Memorial Awards Obituaries


You can honor any RSA member with a donation to the Memorial Award Fund.  Funds, which have been generously donated, by members and non-members alike, are used to support these awards.  Awardees are selected, each year, from students and post-docs that present within symposia at the meeting.  Each awardee is acknowledged during their symposia presentation and will receive a travel stipend.

If we failed to include a member who has passed away within the past ten years please let us know.

Dr. Louise Floyd, an RSA and FASD Emeritus Member, passed away on August 11, 2023. A former lead of CDC’s FAS Prevention Team, Dr. Floyd was a recognized expert in alcohol use during pregnancy and FASDs and contributed tremendously to the development of the FAS prevention program over the years at CDC. She won the Rosett Award from the FASD Study Group in 2010. Well known for her generosity, family orientation, and devotion as a mother, she was also career-driven and vivacious. She graduated from Berea College with a Bachelor of Science degree in nursing and earned her master's in nursing at Emory University. She then completed the Pediatric Nurse Practitioner program at the University of Alabama Birmingham, where she earned her doctorate in nursing.

Dr. Ann Streissguth, an RSA and FASD Emeritus Member, passed away on August 1, 2023. An internationally renowned expert on fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASD), Dr. Streissguth and colleagues published the first study identifying “fetal alcohol syndrome” in the United States and its link to maternal alcohol consumption during pregnancy. Dr. Streissguth was both an outstanding clinical investigator and a great humanitarian who cared deeply about the communities affected by prenatal alcohol exposure. Trained in clinical psychology, Dr. Streissguth was a professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at the University of Washington School of Medicine.

Dr. John Littleton, an RSA Member since 1998, passed away peacefully on May 1st, 2023, following a courageous fight against pancreatic cancer. John studied Pharmacology and Medicine as an MD, PhD student at Kings College, London University in England. After departing Kings College, John received a Wellcome Foundation Fellowship to follow his passion for plant-based drug discovered to the University of Kentucky, where he spent the remainder of his career.  John collaborated with colleagues from the Kentucky College of Agriculture using innovative methods of plant mutagenesis and high throughput pharmacological screening in plant cell cultures to identify new compounds with therapeutic potential.  This work led to the identification of several lead compounds that demonstrated preclinical efficacy in reducing the effects of alcohol on the central nervous system. John is survived by his partner Dr. Susan Barron; daughter Elise and their cat Sparkle. He will be remembered for his brilliance, innovativeness and his loves of soccer and a cold pint.

Dr. Enoch Gordis, an RSA Member since 1980 and former Director of NIAAA (1986-2002) passed away on April 5th, 2023. He was born on February 21, 1931 in New York City. Dr. Gordis earned his Bachelor, at Columbia University, 1950 and Doctor of Medicine, at Columbia University, 1954. After an extensive research career at Mount Sinai School of Medicine and Rockefeller University, he was named director of NIAAA. In 2002, to honor Dr. Gordis, RSA initiated the Enoch Gordis Research Recognition Awards (EGRR) which are awarded to graduate students and post-doctoral fellows. Each year, the finalists present a first author poster and a paper session oral presentation during the RSA Annual Scientific Conference. There have been 95 EGRR’s awarded to date. A fixture at RSA meetings, he will be missed.

Dr. George Fein
died on February 23, 2023. He was born in New York City. A Social Science Research Council Fellow at Harvard University, he received a Ph.D. in Psychology from CUNY in 1976. After some time at the NY State Psychiatric Institute, George conducted clinical research in aging, disease, and addiction at the San Francisco VA Medical Center and UC San Francisco, where he was a Professor of Medical Psychology and Radiology. Two decades later, George founded Neurobehavioral Research, Inc. with the goal of developing technology to advance his research ideas in addiction treatment. He moved his home and enterprise to Hawaii in 2005, most recently pursuing neurofeedback to train the brain in recovery from alcoholism. George never really retired. His scientific prowess and generous spirit will be sorely missed.

Mrs. Rae Peurifoy, RSA Administrative Assistant (1990-2010), passed away on April 9, 2022, after a lengthy “life with dementia”. In 1990, Rae became an invaluable member of the RSA team through her retirement in 2010; she did work the meetings through 2014 (she enjoyed the meetings and loved to travel). She brought much creativity to her position (remember the hand-drawn program covers and t-shirts we sold – that was all her artwork!). She witnessed the rapid growth of the society’s membership and meeting attendance through the 90’s and never faltered in her professionalism at the RSA Desk and brought a smile to many. She will be dearly missed.

Dr. John Spitzer passed away on January 20th, 2022. He was born on March 9, 1927 in Baja Hungary. He attended medical school of the Universities of Budapest, Vienna, and Munich. He received his Physician's Diploma (Magna Cum Laude) in 1950, from the University of Munich. After brief stints in Florida and NY, he moved to Philadelphia where he assumed a position at Hahnemann Medical School in Philadelphia (1961-1973). A longtime RSA member, Dr. Spitzer led the Department of Physiology at LSUHSC since 1973 until his retirement in 2001. 

Dr. Richard Saitz passed away on January 15th, 2022 from from pancreatic cancer. He was 58. Rich, a professor of medicine/GIM and professor & chair of Community Health Sciences at Boston University School of Medicine, had an international reputation in both alcohol and drug addiction research. His mantra was “follow the evidence.” Additionally, Rich committed himself to the advancement of junior colleagues serving as a mentor to many, both in the USA and internationally. Rich was an RSA Member since 2001.

Dr. Nadia Chaudhri passed away on October 5th, 2021 from ovarian cancer.  Dr. Chaudhri was Professor of Psychology at Concordia University, and recent Director of the Center for Studies in Behavioral Neurobiology, in Montreal, Canada.  Although her life was unkindly shortened, her contributions during her forty-three years were many. Dr. Chaudhri enhanced our understanding of behavioral and neural mechanisms of alcohol and drug addiction, contributed to her university department and research center, and trained a generation of behavioral neuroscientists, all while developing an increasing focus on equity. Her legacy lives on through the Nadia Chaudhri Rising Scholar Awards:  Nadia Chaudhri Rising Scholar Awards

Dr. Angela (Angee) Stevens passed away on August 1, 2021. Angee was a postdoctoral research fellow at Brown University’s Center for Alcohol and Addiction Studies (CAAS) where she was beloved for her outstanding collaborative ability, leadership, and exemplary research skills. Angee has been a member of the RSA community since 2013 when she began her academic career at Texas Tech University. Her research interests included the interplay of impulsivity, impaired control, and problematic alcohol and cannabis use in young adults. She also was committed to advocating for the use of harm reduction strategies to address the current overdose epidemic. Beyond her many accomplishments and a promising research career, Angee was a wonderful human being. She was genuine, kind, humble, warm, and was inspiring in the level of integrity she brought to her work and her life. Angee was also exceptionally generous with her time and knowledge in helping others.

Dr. Mary Jeanne Kreek passed away March 27, 2021. Dr. Kreek, a long-term RSA member, was best known for her research into the biology of drug and alcohol addiction. A pioneer in addiction research whose science led to methadone and buprenorphine treatments for opioid use disorders, her work not only yielded new treatments for these disorders, but also influenced societal attitudes toward them.

Dr. Samuel W. French passed away December 25, 2020 at 94. Dr. French was an exceptional pathologist, educator and researcher with tireless and insatiable academic passion for more than half a century.  His prolific and original research particularly on alcoholic liver disease (ALD), resulted in nearly 500 publications.  His seminal contributions to science on hypoxia, nutrition, and Mallory-Denk bodies in ALD, were recognized by highest honors including Lifetime Achievement Award by Research Society on Alcoholism and Gold Headed Cane Award by American Society for Investigative Pathology.  Many of us are beneficiaries of his professionalism and friendship to which we are deeply indebted.

Dr. Forrest F. Weight, Jr. passed away from heart disease on November 14, 2020. Forrest had a long and productive career in the NIH intramural program, beginning in the early 1960’s at NIMH until his retirement as Chief of the Laboratory of Cellular and Molecular Neurobiology, NIAAA, in the mid-2000’s. He mentored a number of successful alcohol researchers, and together they moved the field toward a more molecular understanding of alcohol actions on the brain. His awards included the NIH Director’s Award in 1994. An engaging conversationalist, his many interests included music, travel, skiing, and entertaining in his antebellum townhouse in Frederick, Maryland.

Dr. Linda Patia Spear passed away October 13, 2020. She was a Distinguished Professor Emerita in the Department of Psychology, at the State University of New York at Binghamton. Linda served as director of the Developmental Exposure Alcohol Research Center (DEARC) and was a major force in the Neurobiology of Adolescent Drinking in Adulthood (NADIA) consortium. Linda’s exceptional service to the NIH included serving on the NIAAA Steering Committee for Underage Drinking Prevention, NIAAA’s Extramural Advisory Board and on the National Advisory Council. Linda was a long-time member of the Research Society on Alcoholism, and made important contributions to the RSA as a Program Co-Chair and on the Nomination committee.

Dr. Maria Anna Leo-Lieber passed away September 23, 2020. Maria left Italy to specialize in Hepatology in the late Charles S. Lieber's laboratory. She became the scientific partner and the partner in life to Charles Lieber. As a physician, she touched many people’s lives with her warmth and intelligence. Let us remember the human and scientific contributions made by Maria A. Leo Lieber.

Dr. Emanuel (Manny) Rubin passed away February 13, 2020 following a brief illness.  Dr. Rubin was internationally recognized as a leading academic pathologist with an all-encompassing knowledge of molecular pathology and as an outstanding investigator of the alcohol-induced pathogenesis of heart and liver disease. During the course of his career, Dr. Rubin established the Alcohol Research Center, first at Hahnemann University, then at Jefferson.  This Center is now recognized as an outstanding program focused of the molecular basis of alcohol-related diseases. It is no surprise that Manny Rubin received the well-earned Lifetime Achievement Award from RSA. And he served as chairman of the editorial board of Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research (ACER) for several years. 

Dr. R. Thomas Gentry passed away on September 9, 2019. A career scientist and devoted husband, father, and grandfather, Tom had two great loves in his life: family, and the pursuit of knowledge. As an undergraduate he discovered his passion for science and human behavior, and his purpose in promoting a more peaceful world. Tom earned his PhD at the University of Massachusetts with a focus on endocrinology and behavior. He served as program director at the National Institutes of Health, National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. Tom specialized in alcoholism models, alcohol pharmacokinetics and metabolism, and showing his lab rats to children. An RSA member since 1987, he will be missed.

Dr. James R. Trudell passed away on July 29, 2019. Dr. Trudell was Professor of Chemistry in the Department of Anesthesiology, Perioperative and Pain Medicine at Stanford University School of Medicine, a faculty member of Bio-X and Wu Tsai Neurosciences Institute at Stanford, a former member of the Beckman’s Center Program for Molecular and Genetic Medicine, and a member of RSA since 1998. As the true chemist that he was, Jim was a catalyst for how we thought about complex macromolecules and for interdisciplinary solutions and innovation. He was an influential mentor to many young scientists, to whom he generously devoted his time. Jim will be remembered as man of tremendous knowledge and curiosity, a passionate researcher, a selfless collaborator, a sailing buddy, a kind and trusted friend.

Dr. Stephen T. Chermack, 54, of Ann Arbor, MI passed away peacefully in the early hours of May 2, 2019. Steve was a graduate of SUNY Buffalo and received his master’s and Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology from Kent State University. In 2012, Steve became Chief of the Mental Health Service at the Ann Arbor VA a role he held until taking medical leave. In 2016, he was promoted to Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Michigan Medical School. Steve became a member of RSA in 1996, attending the annual meeting regularly and he took great pride in introducing his trainees to the organization. Steve was also a musician, playing in several local bands over his 25 years in Ann Arbor.

Dr. Scott Coffey, passed away April 9, 2019, due to ALS. Dr. Coffey began at University of Mississippi Medical Center as an associate professor in 2004, taking over as Division Director for Psychology in 2007, and achieving the rank of professor in 2010. He served as the Vice Chair for Research within Psychiatry from 2013-2018, becoming Professor Emeritus in 2018. Dr. Coffey's research interests included the treatment of PTSD, substance use disorders, and the concurrent treatment of those conditions. In addition to his excellence in research, Dr. Coffey was a passionate educator and mentor. Scott was a member since 2003.

Dr. Ting-Kai “T-K” Li passed away on November 18, 2018, just five days following his 84th birthday.  T-K had a distinguished academic and public service career, spanning almost five decades. As a physician and a scientist, T-K turned with a passion to alcohol research, focusing on the possible underpinnings of the disease, including its genetic bases.  In 1989, Dr. Li, and others, led the development of the Collaborative Study on the Genetics of Alcoholism (COGA). A founding member of RSA, he served as president of both RSA and ISBRA, ACER Editor and then as NIAAA Director. He was truly a monumental figure in alcohol research, and his legacy is in the many lives he touched, personally and professionally. T-K and his mischievous smile will be missed by many.

Dr. Richard (“Dick”) Deitrich passed away peacefully on September 5, 2018. Dr. Deitrich was Professor Emeritus at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus, his professional home for over 50 years during which time he was deeply involved in alcohol research and with the alcohol research community. He was the recipient of the RSA Distinguished Researcher Award in 1984 and the founder and director of the Colorado Alcohol Research Center, one of the first such Centers to be funded by the NIAAA. Dr. Deitrich’s research focused on alcohol metabolizing enzymes and their potential contribution to alcohol addiction, and also on the behavioral genetics of alcohol. Perhaps his most important professional contribution was the training and inspiration he provided for dozens of PhD students, post-doctoral Fellows, and visiting scientists. Dr. Deitrich, a "pioneer" member of RSA and the Society's 3rd president,  was a trusted colleague, a gifted scientist, an outstanding fisherman and photographer, a loving husband, father, grandfather and great-grandfather, and a true friend to many.

Dr. Thomas Ray Jerrells passed away May 22, 2018. He retired as Professor of Immunology from the University of Nebraska Medical Center-Omaha in November 2011. He was one of three co-founders of the Alcohol and Immunology Research Interest Group (AIRIG), as well as Editor-in-Chief of Alcohol: An International Biomedical Journal from 1999 through 2004. Tom was widely recognized for his research on the effects of alcohol consumption on host immunity. He accumulated countless peer-reviewed journal publications in his name and mentored many of the next generation’s great scientific minds. Many of his trainees are now leading investigators in their respective fields. Tom was a long-time member of the RSA and ISBRA.

Dr. Richard Morrisett, Professor of Pharmacology in the College of Pharmacy at The University of Texas at Austin, passed away in early April 2018. Dr. Morrisett was a brilliant neuroscientist and a renowned alcohol researcher. A long-term member of RSA, Dr. Morrisett directed a NIAAA funded T32 training grant and a core facility for the Integrative Neuroscience Initiative on Alcoholism (INIA). 

Dr. Lawrence Lumeng passed away June 21, 2017. He was appointed Assistant Professor of Medicine and Biochemistry at IUSM in 1971, advanced to Associate Professor in 1974, and then promoted to Full Professor in 1979.  Concurrently, he served as a Research Associate and later as a Clinical Investigator at the VAMC.  He was appointed the Chief of the Division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology at IUSM from 1984 to 2007 and also at the VAMC from 1984 to 2003. He successfully built one of the foremost academic Gastroenterology divisions in the country that ranked continually in the top 15 since 1993. When he stepped down as Division Chief in 2007, the Division ranked #9 nationally as a top digestive disease unit in the country. A 30+ years member of RSA, he will be missed.

Dr. Matthew Reilly passed away unexpectedly in May, 2017. Matt served as a program officer in the Division of Neuroscience and Behavior at the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, NIH since 2009. He brought great enthusiasm and dedication to his management of a diverse research grant portfolio devoted to gene and protein networks involved in alcohol dependence. Through his active leadership in the NIH Library of Network-Based Cellular Signatures (LINCS) Program he developed a keen interest is applying bioinformatics approaches to the discovery of druggable targets for alcohol use disorders and was very active in this capacity in NIAAA’s medication development efforts. Matt was well known and long appreciated in the alcohol research community. Matt was a long-term member of RSA.

Dr. John K. Belknap passed away in March, 2017. John was Professor of Behavioral Neuroscience at OHSU and a Senior Research Career Scientist at the VA Portland Health Care System. He earned his BA, MA and PhD (1971) in Psychology from the University of Colorado in Boulder. He was one of the first graduates of both the new Biopsychology program and the new Institute for Behavioral Genetics. His mouse behavioral laboratory work focused on studies of genetic contributions to the effects of drugs of abuse. John was a long-term member of RSA.

Dr. Theodore (Ted) Jacob passed away on August 22, 2016. He founded and directed the Family Research Center at the University of Pittsburgh (1969 to 1986), then was Chair and Professor of Family Studies at the University of Arizona (1986 to 1992), and thereafter joined the VA (1992-2016) to become a Research Career Scientist and Director of the VA’s Family Research Center. His contributions to both individuals and institutions were many, and he will be missed. Ted was a long-term member of RSA.

Dr. Loren (Larry) Parsons of the Committee on the Neurobiology of Addictive Disorders (CNAD) at The Scripps Research Institute passed away on June 21, 2016. Professor Parsons was a brilliant neuroscientist, a dynamic leader in CNAD and a wonderful, well loved human being. He was
Director of both the TSRI NIAAA Alcohol Research Center and TSRI NIAAA T32 post-doctoral training grant. Dr. Parsons was recruited to TSRI in 1992 where he developed a spectacular research program and has made seminal contributions that will remain his legacy. Larry was a long-term member of RSA.

Dr. Don W. Walker passed away on May 29, 2015. His last position was as Professor of Neuroscience in the Department of Neuroscience, University of Florida College of Medicine. His research area was the neurobiological consequences of alcohol abuse, and he and Gerhard Freund (who died in early 2014) established the first animal model for alcohol abuse experimentation, with appropriate controls for nutritional variables, etc. This was a major contribution to the field. Don was a long-term member of RSA.

Dr. Mark D. Wood passed away on April 26, 2015. Since 1998, he had been a faculty member in the Department of Psychology at the University of Rhode Island. Dr. Wood's research primarily focused on three interrelated areas: (1) the etiology of alcohol use and misuse; (2) preventive
interventions to reduce alcohol misuse; and (3) alcohol-related aggression and violence. Mark was a long time RSA member and organizer of the RSA 5K Run/Walks.

Dr. Adrienne S. Gordon, a retired member of RSA, died on February 19, 2015. Dr. Gordon had conducted pioneering alcohol research as a faculty member in the Department of Neurology and the Gallo Center at the University of California, San Francisco.

Dr. James D. Beard passed away on October 7, 2014. He began his lengthy career at the Memphis Mental Health Institute in the 1960’s. Jim earned his Ph.D from the University of Tennessee, College of Medicine in Physiology while studying the clinical effects of alcohol. He continued his research and teaching schedule at the University of Tennessee Medical School until his retirement. Dr. Beard was a long term RSA member and received the RSA Seixas Award in 1989.

Dr. Harry June, an active RSA Member, passed away on June 7, 2014. He conducted alcohol research as a faculty member at IUPUI before he moved on to the University of Maryland and Howard University.

Dr. Ronald Alkana, an active RSA Member since 1980, has passed away. Ronald Alkana, 68, associate dean for graduate affairs and interdisciplinary programs at the USC School of Pharmacy, died on February 23, 2014 while jogging near his home in Seal Beach.

Dr. V. Gene Erwin passed away November 30, 2013. He will be missed by the alcohol research community. Dr. Erwin was an Emeritus Professor at the University of Colorado. Gene was a member of RSA since 1980.

Dr. Nancy K. Mello passed away on Monday, November 25, 2013. Dr. Mello had been an RSA member since 1989 and will be missed by the alcohol research community. Dr. Mello was director of McLean’s Alcohol and Drug Abuse Research Center and also taught at Harvard Medical School.

Dr. Xiao-Ming Ou passed away on August 25, 2013. Dr. Ou was an associate professor of Psychiatry at the University of Mississippi Medical Center. She will be missed by the alcohol research community.

Dr. Shannon Matta, passed away on Saturday, February 23, 2013, after an heroic battle with cancer. She joined the Department of Pharmacology at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center (UTHSC) in 1998. She was nationally and internationally known for her work in understanding the neurobiology of nicotine and alcohol abuse. Shannon was a long-time member of RSA.

Dr. Albert Pawlowski, passed away on January 27, 2013. Al was the RSA Seixas Awardee in  2002 and was a long-time RSA Member. He worked for the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, Director of the Small Grants Section of the National Institutes of Mental Health, Vice President of the Alcohol Beverage and Medical Research Foundation in Baltimore (1989-2001), and was instrumental in issuing a first class stamp for Alcoholism from the United States Postal Service in 1981.

Dr. Daniel W. Hommer of Rockville, MD, passed away suddenly on January 2, 2013. Dan received his B.A. from the University of Pennsylvania and his M.D. from Albert Einstein College of Medicine. A dedicated scientist and physician, Dan was Chief of the Section of Brain Electrophysiology and Imaging at the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, NIH. He was a wonderful mentor and world-renowned for his discoveries on structural and functional differences in brains of alcoholic and non-alcoholic individuals. Dan was an RSA member since 1995.

Dr. Timothy A. Cudd passed away on August 26, 2012. Dr. Cudd was a long time member of RSA and the FASD Study Group, and Professor in the Texas A&M University College of Veterinary Medicine Department of Veterinary Physiology & Pharmacology, Charter Fellow of the Michael E. Debakey Institute for Comparative Cardiovascular Sciences and Biomedical Devices. Dr. Cudd was a superb scientist, an excellent teacher, and a great surgeon, as well as a friend and mentor that influenced many researchers in the field of fetal physiology.