((Courtesy of the National Institute on Drug Abuse) - Nora Volkow Nora Volkow (National Institute on Drug Abuse)

Nora Volkow has headed the National Institute on Drug Abuse for more than a decade, overseeing research into the genetic factors affecting drug use, as well as work on vaccines that could one day prevent drugs from entering the brain.

Researchers credit Volkow with helping to establish addiction as a topic worthy of scientific study, which is part of the reason she was nominated this summer for a Samuel J. Heyman medal for excellence in civil service.

The Post’s Max Ehrenfreund has a profile of the NIDA director as part of a series on the award nominees. The winners of the Heyman medals, known as “Sammies” within the federal workforce, will be announced in October.

CBS’s “60 Minutes” profiled Volkow last year, noting that she “revolutionized how science and medicine view addiction: as a disease, not a character defect.”

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