Keynote Speakers

Markus Heilig, MD, PhD
Discussing Current Research or Related Topics in Pharmacology and Alcohol Use
Friday, June 20, 2014  |  8:00am - 9:30am

Markus Heilig, MD, PhD is the Clinical Director for both the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) and the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA). Additionally, as the Chief of the Laboratory of Clinical Studies (LCS) in the NIAAA's Division of Intramural Clinical and Biological Research, Dr. Heilig oversees the only clinical laboratory in the NIAAA intramural research program. The LCS conducts investigations into the effects of acute and chronic alcohol consumption and studies the effects of drug treatments on patients with carefully defined neuropsychiatric and medical diagnoses as well as patients with a diagnosis of alcohol abuse and dependence.

Dr. Heilig's research has focused on the neural mechanisms underlying motivation and emotion, with special emphasis on the stress response and anxiety, and on the neurobiological basis of drug and alcohol dependence. He is internationally recognized for his groundbreaking research on neuropeptide Y, a peptide with a major role inemotionality and alcohol-seeking behavior. Author of the standard addiction medicine textbook used in Sweden, Dr. Heilig has been an advocate for public education to remove the stigma of addiction and counter the popular perception that addiction is the product of a character defect.

In addition to his scientific and clinical accomplishments, Dr. Heilig has been a leader in addiction research in the European Community, having organized a trans-European initiative in drug dependence as well as a number of conferences and other meetings to promote this effort. He also has initiated collaborations among scientists at the Karolinska Institute, the Scripps Research Institute in California, and the Rockefeller University in New York.


Xavier Amador, PhD

Relationships – Where Treatment and Recovery Begin
Friday, June 20, 2014  |  1:45pm - 3:15pm

Dr. Amador is the founder and head of the Internationally acclaimed LEAP Institute, which helps people improve communication skills across a wide range of disciplines, from health care, to family and interpersonal interaction, to the business world. Dr. Amador is an internationally sought- after speaker, clinical psychologist, and author of eight books, including “I’m Right, You’re Wrong, Now What,” “When Someone You Love is Depressed,” the international best-seller, “I’m Not Sick, I Don’t Need Help (available in 15 languages),  “Break the Bipolar Cycle,” and “Being Single in a Couple’s World.”
Dr. Amador and his faculty at The LEAP Institute have trained tens of thousands of people around the world in the LEAP communication method (Listen-Empathize-Agree-Partner). LEAP teaches how to lower tension, increase trust, and develop respect in all types of relationships, with the goal of creating healthy and productive partnerships. You can learn more by visiting

Dr. Amador’s expertise has made him a regular contributor to the Today Show and a featured guest on Good Morning America, CBS This Morning, NBC Nightly News, 60 Minutes, CNN, ABC’s World News Tonight and many others. He was a featured psychologist on the PBS series, “This Emotional Life,” where he helped several couples improve their relationships.

Currently a Visiting Professor of Psychology at the State University of New York, for more than two decades he served as a Professor of Psychiatry and Clinical Psychology at Columbia University and Professor of Psychology at New York University. He was Director of Psychology at the New York State Psychiatric Institute and Director of Research and Education at the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) and on NAMI’s Board of Directors. He is well-known for his research work in schizophrenia, anosognosia and other forms of mental illness. In addition to his books, Dr. Amador has published over 100 peer-reviewed scientific papers and many other publications that have been translated into more than 20 languages. He was also co chair of the the Schizophrenia and Related Disorders section of the DSM IV-TR.

Dr. Amador is also a well-known forensic psychologist who has worked on numerous high-profile cases, including the Unabomber, PFC Lynndie England, the Elizabeth Smart Kidnapping, 9/11 conspirator cases and most recently the Jared Loughner case.

Three years ago, Dr. Amador broke new ground by appearing on the reality TV show “Bethenny Ever After,” the first psychologist to allow the camera access to real-life therapy sessions. The sessions between Dr. Amador and the show’s star, Bethenny Frankel, showed the general public how real-life psychologists interact with patients, and how even successful people benefit from counseling.

Born in Cuba and forced to flee as a child when Castro murdered his father, Dr. Amador is an active advocate for the mentally ill, their families and the professionals that serve them.