Mark Willenbring, MD, is Director of the Treatment and Recovery Research Division of the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, part of the National Institutes of Health, and Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at George Washington University School of Medicine in Washington, DC. In his current position, he works to stimulate new research on treatment and recovery and health services, and to disseminate new research findings in order to facilitate their adoption. He is the principal author of the NIAAA publication, Helping Patients Who Drink Too Much: A Clinician’s Guide, which is widely used by health care professionals to help their patients overcome harmful alcohol use. Dr. Willenbring oversees a broad-based effort within NIAAA to support the development and clinical testing of new medications for alcohol dependence. He has spearheaded a leading-edge research effort to move beyond simple comparisons of different treatment approaches, and instead foster research to understand the underlying mechanisms involved in changes in drinking behavior both within and outside of the professional treatment context. He is playing a leading role in a new NIH Roadmap Initiative focused on the Science of Behavior Change, and he initiated a NIH Lecture Series on Mechanisms of Behavior Change in 2007-2008. Dr. Willenbring continues to see patients in his clinical practice, thus informing his scientific leadership with valuable real-world experience.
Prior to his current appointment he was Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Minnesota. In his research, he worked to develop and test innovative management strategies for patients with complex addiction problems, such as combined mental and addictive disorders, medically ill heavy drinkers, and homeless public inebriates. He has also played a leading role in development and implementation of evidence-based clinical practice guidelines for treating addictive disorders. He served as Co-Editor of the VA/DOD Clinical Practice Guideline for the Management of Substance Use Disorders and co-led a national initiative within the Department of Veterans Affairs to determine the utility and feasibility of implementing practice guidelines in the treatment of addictive disorders. More recently, he served as Co-Chair of the committee charged to develop quality indicators for treatment of substance use disorder for the National Committee for Quality Assurance.