Mclean Hospital

Bertha Madras Receives Innovator Award From the College on Problems of Drug Dependence

September 21, 2019

The College on Problems of Drug Dependence (CPDD) has presented McLean Hospital’s Bertha K. Madras, PhD, with its Innovator Award.

Madras, the director of McLean’s Laboratory of Addiction Neurobiology, accepted the award on June 16 at CPDD’s 81st Annual Scientific Meeting in San Antonio, Texas.

According to CPDD, the annual award recognizes “individuals who have developed innovative approaches in basic science, clinical research, or treatment and prevention science that reflect groundbreaking strides with potential for significant impact in the field of drug dependence.” Indivior, a maker of opioid addiction treatment drugs, sponsors the Innovator Award.

On receiving the honor, Madras said, “I was honored to receive this recognition from my colleagues and peers. Above all, the award provided an opportunity to express my deep gratitude to the wonderful collaborators and colleagues that contributed significantly to various components of the research, and to McLean Hospital for providing me with a magnificent home base.”

CPDD recognized Madras for her work as the discoverer of a class of compounds called phenyltropanes, which can be used for brain PET and SPECT imaging of dopamine neurons.

McLean’s Dr. Bertha Madras
Dr. Madras focuses her research on neurobiology, imaging, and medication development for neuropsychiatric disorders

Madras reported that, since her initial findings in 1989, “investigators in the US and other nations have synthesized many other phenyltropane analogs as brain imaging probes and applied them for myriad purposes.”

She explained that her research has led to advances in the understanding and treatment of neuropsychiatric disorders, drug discovery, and drug addiction. For example, in 2019, McLean’s Diego A. Pizzagalli, PhD, used one of her imaging agents to reveal reductions in a dopamine signaling protein in patients with depression. The 2006 Better World Report described this “brain signaling strategy” as “one of 25 technology transfers that changed the world.”

Formerly the Committee on Problems of Drug Dependence, CPDD was founded in 1929 to address the problems of drug dependence and abuse. The group works with “academia, government agencies, and private industry” to “promote scientific discoveries in addictive diseases as well as to inform legislators about their implications for public policy, benefits to society, and the need for continued advancement of science and education on addictive diseases.”

Madras is currently a CPDD member with fellow status. She is a past member of the organization’s board (1999-2003) and a past chair of the Media committee.