Litten Appointed as New Director of NIAAA Division of Treatment and Recovery

Raye Z. Litten, Ph.D., has been appointed Director of the Division of Treatment and Recovery (DTR) at the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA). Dr. Litten joined NIAAA in 1989 and previously served as Associate Director of the Division of Treatment and Recovery Research, Acting Director of the Division of Medications Development, and Acting Director of the Division of Treatment and Recovery Research.

As DTR Director, Dr. Litten leads a broad program of extramural clinical research that focuses on improving treatments for alcohol use disorder (AUD), increasing the use and uptake of such treatments in real-world settings, and understanding the process of recovery from AUD.

During his tenure at NIAAA, Dr. Litten has been instrumental in expanding NIAAA’s medications development research program. He helped establish the NIAAA Clinical Investigations Group, a network of clinical sites that conducts proof-of-concept, Phase II clinical trials of promising AUD medications. He also was key in establishing NIAAA’s human laboratory program to efficiently screen compounds for safety and effectiveness prior to clinical trial testing, helping to overcome the “valleys of death” in medications development. Dr. Litten has also worked to promote the combined use of behavioral and medication treatments and to strengthen NIAAA’s biomarkers and health services research portfolios. Currently, he oversees the development of a new educational resource titled “The Healthcare Professional’s Core Resource on Alcohol” to help them better recognize the effects of alcohol in their patients and deliver improved care for those whose drinking may be affecting their health.

Dr. Litten says, “I am grateful for this opportunity to continue to play an active role in this vital part of NIAAA’s portfolio of research and research translation. In addition to our ongoing efforts to create evidence-based treatment resources for people with AUD and the clinicians who care for them, DTR staff and other NIAAA scientists have unveiled a universal definition of recovery that can be used across research studies, and as a tool for clinicians. The new recovery definition will enable us to compare findings, identify which behavioral and pharmacological treatments have long-term efficacies and for whom, and invest resources into those treatments that will truly make a difference. We also are working to understand the different phases of recovery—such as short, medium, and long term—and how they relate to the likelihood of returning to heavy drinking.”

Hagman, B.T.; Falk D.; Litten, R.; and Koob, G.F. Defining recovery from alcohol use disorder: Development of an NIAAA research definition. The American Journal of Psychiatry. In press. PMID: 35410494