Renowned addiction science researcher wins state's most prestigious honor

Wanda Hutto Pierce
May 01, 2019
Dr. Kathleen Brady
Dr. Kathleen Brady

Gov. Henry McMaster recognized Kathleen Brady, M.D., Ph.D., for her extraordinary scientific contributions in psychiatry and addiction medicine with the 2019 Governor’s Award for Excellence in Science.

As vice president for Research and Distinguished University Professor, Brady has dedicated 30 years of service to the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC), addressing evidence-based treatments for alcohol and drug addiction as well as common co-occurring psychiatric disorders such as post-traumatic stress disorder, depression and bipolar disorder in civilians and military veterans.

Among the top 10 NIH-funded psychiatric researchers in the United States for the last nine years, Brady has been awarded more than $70 million dollars as the principal investigator in research grants, has led several NIH-funded center grants and has been the co-investigator on numerous additional grants. One such research project involves the NIH-funded Clinical Trials Network (CTN), designed to bridge academic medicine and addiction treatment centers to deliver evidence-based treatments to patients with addiction.

Through the CTN, Brady partnered with the South Carolina Department of Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse Services (DAODAS), as well as front-line treatment providers, to conduct multiple trainings and introducing new treatments for addictions across the state.

When the opioid crisis began to affect the citizens of South Carolina, Brady again partnered with DAODAS to conduct trainings about evidence-based, medication-assisted treatments for opioid use disorders to build treatment capacity in the state; develop mechanisms to offer treatment for opioid addiction via telehealth statewide; and initiate an innovative screening and brief intervention in emergency rooms for opioid addiction. This ongoing collaboration has already saved lives in South Carolina.

Brady’s leadership of the South Carolina Clinical and Translation Research Institute (SCTR) is another of her major contributions. SCTR is the only South Carolina site in the national Clinical and Translational Science Awards Program, a national network that seeks to provide the scientific foundation that accelerates the realization of interventions that improve human health.

SCTR’s mission is to catalyze the development of methods and technologies that lead to a more efficient translation of biomedical discoveries into interventions that improve health through an integrated academic home for translational research that provides essential support for innovative, efficient, multidisciplinary research and research training.

Under Brady’s leadership, SCTR has supported more than 1,600 investigators, 150 trainees and 1,000 peer-reviewed publications and has convened 20 statewide scientific retreats focused on South Carolina health priorities. SCTR has created collaborative efficiencies with a statewide cooperative institutional review board and a public-facing, comprehensive clinical trials listing.

In addition to her own scientific investigation, Brady has extended her impact on the field through her mentorship of several generations of investigators who are now producing research in these and other critical areas to further the understanding of addictive disorders and their treatments.

Hugh Myrick, M.D., associate chief of staff for Mental Health Services at the Ralph H. Johnson VA Medical Center has worked with Brady since his residency at MUSC. “Dr. Brady has a palpable passion for research and an incredible ability to normalize it so that any clinician will find it not only meaningful but have the desire to make their own contributions to further our understanding and treatment of mental health conditions.”

Widely recognized at the national and international level as a prolific leader in her field, she has published more than 380 manuscripts and five textbooks. She has given over 250 national and international scientific presentations.

Brady is currently the president of the International Society of Addiction Medicine and past president of both the  and Research in Substance Abuse and the American Academy of Addiction Psychiatry. In addition, she has served on numerous editorial boards, scientific advisory boards and federal grant review panels.

“Dr. Brady’s research in the field of psychiatry and addiction medicine has led to significant advances in how we care for our patients,” said MUSC President David J. Cole, M.D., FACS. “The clear, measurable outcomes she has achieved are evidence of her dedication to scientific excellence. This award represents a well-deserved recognition of Kathleen’s highly regarded stature within the scientific community and the notable reach of her research endeavors.”

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