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Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center - Houston, Texas

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Kosten Named New Head of Research at Houston VA

July 26, 2011

Thomas R. Kosten, M.D.  


Thomas R. Kosten, M.D. was recently selected as the Associate Chief of Staff for Research at the Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center (MEDVAMC). In his new post, Kosten is charged with management of one of the largest research programs in the VA health care system.

“Tom’s expertise in the areas of cutting-edge research, clinical perspective, and medication development is recognized world-wide,” said Adam C. Walmus, M.H.A., M.A., F.A.C.H.E., MEDVAMC director. “His unique knowledge and insight will significantly enhance our research program; thereby, ensuring our Veterans access to the latest medical and health care technology.”

Following a successful, 25-year tenure as professor and chief of Psychiatry at Yale University and VA Connecticut, Kosten joined the MEDVAMC in July 2006, bringing more than 30 years of exemplary federal service. With a joint appointment at Baylor College of Medicine (BCM), Kosten is the JH Waggoner Chair & Professor of Psychiatry, Pharmacology and Neuroscience; as well as, the associate vice president and dean for Clinical Research at BCM.

Since 2006, Kosten has also served as the research director of the VA National Substance Use Disorders Quality Enhancement Research Initiative based at the MEDVAMC. He established the Division of Addictions Psychiatry at BCM and Yale, and directs their National Institutes (NIH) of Health Medications Development Center for Substance Abuse.

A recognized leader in clinical and translational sciences, Kosten is a recipient of a Research Scientist Award from the NIH since 1987, has served on national and international review groups for medications and vaccines development in substance abuse, and is credited with the development of several cutting-edge discoveries in medications for addictions. 

A former congressional fellow in the U.S. House of Representatives, Kosten has held visiting professorships in Germany, Spain, Greece, China, and Canada. He is the founding vice-chair for Added Qualifications in Addiction Psychiatry of the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology. He is a distinguished fellow in the American Psychiatric Association, a fellow of the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology, past president of the American Academy of Addiction Psychiatry, and president of the College on Problems of Drug Dependence.

Kosten has received several prestigious awards for clinical research, is the editor of two major journals in substance abuse, and been on the American Journal of Psychiatry board. Additionally, he was again recognized in the 2010-2011 Best Doctors in America®, an honor reserved by only 5 percent of the nation’s doctors. He is a much sought-after subject matter expert in the field of addictions, both nationally and internationally, with appearances on the Public Broadcasting Service, National Geographic, and National Public Radio among others.

Kosten’s recent work includes serving on the National Academy of Sciences, Institute of Medicine (IOM) Committee on Vaccines for Substance Abuse. He also serves on the IOM’s Committee on Prevention, Diagnosis, Treatment, and Management of Substance Use Disorders in the U.S. Armed Forces, a U.S. Congressional mandate via the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2010 (Public Law 111-84), to conduct an independent study on substance use disorders in the military.

From his studies in substance dependence, post traumatic stress disorder, and neuroimaging, Kosten has published more than 550 papers, books, and reviews. His neuroimaging research includes detecting and treating cocaine induced cerebral perfusion defects, and using functional MRI to predict pharmacotherapy outcome.

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Awarded re-designation for Magnet Recognition for Excellence in Nursing Services in 2008, the Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center serves as the primary health care provider for more than 120,000 veterans in southeast Texas. Veterans from around the country are referred to the MEDVAMC for specialized diagnostic care, radiation therapy, surgery, and medical treatment including cardiovascular surgery, gastrointestinal endoscopy, nuclear medicine, ophthalmology, and treatment of spinal cord injury and diseases. The MEDVAMC is home to a Post Traumatic Stress Disorder Clinic; Network Polytrauma Center; an award-winning Cardiac and General Surgery Program; Liver Transplant Center; VA Epilepsy and Cancer Centers of Excellence; VA Substance Abuse Disorder Quality Enhancement Research Initiative; Health Services Research & Development Center of Excellence; VA Rehabilitation Research of Excellence focusing on mild to moderate traumatic brain injury; Mental Illness Research, Education and Clinical Center; and one of the VA’s six Parkinson’s Disease Research, Education, and Clinical Centers. Including the outpatient clinics in Beaumont, Conroe, Galveston, Houston, Lufkin, and Richmond, MEDVAMC outpatient clinics logged more than one million outpatient visits in fiscal year 2010. For the latest news releases and information about the MEDVAMC, visit