Home > NewsRelease > Dr. Nora Volkow — Director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) (#673)
Dr. Nora Volkow — Director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) (#673)
Tim Ferriss - Productivity, Digital Lifestyles and Entrepreneurship Tim Ferriss - Productivity, Digital Lifestyles and Entrepreneurship
For Immediate Release:
Dateline: San Francisco, CA
Thursday, May 25, 2023

Illustration via 99designs

“I do not take no for an answer. And this is a message that I say to young people, “You should dare to do things. And no one has the right to say, ‘You cannot bring a new perspective into things.’ And so, I always say ‘Be daring and persevere.’”

— Dr. Nora Volkow

Nora D. Volkow, MD, is Director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) at the National Institutes of Health. NIDA is the world’s largest funder of scientific research on the health aspects of drug use and addiction. Dr. Volkow’s work has been instrumental in demonstrating that drug addiction is a brain disorder. As a research psychiatrist, Dr. Volkow pioneered the use of brain imaging to investigate how substance use affects brain functions. In particular, her studies have documented how changes in the dopamine system affect the functions of brain regions involved with reward and self-control in addiction. She has also made important contributions to the neurobiology of obesity, ADHD, and aging.

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#673: Dr. Nora Volkow — Director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA)

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Want to hear another episode with someone on the front lines of drug research? Listen to my conversation with Dr. Suresh Muthukumaraswamy in which we discuss the durability of antidepressant effects from certain psychedelic therapies, improving the impact of scientific research, the obstacles to getting ketamine labeled as an antidepressant, the difficulty of applying placebo controls to psychedelic research, the training of clinical personnel in new science as it becomes available, avoiding another 50 years of psychedelic research darkness, and much more.

#619: Dr. Suresh Muthukumaraswamy — LSD Microdosing, Classical Psychedelics vs. Ketamine, Science and Speed in New Zealand, Placebo Options, and The Infinite Possibilities of Studying Mind-Altering Compounds

What was your favorite quote or lesson from this episode? Please let me know in the comments.



  • Follow the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA):

Website | Nora’s Blog | Twitter | Facebook


  • [06:09] Cadaver homework.
  • [09:07] The Trotsky connection.
  • [17:07] How Nora’s father viewed the role of science.
  • [20:59] Julian Villarreal.
  • [27:38] A perspective of perseverance.
  • [33:48] Instilling perseverance in younger scientists.
  • [35:08] Dancing with Demerol.
  • [40:05] The current state of addiction in the US.
  • [44:28] The War on Drugs.
  • [49:42] Increasing societal confidence in therapeutic psychedelics.
  • [55:38] Advice for researchers seeking more federal funding.
  • [1:02:12] Gauging the value of the hallucinogenic experience.
  • [1:06:04] Implications for multiple applications of one compound.
  • [1:13:36] Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) and a promising alternative.
  • [1:19:49] New hope for Parkinson’s disease sufferers?
  • [1:23:51] Comorbidities, addiction considerations, and other parting thoughts.


“… Science should be guided by data, but science has a religious nature to it also. And once a model is created, it becomes very difficult to change it. And it takes a long, long time for concepts that have been consolidated, as accepted as the truth, to be questioned.”
— Dr. Nora Volkow

“I do not take no for an answer. And this is a message that I say to young people, “You should dare to do things. And no one has the right to say, ‘You cannot bring a new perspective into things.’ And so, I always say ‘Be daring and persevere.’”
— Dr. Nora Volkow

“In terms of the war on drugs, I think that basically what it did was it created a mechanism that could perpetuate structural racism. It is very tragic to see how its enforcement led to the incarceration of young black Americans.”
— Dr. Nora Volkow


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Name: Tim Ferriss
Title: Author, Princeton University Guest Lecturer
Group: Random House/Crown Publishing
Dateline: San Francisco, CA United States
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