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Renowned addiction specialist Charles O'Brien to receive prestigious French Legion of Honor Medal

University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine


IMAGE: Charles P. O'Brien, M.D., Ph.D., the Kenneth Appel Professor in the department of Psychiatry at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, has been selected to receive... view more

Credit: Penn Medicine

Charles P. O'Brien, MD, PhD, the Kenneth Appel Professor in the department of Psychiatry at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, has been selected to receive the Medal of Chevalier (Knight) of the French National Order of the Legion of Honor, one of the country's highest honors.

An internationally renowned expert on alcohol dependency and public policy, Dr. O'Brien will receive the honor during the 2013 European and International Congress on Addiction, Hepatitis, AIDS in Biarritz, France on October 10, for which he will also serve as honorary president.

Dr. O'Brien is being bestowed the honor because of his personal commitment to French-American relations as symbolized by his exceptional cooperation in science and public health. The partnerships he has established with French research units were described as a blueprint for French-American scientific exchanges, a priority for the government and source of hope for the caregivers who will benefit from it.

"It's a great honor and privilege to be recognized with the Legion of Honor Medal," said Dr. O'Brien. "The exchanges over more than 20 years have consisted of Penn faculty teaching in France, exchanges at the post-doc level, medical students and joint research projects. They have been nurtured by activities of the Penn French Institute and they have enriched academic work on both sides of the Atlantic."

Dr. O'Brien has made many important discoveries and contributions over the past 30 years that have become the standard of care in addiction treatment throughout the world. Aside from developing medications to treat alcohol, opioid, and cocaine dependence, his work has also increased the understanding of the clinical aspects of addiction and the neurobiology of relapse.

Dr. O'Brien received his MD and PhD degrees from Tulane University, and received residency training in psychiatry, neurology, and medicine at Harvard, the University of London, Tulane and the University of Pennsylvania. He also has an honorary doctorate from the University of Bordeaux Segalen in France. He is board-certified in psychiatry, neurology and addiction psychiatry.

Among his numerous honors, Dr. O'Brien was elected to the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences in 1991, and received the Nathan B. Eddy award for research from the College on Problems of Drug Dependence in 2003. In 2013 he received two international awards for discoveries in the treatment of alcoholism: the Jellinek Award in Canada and the Isaacson Award in Japan. He has advised our national government on drug policy for decades, and was the President of the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology, and the Association for Research in Nervous and Mental Disease.

Dr. O'Brien is the vice-chair of Psychiatry at Penn, and the founder and immediate past director of the Center for Studies in Addiction.

Today, Dr. O'Brien also serves as chair of the Penn Commission on Student Safety, Alcohol and Campus Life, which was created in January 2013. The Commission will review the status of student social life at Penn with a primary focus on consumption of alcohol and other drugs and the consequences for student conduct, and make recommendations for enhanced or new programs, policies, and practices to improve the quality and safety of student life.


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