ASAM Awards Luncheon Spotlights Top Achievers

This year’s top achievements in addiction medicine were the focus of Saturday’s 2014 ASAM Medical-Scientific Awards Luncheon. ASAM honored nine professionals with awards during the luncheon—from the John P. McGovern Award to Best Paper.

Among the winners was Paul N. Samuels, JD, recipient of the John P. McGovern Award. Samuels is the Director and President of the Legal Action Center, the only national non-profit law and policy organization designed to fight discrimination against people with histories of addiction, HIV/AIDS, or criminal records, and to advocate for sound public policies in these areas. The John P. McGovern Award honors an individual who has made highly meritorious contributions to public policy, treatment, research, or prevention that has increased the understanding of the relationship of addiction and society.

“This award means even more to me coming from ASAM, which has such a long and prestigious history of leadership in addiction medicine,” Samuels said. “Being an advocate, I cannot resist the temptation to mention the extraordinary opportunities for accomplishing the Legal Action Center’s goals, which were created by the Affordable Care Act and the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act, and what we need to do to make the most of those opportunities.”

Samuels’ passion extends to issues related to treatment gaps, coverage, the availability of quality services, integration and coordination of care, criminal justice, and discrimination.

“As you probably imagine, increasing understanding within the health care system and the public that substance use and mental disorders are illnesses deserving of the same quality and quantity of health responses as other illnesses is the wonderful world we’d like to create,” he said. “It can be the pot of health care gold at the end of the rainbow—the elimination or drastic reduction of addiction and discrimination against those in recovery or still suffering.”

During the awards luncheon, Samuels shared the spotlight with Shelly Greenfield, MD, MPH. Dr. Greenfield received  the R. Brinkley Smithers Distinguished Scientist Award. She is Chief Academic Officer at McLean Hospital in Belmont, Massachusetts, and Professor of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School. The award honors individuals who have publicly shared the message of hope and the promise of help, and individuals whose work in the field of alcoholism has had a positive impact in the fight against America’s most misunderstood disease.

U.S. Rep. Paul Tonko (D-New York) was honored with the ASAM Public Policy Award for his outstanding contribution in advancing addiction treatment policy, while Greg Williams, MA, was selected for the 2014 Media Award for his film, The Anonymous People. The documentary spotlights the more than 23 million Americans living in long-term recovery from alcohol and drug addiction. This award recognizes Williams’ achievement in the media for providing a scientific, comprehensive, unflinching, and compassionate look at addiction, and its effects on families and society as a whole.

ASAM’s Annual Award went to Edwin Salsitz, MD, FASAM., Beth Israel Medical Center, for a strong commitment to improving the quality of continuing medical education through sustained multi-year committee and course involvement, and to recognize his unwavering dedication to the organization.

Shonali Saha, MD, an Adolescent Medicine Fellow at Johns Hopkins University, received ASAM’s Young Investigator Award. It is bestowed on an author who is within five years receipt of a doctoral degree. Similarly, the Medical-Scientific Program Committee Award for Best Paper went to Kathleen Decker, MD, Staff Psychiatrist/Clinical Assistant Professor at Eastern Virginia Medical School, Norfolk. Dr. Decker’s abstract achieved the highest rating for its scientific merit.

Kenneth Blum, PhD, President and CEO of IGENE, LLC, Austin, Texas, received the ASAM/Millennium Labs Medical-Scientific Program Committee Award.

Sarah Bagley, MD received the ASAM Millennium Research Fellowship Research Award. Dr. Bagley is a Fellow in Addiction Medicine, Section of General Internal Medicine at Boston University Medical Center. Both awards provide financial support that allows fellows in addiction medicine to understand and research medication monitoring and drug testing in the early phases of their careers in the field of addiction medicine.

Members and non-members are invited to submit abstracts for course sessions, workshop sessions, component sessions, paper sessions and/or poster sessions. The Young Investigator Award, ASAM/Millennium Labs Medical-Scientific Program Committee Award, and the Medical-Scientific Program Committee Award for Best Paper are chosen through the Abstract Awards Competition. The other awards are chosen by the organization’s Nominations and Awards Council.