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The White House
For Immediate Release

White House Drug Policy Director Visits Morehouse School of Medicine To Discuss Substance Abuse Prevention, Intervention, and Treatment

Atlanta, GA. – Today, Gil Kerlikowske, Director of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP), Dr. Sandra Harris-Hooker, Interim Dean of Academic Affairs and Vice President and Senior Associate Dean for Research Affairs at Morehouse School of Medicine, Dr. Gail A. Mattox, Director of the Center for Excellence, and Chair of the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Morehouse School of Medicine, and Dr. Ileana Arias, Principal Deputy Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, met to discuss Morehouse School of Medicine’s efforts to train the next generation of medical providers to recognize and refer substance abuse problems, and its role in preventing drug abuse among 18-24 year olds through the Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) Center for Excellence.

HBCUs have a rich legacy of preparing African American leaders who go on to make invaluable contributions to the professional and academic landscape of our Nation. Seventy percent of the Nation’s African American physicians and dentists have earned degrees at a historically black college or university.

“Morehouse School of Medicine is carrying forward the legacy of HBCUs by training the next generation of medical practitioners, who, through screening and early intervention, have the potential to save millions of dollars in healthcare costs. More importantly, they can save the lives of individuals and preserve families,” Director Kerlikowske said.

Studies indicate that most healthcare spending related to substance abuse goes to addiction’s avoidable, catastrophic consequences, rather than to its treatment. “The healthcare system can avoid enormous human and economic costs if care providers consistently screen and intervene with early-stage substance abuse, before it becomes acutely life threatening,” Kerlikowske said.

In addition to training some of the country’s best medical practitioners, the Morehouse School of Medicine also houses the HBCU Center for Excellence. With funding from Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), this center facilitates coordination among HBCU institutions to support culturally appropriate substance abuse and mental health prevention, treatment, and student health and wellness needs on HBCU campuses.

“I applaud the Morehouse School of Medicine’s leadership in creating the HBCU Center for Excellence,” said Kerlikowske. “The Center for Excellence has the opportunity to provide evidence-based substance abuse prevention programs to thousands of students attending the 105 HBCUs across the country.”

For more information about the Office of National Drug Control Policy and its programs visit: