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Dr. Mary Jeanne Kreek: Mourning the Loss of a Great Addiction Pioneer 

We are profoundly saddened at the passing of Dr. Mary Jeanne Kreek last week, at age 84. A longtime NIH grantee, Mary Jeanne contributed enormously to the study of addiction, and her work has been crucial in eroding the stigma that still surrounds this disease and its treatment. She also served as a towering role model for women in science, busily breaking glass ceilings (as she put it in this oral history interview) through her tireless scientific work and leadership.

Although she made many contributions to our science, Mary Jeanne is best known for her work developing the first medication for opioid use disorder, methadone. During her medical residency in 1964, she joined the laboratory of Vincent Dole at The Rockefeller Institute for Medical Research, which was studying the neurobiology of heroin addiction with an aim to develop a medication to treat it. They identified methadone—a long-acting oral opioid analgesic—as potentially able to quell the cravings felt by patients without producing the destructive intense highs and lows produced by heroin, which both enters and leaves the brain much more quickly.

Nora D. Volkow, Director, NIDA, and George F. Koob, Director, NIAAA, 06.04.2021

https://www.drugabuse.gov/about-nida/noras-blog/2021/04/mourning-loss-great-addiction-pioneer