Mark S. Gold, MD


Dr. Mark S. Gold is a teacher of the year, translational researcher, author, mentor and inventor best known for his work on the brain systems underlying the effects of opiate drugs, cocaine and food.  Gold was a Professor, Eminent Scholar, Distinguished Professor, Distinguished Alumni Professor , Chairman, Emeritus Eminent Scholar during his 25 years at the University of Florida.  He was the U.F. undergraduate Pre Med Advisor, Under-represented minority mentor, and teacher of the year at the College of Medicine.  His mentees include Institute Directors, Chairs, Professor, and Pharma CEOs.  He was a Founding Director of the McKnight Brain Institute, pioneering neuroscience – addiction researcher funded by the NIH-NIDA-Pharma, who also developed -taught courses and training programs at UF for undergraduates and medical students.

He has received numerous awards for his research and translating them into new treatments.  Principally, in addiction medicine, but also in endocrinology, nerve repair and cancer.  Gold’s work has been a critical part of the foundational science which established that drugs of abuse change the brain, are addicting on the basis of these changes, and can be successfully treated.  He has also suggested that some changes are more easily reversed than others and that dual disorders result from drug use rather than cause them.

He is an author and inventor who has published over 1000 peer reviewed scientific articles, 20 text books, popular-general audience books, and physician practice guidelines.  Gold was co-inventor of the use of clonidine in opioid withdrawal and the dopamine hypothesis for cocaine addiction and anhedonia.  Both revolutionized how neuroscientists and physicians thought about drugs of abuse, addiction, and the brain.  He pioneered the use of clonidine and lofexidine in the late ‘70s and early 80s which became the first non-opioid medication assisted therapies.  His first academic appointment was at Yale University School of Medicine in 1978.  Working with Herb Kleber he advanced his noradrenergic hyperactivity theory of opioid withdrawal and the use of clonidine and lofexidine to ameliorate these signs and symptoms.  During this time Gold and Kleber also worked on rapid detoxification with naloxone and induction on to Naltrexone.  Gold has studied Impaired Health Professionals since his work with oral Naltrexone at Yale in the late 70s and continued with studies of MDs in Florida.  

Working closely with Bart Hoebel at Princeton University and later Kelly Brownell at Yale , Gold helped develop the food addiction theory he posited in the 80s . With Nicole Avena, he worked on sugar self- administration models for hedonic overeating and developed new treatments for overeating and obesity. Kelly Brownell and Gold’s Oxford University Press’s textbook Food Addiction has been widely recognized as ground- breaking overeating and obesity research.  This work has also led to testing the food addiction hypothesis by treating hedonic overeating with anti-addiction pharmaceuticals.  While working on food and drug-like reinforcement systems has been an important part of his work for 30 years, he has also worked on dual disorders, Anorexia and Bulimia Nervosa.

Gold has been awarded many State and National awards for research and service over his long career. He has been awarded major national awards for his neuroscience research including the annual Foundations Fund Prize (APA) for the most important research in Psychiatry, DEA 30 Years of Service Pin, the McGovern Award for Lifetime Achievement (ASAM-ABAM 2015) for the most important contributions to the understanding and treatment of addiction, National Leadership Award (NAATP) from addiction practioners for helping us understand that addiction is a disease of the brain, DARE Lifetime Achievement Award for volunteer and prevention efforts, Silver Anvil from the PR Society of America for anti-drug prevention ads, PRIDE and DARE awards for his career in research and prevention (2015) and the PATH Foundation’s Lifetime Achievement Award (2016) as one of the “father’s” of addiction medicine and MAT presented to him by President Obama’s White House Drug Czar Michael Botticelli.  He was awarded Distinguished Alumni Awards at Yale University, U.F., and Washington University and the Wall of Fame at the U.F. College of Medicine. Gold was appointed (1990) by the University President to two terms as the University’s overall Distinguished Professor allowing him to mentor students and faculty from every College and Institute.  The University of Florida College of Medicine’s White Coat Ceremony for new medical students is named in his honor.

His research work is widely cited by his peers.  It includes citation classics in cocaine neurobiology, opioid addiction neurobiology and treatment, food and process addictions.  He has been called a groundbreaking researcher, father of medication assisted recovery, the first to translate rat experiments into theory and treatments for human addicts, mentor of the next generation of psychiatric researchers and clinicians.  Gold has did groundbreaking research on the thyroid, stress-anxiety, and metabolic states in mimics of naturally occurring psychiatric diseases.  He has trained many of the current leaders in Psychiatry, including Institute Directors, Pharma leaders, Professors, and Chairs.  Gold was also MD-PhD mentor and these mentees have become PIs studying sugar, second hand tobacco smoke, second hand opioid smoke, methamphetamine, TBI, and develop new treatments for addictions.

Since his retirement as a full-time academic in 2014, Gold has continued his teaching, mentoring, research, and writing as an Adjunct Professor in the Department of Psychiatry at Washington University and an active member of the Clinical Council at the Washington University School of Medicine’s Public Health Institute.  He has traveled extensively to help many States develop prevention, education, and treatment approaches to the Opioid crisis.  He not only developed one of the first ASAM training programs at the University of Florida in the early 90s, but has also helped to develop similar training programs in Georgia, Louisiana, and elsewhere.  Just the U.F. program had trained 80 physicians to become ASAM certified by his retirement.

He worked closely with the State of Florida Professionals Resource Network, Board of Medicine, and FMA on psychiatry and addiction competencies. He served on the Florida PRN BOD for over a decade, started their research and education programs, and developed young researchers to study impaired health professionals, addiction treatment and their treatment outcomes.  He is also been actively involved in national education regarding drugs of abuse, opioids, both for the private sector, States and for the DOJ- DEA.

He regularly lectures at Medical Schools, Grand Rounds around the USA and at international and national scientific meetings on his career, bench-to-bedside science in eating disorders, psychiatry, obesity, and addictions.

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