the USA.

Dr. Volkow spent most of her professional career at the Department of Energy’s Brookhaven National Laboratory (BNL) in Upton, New York, where she held several leadership positions including Director of Nuclear Medicine, Chairman of the Medical Department, and Associate Director for Life Sciences.  In addition, Dr. Volkow was a Professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Associate Dean of the Medical School at the State University of New York (SUNY)-Stony Brook.

Dr. Volkow has published more than 600 peer-reviewed articles and written more than 95 book chapters and non-peer-reviewed manuscripts, and has also edited three books on neuroimaging for mental and addictive disorders.

During her professional career, Dr. Volkow has been the recipient of multiple awards. In 2013, she was a Samuel J. Heyman Service to America Medal (Sammies) finalist; and she was inducted into the Children and Adults with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (CHADD) Hall of Fame. She was elected to membership in the Institute of Medicine in the National Academy of Sciences and received the International Prize from the French Institute of Health and Medical Research for her pioneering work in brain imaging and addiction science. She has been named one of Time magazine’s “Top 100 People Who Shape Our World,”  “One of the 20 People to Watch” by Newsweek magazine, Washingtonian magazine’s “100 Most Powerful Women” and “Innovator of the Year” by U.S. News & World Report. Dr. Volkow was the subject of a 2012 profile piece by CBS’s 60 Minutes and was a featured speaker at TEDMED 2014.

Leana Wen, M.D. M.Sc. FAAEM, Commissioner of Health, Baltimore City

Leana Wen, M.D. M.Sc. FAAEM, Commissioner of Health, Baltimore City

As Baltimore City’s Commissioner of Health, Dr. Wen leads the oldest, continuously-operating health department in the U.S., with over 1000 employees. Her transformative approach to public health involves engaging hospitals and returning citizens in violence prevention and launching an ambitious opioid overdose prevention program that is training every resident to save lives. Following the civil unrest in April 2015, she directed Baltimore’s medical access and trauma recovery efforts.

A board-certified emergency physician, Dr. Wen received her medical training at Washington University and Brigham & Women’s and Massachusetts General Hospitals. She was a Rhodes Scholar, a Clinical Fellow at Harvard, a consultant with the World Health Organization, and a professor at George Washington University. She has been published over 100 articles including in The Lancet, JAMA, and Health Affairs. The author of When Doctors Don’t Listen: How to Avoid Misdiagnoses and Unnecessary Tests, Dr. Wen’s work is regularly featured on NPR, CNN, MSNBC, the New York Times, and the Washington Post. Her TED talk on transparency in medicine has been viewed nearly 1.5 million times.