Mary Jeanne Kreek '58 is well known for her pioneering research in the field of neuropsychopharmacology and addictive diseases. Her work led to the development and introduction of methadone maintenance therapy for heroin addiction in the 1960s, a therapy that has become common practice in many parts of the U.S. and other countries. Kreek has changed our understanding of addiction from a moral shortcoming to a medical disease. This work has transformed how doctors treat people with addictive diseases and how we understand the human brain. She is currently the Patrick E. and Beatrice M. Haggerty Professor, Senior Physician and Head of The Laboratory of the Biology of Addictive Diseases at The Rockefeller University. Kreek was the first woman appointed as head of a laboratory at Rockefeller. Her lab also researches the medical complications of drug abuse, such as hepatitis C and AIDS. Kreek is the author or co-author of over 400 scientific research papers.
Kreek has received many awards, including the Betty Ford Award for Research in the Neurobiology of Addiction and the Nathan B. Eddy Memorial Award for Lifetime Excellence in Drug Abuse Research presented by the College on Problems of Drug Dependence, one of the highest recognitions in the field of drug abuse research. In addition, she has served two terms as president of the College on Problems of Drug Dependence (CPDD), the oldest and most prestigious scientific organization in the field of drug abuse research and has participated in nearly every organization related to addiction in the past 50 years. She is a highly sought-after consultant having advised numerous federal agencies, including the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy.
Kreek was a Chemistry major at Wellesley and earned an M.D. from Columbia University.