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Google Honours Dr Herbert Kleber

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Google Honours Dr Herbert Kleber

A legendary scientist who pioneered addiction psychology, Dr Herbert David Kleber was honoured by Google with a Doodle on the 23rd anniversary of his election to the National Academy of Medicine, a volunteer organization that provides advice on health and medical advice. Dr Herbert Kleber dedicated his life to treating the drug addiction.

His 50 years of continuous efforts were directed towards studying the causes of substance abuse and developing treatments to reduce the effects of withdrawal. Dr Kleber’s work revolutionised the way addiction is viewed and treated and helped save countless lives.

Dr Kleber was born in Pittsburgh on 19 June 1934. Prompting to be his father who wished to be a doctor himself, he attended Dartmouth College (now known as Sidney Kimmel Medical College) in Philadelphia where he studied pre-med and discovered his passion in psychology. However, he discovered his life’s mission after being assigned to prison upon completing his psychiatric residency at Yale University in 1964 as an obligation by volunteering for the United States Public Health Service.

The American psychiatrist and pioneering substance abuse researcher began his career in a time when substance abuse was not the major focus of research for the medical community. Herbert Kleber’s research started when he was deployed to a prison hospital in Lexington, Kentucky where inmates were being treated for addiction. He was a pioneer in researching the pathology of addiction and in developing treatments to help patients reduce the severe discomforts of withdrawal, avoid relapse and stay in recovery.

Unlike various other doctors, Dr Kleber started to study addiction as a medical condition and developed an “evidence-based treatment” instead of pursuing it as a failure of moral character after he noticed the majority of patients relapsing. He relied on the research and science to change the path for addiction treatment and elevated the study of addiction to a discipline. Throughout his career, the field attracted increasing clinical interest and research funding.

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In 1964, after returning to Yale, he took a faculty position at the Yale University School of Psychiatry, where he founded and headed the Drug Dependent Unit for more than two decades. He was brought to the attention of President George H.W. Bush who offered him to serve as deputy director of the Demand Reduction at the Office of National Drug Control Policy. In his role, he implemented various policies that led to a decreased demand for illegal drugs through programs in prevention, education and treatment.

In his career, Kleber ensured transferring his knowledge as he mentored various researchers at Yale and Columbia University. He published more than 250 papers on addiction and its treatment along with being co-editor of the American Psychiatric Press Textbook of Substance Abuse Treatment.

He founded various centres aimed at treating addiction including co-founding national Centre on addiction and substance abuse, Dr Kleber and his then-wife Marian W Fischman established the Division on Substance Abuse at the Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons – which later became one of the largest and most successful research programs on substance abuse in the country.

On October 1, 1996, was elected as a member of the prestigious Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Science. Being one of the few to pioneer research and provide scientific solutions for addiction, Dr Herbery Kleber played a significant role in viewing addiction more than just a moral lacking of someone and saved various lives.

The Google Doodle also appears a few days before his first death anniversary on 5th October. He passed away last year while vacating in Greece with his wife, Anne Burlock Lawver, his son, Marc and His daughter-in-law, Judith. Marc confirmed his father’s death and said that his father died of a heart attack on the island of Santorini at the age of 84.

The Optimist Approach That Revolutionized Millions of Lives

Dr Kleber responded to being asked at his Senate confirmation hearing to be deputy drug czar (informal title for certain high-level officials in the United States and the United Kingdom) about his optimism after dealing drug addicts for so many decades by quoting a paraphrase from the Talmud, “The day is short. The task is difficult. It is not our duty to finish it, but we are forbidden not to try.”

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