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June 4, 2001

Brookhaven Lab Scientist Receives New York State Senate's "Woman of Distinction" Award

Nora Volkow UPTON,NY - Nora Volkow of the U.S. Department of Energy's Brookhaven National Laboratory will be one of two women to receive the New York State Senate's "Woman of Distinction" award at a special reception in Albany on June 5. Created in celebration of Women's History Month, the award honors women throughout New York State whose accomplishments or contributions to society often go unnoticed.

Senator Kenneth P. LaValle chose Dr. Volkow of Shoreham and Sister Martha Winum, D.W., of Port Jefferson as honorees from the First Senate District. Dr. Volkow is a world-leader in research on addiction, and Sister Martha Winum, a member of a religious congregation called the Daughters of Wisdom, is the longest-standing health-care employee in New York State, with 68 years of service.

"There are scores of women among us who inspire us, are positive role models for our young people, and whose contributions to society make our world a better place," said Senator LaValle. "I believe that Dr. Nora Volkow and Sister Martha Winum are two such women. Their leadership, success and strength of character are admirable qualities truly worthy of recognition."

Dr. Volkow said, "This honor means a great deal to me. I am glad that the work that I am doing with my colleagues at Brookhaven National Laboratory and at SUNY is being recognized by our community. My talented colleagues and I are making inroads into finding the causes of addiction and other diseases of the brain, and we hope that we can find effective treatments for these diseases soon."

A board-certified psychiatrist, Dr. Volkow uses a medical imaging technique called positron emission tomography (PET) to view how addictive drugs, such as cocaine, affect the brain. In related work, she uses PET to study brain biochemistry associated with alcoholism, aging and obesity. In collaboration with her colleagues, she has found important chemical clues to drug-abuse vulnerability, which may lead to an effective treatment for addiction. She has also uses PET to study the mechanisms of action of Ritalin, which is a drug that is widely used to treat children with attention deficit disorder but for which the mechanisms of action are unknown.

After receiving her M.D. in 1980 from the National University of Mexico, Dr. Volkow did her residency at New York University's Department of Psychiatry, from 1981 to 1984. Then, at the University of Texas Medical School from 1984 to 1987, she performed groundbreaking research on the toxic effects of cocaine on the brain. She joined Brookhaven's staff in 1987 as an associate scientist to continue this research. She became associate chief of staff of Brookhaven's Clinical Research Center in 1990, was appointed director of the nuclear medicine program in 1994, and, in 1996, she became Chair of the Laboratory's Medical Department. She became Brookhaven's Associate Director for Life Sciences in 1999. Since 1987, Dr. Volkow has been on the staff of the Department of Psychiatry at Stony Brook University and is an Associate Dean at the university.

The U.S. Department of Energy's Brookhaven National Laboratory conducts research in the physical, biomedical, and environmental sciences, as well as in energy technologies. Brookhaven also builds and operates major facilities available to university, industrial, and government scientists. The Laboratory is operated by Brookhaven Science Associates, a partnership led by Stony Brook University and Battelle, a nonprofit applied science and technology organization.