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March 27, 2017

Former White House Drug Czar To Join Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School

Michael Botticelli, MEd, former White House Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy, will join the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health as its Distinguished Policy Scholar beginning in June.

Botticelli led the Obama Administration’s drug policy efforts, leveraging public health and public safety strategies to advance innovative drug policy approaches focusing on prevention, evidence-based treatment and recovery. Botticelli has been in recovery from substance use disorder for 28 years. He has encouraged the millions of Americans in recovery today to make their voices heard and confront the stigma associated with substance use disorders, which often keeps individuals from seeking and receiving treatment. 

As Distinguished Policy Scholar, Botticelli will join the Department of Health Policy and Management and work with faculty, students, alumni and others in the Hopkins community on various initiatives over the next 12 months to combat the opioid epidemic and reduce stigma. Botticelli will follow Congressman Henry Waxman of California who served as Distinguished Policy Scholar at the Bloomberg School last year.

Botticelli joins the School as it undertakes the Bloomberg American Health Initiative, a project funded by a $300 million-dollar gift from Bloomberg Philanthropies to tackle the nation’s most pressing public health threats, including addiction and overdose, environmental challenges, obesity and the food system, risks to adolescent health and violence.   

“This is an exciting opportunity for our School, our students and the whole Hopkins community to work with and learn from a tremendous public health leader who has been a champion for individuals and families affected by the crisis of addiction and overdose deaths in our country,” says Colleen Barry, PhD, MPP, Fred and Julie Soper Professor and Chair of the Department of Health Policy and Management at the School. “Over his extraordinary career working in public health, Michael Botticelli has demonstrated a strong dedication to the use of research evidence to inform policy design and this perspective makes him a great partner for us at Hopkins. He has also worked throughout his career to combat stigma at a very personal level – through his willingness to speak publicly about his own experiences in long-term recovery.”

Increases in prescription opioid use over the past two decades have led to an epidemic of addiction and overdose deaths in the United States. More Americans now die of opioid overdoses from prescription painkillers and drugs like heroin and fentanyl than from car crashes and gun violence combined. In 2015, over 50,000 Americans died from drug overdoses, the most ever, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“We are in the midst of the worst overdose crisis in the history of our country and we need to find ways to reverse this devastating epidemic,” Botticelli says. “This is the right moment for me to join the Bloomberg School where we can work together to find solutions.”

 “The opioid crisis is an all-hands-on-deck moment for public health,” said Joshua M. Sharfstein, MD, inaugural director of the Bloomberg American Health Initiative. “We look forward to working with Michael Botticelli to develop solutions for communities across the country.”

Prior to joining the Office of National Drug Control Policy, Botticelli was Director of the Bureau of Substance Abuse Services at the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, where he expanded innovative and nationally recognized prevention, intervention, treatment and recovery services. He initiated and developed partnerships with local, state and federal law enforcement agencies, state and local health and human services agencies, and stakeholders to guide and implement evidence-based programs. He was recently named inaugural executive director of the Grayken Center for Addiction Medicine at Boston Medical Center.

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Media contacts: Susan Murrow at  410-955-7624 or smurrow1@jhu.edu and Barbara Benham at 410)-614-6029 or bbenham1@jhu.edu.