Dr. Herbert Kleber, one of the first major researchers to treat addiction as a disease, not a moral failing, is remembered by Google Doodle on the 23rd anniversary of his election to the National Academy of Medicine.
The Doodle, illustrated by Massachusetts-based artist and author Jarrett J. Krosoczka, celebrates Kleber, who throughout his 50-year career was recognized as a pioneer in the field of addiction research who revolutionized the way addiction is treated and viewed in the medical community.
According to Google, through his work “Dr. Kleber changed the landscape of addiction treatment, allowing patients to be diagnosed and treated rather than shamed—and saving countless lives in the process.”
Born on June 19, 1934, in Pittsburgh, Dr. Kleber’s medical career began at Dartmouth College where he studied pre-med, ultimately becoming a psychiatrist.
After completing his psychiatric residency at Yale University, Kleber began his work as a physician at a Kentucky federal prison where he treated inmates suffering from addiction.
At a time when addiction was seen as a moral failing, Kleber relied on “evidence-based treatment” — utilizing medication and therapy to prevent relapses.
In 1964, Dr. Kleber took a staff position at Yale University, where he founded the Drug Dependence Unit in 1968.
According to the Yale School of Medicine, “his unit conducted groundbreaking research on the phenomenology and treatment of opiate, stimulant, cannabis, and alcohol abuse,” including the first clinical trial of clonidine, the first non-opiate treatment for opiate dependence.
In 1989, Dr. Kleber left Yale after being appointed by President George H.W. Bush as deputy director for Demand Reduction at the Office of National Drug Control Policy.
According to Columbia University, as deputy director, Kleber “implemented policies that led to decreased demand for illegal drugs through programs in prevention, education, and treatment.”
Kleber co-founded the National Policy Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse in 1992—now the Center on Addiction—a national non-profit that aids families in the prevention and recovery of substance use and addiction.
Kleber and his then-wife, Dr. Marian W. Fischman, also established the Division of Substance Abuse at the Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, where he helped develop and improve medications used to treat addiction.
The research program is known as the largest and most successful of its kind in the country.
Dr. Kleber died last October at the age of 84. He was survived by his wife Anne Lawver and three children.