Nora D. Volkow, M.D., is Director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) at the National Institutes of Health. 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, she 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.
Michael Krasny is the host of the KQED Public Radio program Forum. He is also a professor of English at San Francisco State University and the author of Spiritual Envy: an Agnostic’s Quest and Off Mike: A Memoir of Talk Radio and Literary Life. His many City Arts & Lectures interviews include Toni Morrison, Salman Rushdie, Norman Mailer, Joyce Carol Oates, John Irving, and Brian Greene.