Dennis McCarty receives prestigious Kentucky award 2022

Dennis McCarty, Ph.D., an Emeritus Professor in the School of Public Health at the Portland State University and Oregon Health & Science University, has been inducted to the University of Kentucky College of Arts & Sciences Hall of Fame 2022.  This blog celebrates Dr McCarty‘s work and contribution to my research career. Please, see the event details below.

At the age of 31, I have been to a summer Institute on drugs at the University of Amsterdam, Netherlands* – no one could imagine a better place for this adventure. Dr McCarty lectured for several weeks on various policy models and evidence based treatments. Two years later, I’ve been sitting in an office down the hall from Dr McCarty’s office. I was writing my research report about the INVEST fellowship. I did not think that the summer school would lead to a fellowship in Portland, OR. I am most grateful that it did.

photo source: University of Kentucky

Dennis’s added:

“Thanks for maintaining contact after the Summer Institute and being willing to apply for and complete an INVEST Fellowship.”

International Visiting Scientists & Technical Exchange Program with Dennis McCarty (sponsored by National Institute on Drug Abuse)

The INVEST postdoctoral fellowship was a six months project in at Oregon Health and Science University in Portland, OR, studying implementation of alcohol screening and brief intervention (SBIRT) in primary- versus secondary-care based opioid agonist treatment (2013). Our paper in the Journal of Psychoactive Drugs (2015, 47:1, p.65-70) described the study. Training health care professionals in delivering alcohol SBIRT is feasible and acceptable for implementation among opioid agonist patients; however, it is not sufficient to maintain a sustainable change.

My INVEST fellowship was co-hosted by the members of the Western States Node from the Clinical Trials Network. The network has 13 nodes funded by the National Institute for Drug Abuse (NIDA) to conduct clinical trials in addiction science. From the very beginning of my fellowship, I have attended weekly meetings of the team – around 20 in total.

Dennis helped me to improve and expand my writing. I have read four books on writing, borrowed from him, during my fellowship. I’ve never read so much about writing in my life. Dennis introduced me to science writers, e.g. Atul Gawande or Carol Cruzan Morton, science writing, e.g., JRF publications, and science writing competition – the Wellcome trust prize. We met at the career crossroads – an emerging science apprentice and a seasoned mentor. He taught me that research project management is unlike any other research skillset: you don’t learn these things by reading books or in the classroom, but through the apprenticeship. He was not only my mentor, but at times, acted like my guide, counsellor, teacher, proof reader, father and friend.

With Dennis, I have learned about things I thought did not exist. For example, about researchers who actually enjoyed writing. Writing up research projects is a task that many new researchers fear the most. Dennis is a master writer and his craft is contagious; I’ve discovered a need in me, a strong urge to write a lot and in many different formats. I hope this ‘fire’ will keep on burning in my clinical and research work for at least another 30 years.


Western-States Node logo

In 2013, I was an INVEST researcher at the NIDA Western States Node in the Oregon Health& Science University in Portland, and a recent blog (link here) is a log about my experiences there. *Dr. Kristen G. Anderson is a professor of psychology at Reed College, Oregon, who leads the re-branded summer school on Mental Health, Youth and Society with Dr Helle Larsen.

For more information about the Dutch Summer School, please visit this link


From Psychology to Alcohol and Drug Policy

Brief biography provided by University of Kentucky: Dennis McCarty, a professor emeritus at the Oregon Health and Science University-Portland State University School of Public Health, was born in Chicago as the eldest of six children. His family moved from Illinois to Wisconsin and settled in Louisville, Kentucky. He earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology at the University of Kentucky in 1971 and continued to complete master’s (1976) and doctoral degrees (1978) in social psychology; he met his wife, Sarah, as a classmate in the psychology graduate program. His postdoctoral training in Alcohol Studies occurred at the University of North Carolina Medical School. He has studied the prevention and treatment of substance use disorders throughout his career.

In Portland, OR, Dr. McCarty assesses the organization, financing and quality of prevention and treatment services for alcohol and drug use disorders. He served as a principal investigator for the Western States Node of the National Drug Abuse Treatment Clinical Trials Network (2002-2018) and for the evaluation of the Network for the Improvement of Addiction Treatment (NIATx) and a series of NIATx extensions (2002-2018). He also led an assessment of the impacts of Oregon’s Coordinated Care Organizations on prevention and treatment for alcohol and drug use disorders (2014-2019).

McCarty served as a member of the Oregon Alcohol and Drug Policy Commission and the Lines for Life’s Oregon Coalition for Responsible Use of Medication initiative. He was the Academic Director for the University of Amsterdam’s Summer Institute on Alcohol, Drugs and Addiction – a two-week course that examined Dutch policy perspectives on drug use disorders. As the Director of Substance Abuse Services for the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (1989-1995), he collaborated with Massachusetts Medicaid to expand access to outpatient and detoxification services. His honors include a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Alcohol, Tobacco, and Other Drugs Section of the American Public Health Association (2012), and Fellow status in the College of Problems on Drug Dependence (2019), and the American Psychological Association (2007). In his spare time, he and his wife enjoy birding and wildlife watching. Text taken from:

“The event gives me an opportunity to acknowledge and thank the people who have given me opportunities,” – Dennis McCarty

Hall of Fame Event details

2022 Arts & Sciences Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony & Reception

  • Date: Friday, September 30, 2022
  • Time: 6:00 pm (EDT)
  • Venue: Gatton Student Center – Worsham Cinema, 160 Avenue of Champions, Lexington, Kentucky

The ceremony includes the showing of a five minute video reviewing career highlights, which will be available online after the event.

If you enjoyed reading this post, see also this blog from July 2012:

Research-into-practice: US drugs expert talks in Ballyfermot