Bertha Madras

Professor of Psychobiology
Department of Psychiatry
McLean Hospital

Bertha K Madras, PhD is a Professor of Psychobiology at Harvard Medical School (at Harvard 36 years). She is based at McLean Hospital and cross-appointed at the Massachusetts General Hospital. She directs the Laboratory of Addiction Neurobiology at McLean Hospital.
Scientific Research. Her research has focused on neurobiology, pharmacology, brain imaging, drug discovery and medications development, neuropsychiatric disorders, and drug policy. Her lab discovered a class of compounds now in widespread use for detecting Parkinson’s disease in living brain, has clarified molecular targets in brain of specific psychoactive drugs, and discovered contrasting behavioral and molecular responses of adolescent and adult nonhuman primates to psychoactive drugs. In public policy, she published the first systematic analysis of the federal government SBIRT program (screening, brief intervention and referral to treatment) in U.S., catalyzed SBIRT services in the nation, shepherded and wrote major components of the final report of the President’s Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis.
She is author of more than 200 scientific manuscripts, articles. Co-edited book titles include: Madras BK et al (eds.) Cell Biology of Addiction; Madras B.K. and Kuhar, MJ, (Eds.) The Effects of Drug Abuse on the Human Nervous System; Seeman, P and Madras BK, (Eds). Imaging of the Human Brain in Health and Disease. Book chapter titles include: Madras BK. “Unique Consequences of Addiction” in the American Psychological Association Addiction Syndrome Handbook; Robert L. DuPont, Bertha K. Madras, and Per Johansson. Section 12: Policy Issues, Chapter 77, Drug policy: A biological science perspective. In J. H. Lowinson & P. Ruiz (Eds.) Substance Abuse: A Comprehensive Textbook (5th ed).
Inventor. She is a recipient of 19 U.S. and 27 international issued patents with collaborators.
Government Service.
• Served as Deputy Director for Demand Reduction in the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP), Executive Office of the President, a presidential appointment confirmed by U.S. Senate 99-0.
• In a 2015 landmark Federal Court case to de-schedule marijuana, she served as sole expert witness for U.S. Department of Justice (Eastern District of CA). The Federal Judge ruled in favor of the DoJ.
• In 2017, she was appointed one of six members of the President’s Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis along with Governors C. Baker (MA); C. Christie, (NJ, ret.); R. Cooper (NC), and Congressman P. Kennedy (RI, ret.); Attorney General P. Bondi (FL, ret.). Dr. Madras was charged with shepherding and writing major components of the final Commission Report.
• Currently, she is a member of the National Academy of Medicine Collaborative on the Opioid Crisis.
• She was commissioned by the World Health Organization to author a report, “Update of Cannabis and its Medical Use” (2015) and co-authored “The Health and Social Effects of Nonmedical Cannabis Use.
• She served (2016) as a panelist on Narcotics at the Vatican Pontifical Academy of Sciences and co-authored the final report.
Education Services (partial).
• She developed an international course on “Cell Biology of Addiction”, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratories
• She developed the first course (elective) on addiction biology and treatment for 4th year medical students at HMS
• In collaboration with the Museum of Science, Boston, she directed the production of
a museum exhibit, a CD “Changing Your Mind: Drugs in the Brain” (licensed by Disney) and a play.
Honors, awards.
• Recipient of research and public service awards, including a NIDA Public Service Award; CPDD Innovator Award; Jack H. Mendelson Memorial Research Award; CPDD M. Adler Distinguished Service Award; CADCA National Leadership Award; American Association of Addiction Psychiatry Founders Award; Marion Fischman award; Nils Bejerot Award (Sweden), others.
• The 2006 Better World Report designated her brain imaging invention as “one of 25 technology transfer innovations (university to industry) that changed the world”.
Her experiences in neuroscience research, drug addiction, education, government and public service offer a unique perspective at the intersection of science and public policy.