Professor & Associate Director, Substance Abuse Research Division,
Wayne State University
It is fitting that the first Marian W. Fischman Memorial Award at CPDD be given to Dr. Chris-Ellyn Johanson, a distinguished scientist and close colleague and friend of Marian. Dr. Chris-Ellyn Johanson earned her Ph.D. in biopsychology in 1972 from the University of Chicago where she first met Marian Fischman, a fellow graduate student. Both stayed on as faculty members with Dr. Fischman leaving in 1984 and Dr. Johanson in 1987. From then until 1992, Dr. Johanson was an Associate Professor at Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences (USUHS), rising to rank of Professor in 1991. In 1992 she became Branch Chief of Etiology at the Addiction Research Center (ARC) in Baltimore. Finally, in 1995, Dr. Johanson joined the faculty of Psychiatry and Behavioral Neurosciences at Wayne State University, where she is currently professor and Associate Director of the Substance Abuse Research Division.
Dr. Johanson’s primary interest during her early career was in determining the influence of a broad spectrum of behavioral and pharmacological variables on the relative reinforcing efficacy of drugs of abuse and the development of sensitive approaches for assessing abuse liability of psychoactive drugs in rhesus monkeys. While still continuing her animal research at the University of Chicago, she also developed a human psychopharmacology program investigating the reinforcing effects of psychomotor stimulants and benzodiazepines in normal humans. When Dr. Johanson moved to USUHS, human behavioral pharmacology became her primary interest. At the ARC, her research interests broadened to include the epidemiology of drug abuse and the development of paradigms that would foster a biobehavioral understanding of vulnerability to substance abuse.
Dr. Johanson has published more than 150 scientific articles, including several important reviews of the behavioral pharmacology of cocaine co-authored by Dr. Fischman. She was also the editor of Drug and Alcohol Dependence from 1986 to 1998 and helped make this the official journal of CPDD. She has attended the annual scientific meetings of the College (or Committee) on Problems of Drug Dependence regularly since 1971. That 1971 meeting was particularly memorable because Dr. Johanson was asked to leave the official CPDD hotel dining room at lunchtime because she was a female. Despite this rocky beginning, she has served on several committees of CPDD including the credentials, program nominating, publication, international and human research, and was appointed chair of the two latter committees. She served both on the Board of the Committee in the mid-80’s and recently on the Board of Directors of the College.
Throughout her professional career, Chris-Ellyn and Marian had a strong bond both because of their shared research interests and also personally.