Theodore J. Cicero, PhD, has been honored by the College of Problems of Drug Dependence (CPDD) with the 2010 Nathan B. Eddy Award for his pioneering research efforts in the field of drug addiction, research and treatment.
The Eddy Award is presented annually to a scientist who has made outstanding contributions in drug abuse research. Cicero, a professor of neuropharmacology in psychiatry and of neurobiology at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, has spent most of his career studying the neuroendocrine effects of opioids (narcotics) and the role of endogenous hormones in the use and abuse of these drugs.
The studies with opiate drugs led to further research that has established the crucial and essential role that endogenous opioids play in the control of hormonal functions in all species, including humans. His research demonstrated that patients who take narcotics for chronic pain can have impaired production of sex hormones. This condition is now recognized clinically as an important side effect of opioid pain management in men and women, and it leads not only to impaired sexual function but, just as importantly, also influences the action of the opiate drugs themselves in pain management.
“Receiving the Eddy Award is a tremendous honor,” Cicero says. “I’m humbled that my research, largely in male and female animals 30 to 40 years ago, has been extended and confirmed in humans. Most gratifying is that our research focusing on substance abuse has led to basic neurobiological advances in our understanding of how the brain controls hormonal activity.”
Cicero’s recent work focuses on how substances of abuse may influence genes and affect the heritability of alcoholism and other drug abuse.
Cicero earned a master’s degree in physiological psychology and a doctorate in neuropharmacology from Purdue University. He came to Washington University School of Medicine in 1970 as an assistant professor of neuropsychobiology in the Department of Psychiatry. He has been the department’s vice chairman for research since 1992. In addition, he served as Washington University’s vice chancellor for research from 1996-2006.
Cicero is an author of more than 200 peer-reviewed scientific papers, as well as numerous book chapters. He is a past-president of the CPDD and serves on the organization’s board of directors. He also is a Life Fellow of the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology as well as a member of the Society for Neuroscience and the International Narcotics Research Conference. In addition to serving on editorial boards for several scientific journals, he has chaired and served on a variety of committees and review boards for the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the Food and Drug Administration and the CPDD.
The Nathan B. Eddy Memorial Award was established in memory of one of the pioneers in the field of drug dependence following his death in 1973. The award acknowledges outstanding research efforts that have advanced our knowledge of drug dependence. Awardees receive $10,000, a plaque and gold medal, and are invited to deliver a major lecture. Cicero will address the CPDD just after he receives the Eddy Award Sunday, June 13, at the plenary session of the CPDD’s 72nd annual meeting in Scottsdale, Ariz.
Washington University School of Medicine’s 2,100 employed and volunteer faculty physicians also are the medical staff of Barnes-Jewish and St. Louis Children’s hospitals. The School of Medicine is one of the leading medical research, teaching and patient care institutions in the nation, currently ranked fourth in the nation by U.S. News & World Report. Through its affiliations with Barnes-Jewish and St. Louis Children’s hospitals, the School of Medicine is linked to BJC HealthCare.