Michael E. Charness, MD, professor of neurology and associate dean of veteran’s affairs, was recently awarded the 2016 Mark Keller Honorary Award from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA).
Charness, who is also Chief of Staff at the VA Boston Healthcare System and professor of neurology and Faculty Associate Dean at Harvard Medical School, was honored as an outstanding alcohol researcher who has made significant and long-term contributions to understanding alcohol’s effects on the body and mind.
Charness earned his undergraduate degree in psychology from McGill University and his medical degree from the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. He completed a residency in internal medicine at the Johns Hopkins Hospital. He was resident and chief resident in neurology and postdoctoral fellow in neuroscience at the University of California, San Francisco and is board certified in internal medicine and neurology.
Charness joined the VA as a staff neurologist in 1989 and served as Chief of Neurology at the Brockton-West-Roxbury VA and the VA Boston Healthcare System from 1996 until 2003, when he became Chief of Staff. He serves on the Chief of Staff Advisory Committee to the VA Principal Deputy Undersecretary for Health and is VA’s representative on the Chief Medical Officer Group Steering Committee of the Association of American Medical Colleges.
Charness served as a member of the National Advisory Council of the NIAAA at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and served as president of the Research Society on Alcoholism (RSA) and chaired the Alcohol-Toxicology 3 Study Section. He was awarded the Frank Seixas Award of RSA, a MERIT Award from NIAAA, the Excellence Award from the National Organization on Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, and the Henry Rosett Award from the Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders Study Group of RSA. His laboratory, with support from NIH and the VA, studies the mechanisms of alcohol toxicity in the nervous system and the development of drugs that block alcohol toxicity. He is scientific director of the NIAAA-funded Collaborative Initiative on Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders and chairs the external advisory board for the NIH-funded Adolescent Brain and Cognitive Development study. He has cared for patients with neurological disorders throughout his career.
The NIAAA established the Mark Keller Honorary Lecture Series to pay tribute to Mark Keller, a pioneer in the field of alcohol research who began teaching and researching alcohol-related issues in the mid-1930s. His more than 200 publications on alcoholism include his book, the Dictionary of Words About Alcohol. He also served as the editor of the Journal of Studies on Alcohol for almost 50 years.