HERBERT KLEBER

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KLEBER--Dr. Herbert D.

A pioneer of addiction research and treatment, died on Friday, while traveling in Europe with his wife and his family. At the time of his death, Dr. Kleber was Professor of Psychiatry and Emeritus Director of the Division on Substance Use Disorders at the Columbia University Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons and the New York State Psychiatric Institute. Over the course of his 50-year career, he and his colleagues probed the pathology of addiction, and developed treatments to mitigate withdrawal and promote recovery. At the time Dr. Kleber began his career, substance abuse was not a major focus of biomedical research and clinical medicine. Thus, his career importantly contributed to the emergence of addiction and substance use disorders as a focus of research and treatment by the medical profession. Dr. Kleber's research began with his fortuitous deployment for his military service to the U.S. Federal Prison in Lexington, KY, the federal forerunner to the National Institute on Drug Abuse and the primary locus for narcotic addiction treatment and research. There he developed a clinical approach to treating inmates, which differed from the moralistic and social deviance context in which addiction was viewed at the time. However, it was his appreciation of the lack of a scientific understanding of the pathological basis of addiction and empirically based treatments that fueled his pursuit of addiction research and treatment when he completed his service and took a faculty position at Yale where he started the Substance Abuse Treatment Service at the Connecticut Mental Health Center and the Addiction, Prevention, and Treatment Foundation. Dr. Kleber's pioneering efforts were elevated to the policy level with his appointment as Deputy Director for Demand Reduction at the Office of National Drug Control Policy by President George H.W. Bush. Working under Director William Bennett, he implemented policies that led to decreased demand for illegal drugs through programs in prevention, education and treatment. He also co-founded, along with former Health and Human Services Secretary Joseph Califano, the National Policy Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse. Through these efforts, Dr. Kleber raised the consciousness of academic medicine, health care providers and health policy makers to the importance of substance use disorders and addiction. Herbert David Kleber grew up in Pittsburgh, PA. His undergraduate education was at Dartmouth College, his medical training at Thomas Jefferson Medical School in Philadelphia, and his psychiatric residency at Yale University School of Medicine. Following his government service at the U.S. Federal Prison in Lexington, KY, faculty position at Yale, and appointment in the Bush 41 administration, he joined the Department of Psychiatry, at the Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons and the New York State Psychiatric Institute where he established, with his late wife Dr. Marian W. Fischman, what became one of the largest and most successful research programs on substance abuse in the country, recognized perennially as such in the U.S. News and World Report's rankings of medical school specialties. Relentless in his pursuit of better treatments, up until the time of his death, Dr. Kleber was pursuing improved strategies for inducting individuals with opioid use disorders onto medication assisted treatments. Both at Yale and Columbia, he mentored generations of clinical researchers who went on to become leaders in the substance abuse field. He is mourned by his friends and colleagues and survived by his wife, Anne Burlock Lawver; children, Dr. Elizabeth Kleber, Dr. Marc Kleber, and Pamela Shad; daughter-in-law, Judith Kleber; sons-in-law Thomas Richards and Rees Shad; six grandchildren and a great-granddaughter. Funeral services will be held at the Riverside Memorial Chapel in Manhattan on Sunday, October 14th at 12:30pm. In lieu of flowers, donations can be sent to CPDD (College of Problems on Drug Dependence) with a note indicating that it is for the Herbert D. Kleber Memorial Fund. From the Columbia University Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons and the New York State Psychiatric Institute Jeffrey Lieberman, M.D., Chair of Psychiatry; Frances R. Levin, M.D., Director, Division on Substance Use Disorders; Lee Goldman, M.D., Executive VP of Health Sciences & Dean of Medicine; Ann Sullivan, M.D., Commissioner of Mental Health; Lloyd Sederer, M.D., Chief Medical Officer

Published in The New York Times on Oct. 11, 2018
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