UF Pain Management
Mark S. Gold, MD | University of Florida


Dr. Gold is the Donald Dizney Eminent Scholar, Distinguished Professor and Chair of Psychiatry. Recently, he has also been selected as the 17th University of Florida’s Distinguished Alumni Professor. He is currently serving his second two year, University–wide term in this leadership position. Prior to assuming the position as Chair he was a Distinguished Service Professor in the Departments of Psychiatry, Neuroscience, Anesthesiology, and Community Health and Family Medicine at the University of Florida College of Medicine located in Gainesville, Florida. He is also a member of the McKnight Brain Institute and a Founder of the U.F. Center for Alcohol and Drug Research and Education (CARE). Dr. Gold is a teacher of the year, researcher and inventor who has worked for nearly 40 years to develop models for understanding the effects of tobacco, cocaine , and other drugs and also food on the brain and behavior. Dr. Gold has developed translational research models which have led to new treatments for addicts and also conceptualized hypotheses which were more than novel but also yielded new approaches to treat patients. He has been recognized many times for his innovations and also as an inventor.

Working closely with Bill Luttge, Ph.D. and Albert Rhoton, M.D., Dr. Gold was actively involved in the Brain Institute’s evolution from an idea to reality. the first Faculty in the Division of Addiction Medicine and the first Chief of the Addiction Medicine at the University of Florida College of Medicine . Under his leadership, the Division of Addiction Medicine at the University of Florida has grown from Dr. Gold in 1990 to one of the largest and best known translational research – to- new treatment programs in the world with over 30 academic Faculty and National Institute of Health (NIH), National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcohol (NIAAA), National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), and other funded researchers in second hand exposure models, self-administration, functional brain imaging, public health, impaired professionals, genomics, proteomics, and nanotechnology. The entire Department of Psychiatry , with its 80 full-time academic Faculty is one of the largest and most diverse academic Departments in the USA.

Clinical Interests

Food and Addiction, Mark Gold, MDDr. Gold’s pioneering work on the brain systems underlying the effects of opiate drugsled to a dramatic change in the way opiate action was understood. He proposed a novel model for opiate action, dependence, and withdrawal. This locus coeruleus theory of opiate and drug withdrawal is a mainstay of 2013 theory and practice, even though he proposed it in 1978. Gold was then the senior author on the discovery paper and was awarded a patent for the discovery of new uses for clonidine (Catapres) which remains widely used for opiate withdrawal and pain management. Dr. Gold and Herbert Kleber were the first to suggest sequential use of clonidine and Naltrexone as well as, rapid detoxification and also post-detox maintenance with Naltrexone. During the mid-1980s Gold and colleagues developed a new theory for cocaine action, cocaine dependence, and cocaine withdrawal in the dopamine-rich areas of the brain. While most at the time did not consider cocaine addictive because of the lack of a classic withdrawal syndrome, Gold proposed a dopamine theory of pathological attachment, loss of control and addiction. Gold’s original work on cocaine led to a complete change in thinking about cocaine’s addiction liability, acute and chronic actions. This work re-defined addiction and moved the field toward fatal attraction, brain hijacking and loss of control rather than abstinence symptom or signs basis. He helped focus and mentor many researchers and clinicians on dopamine and deficiency states, including current NIDA Director Nora Volkow, M.D. The dopamine hypothesis and the role of dopamine in drug reinforcement are the mainstay of current drug addiction theory. Gold also had the first report of crack, cocaine smoking in the literature. This dopamine work, published first in 1984 and again in 1985 by Gold and Dackis remains seminal and are considered by many classic examples of translational science. In addition to theory, Dr. Gold’s research has laid the foundation for the subsequent studies cementing the neuroanatomy of withdrawal and also dependence or addiction. His work reduced stigma and changed treatment. Dr. Gold has been listed as one of the Best Doctors® in America, U.S. News Best Doctors (2013),  and Addiction Editor for more than a decade, of Addiction Medicine for the nation's number one textbook of medicine, UpToDate. But, Dr Gold is also proud of starting the Division of Addiction Medicine, its ASAM and ABAM training and its treatment program, the Florida Recovery Center. Dr. Scott Teitelbaum was one of Dr. Gold’s first Fellows. Teitelbaum is currently Professor, University of Florida College of Medicine, Medical Director of the UFHealth Florida Recovery Center (FRC) and Chief of The Division of Addiction Medicine. FRC, with outpatient offices in Orlando, Tampa, Jacksonville, Vero Beach, and Gainesville also has a hospital – based dual disorders unit on 39th avenue and also the FRC recovery campus on 441 near the University.  FRC is now a leader in addiction treatment and treatment research, especially in work related to impaired health professionals. This work, which started in Florida, has become a national focus with Tom McLellan, Ph.D. and Bob Dupont, M.D. reporting the national outcomes of impaired health professionals and suggesting that this model be applied more broadly to addiction treatment. The Addiction Medicine Division & the Florida Recovery Center were the cover story in the UF Research Magazine.Volkow Gold

Dr. Gold, a Distinguished Fellow of the American College of Pharmacology and the American Psychiatric Association, has made many recent contributions to the understanding of smoking, the second hand effects of all drugs that are smoked and the consequences of expired medications. Dr. Gold and colleagues have recently reported on children of Kabul opium smokers and also outcomes of Impaired Health Professionals, especially anesthesiologists and other physicians. Second-hand drug exposure, like second hand tobacco smoke, is being actively investigated in self-administration, fMRI, and proteomic studies in UF's addiction research group. Gold has a career-long interest in clinical hypothesis- driven research as well as research that starts in the lab and progresses to the bedside. He has worked to explain why people drink so much decaffeinated coffee -- it's not caffeine free -- and why some patients who have abused drugs do not recover or return to pre morbid neurological function once they stop using. Dr. Gold has helped to focus on drug consequences and deaths among users to identify trends and also problems and then try to target prevention.

Mark S Gold MDOver the past two decades, Dr. Gold has pioneered the hypothesis of hedonic overeating or pathological attachment to food as an addiction. This work is much less controversial now that many recognize the similarities between great food and compulsive overeating and other process addictions such as gambling and sex. He is frequently interviewed on addictions, overeating, and intervention risk-benefits has been called a prominent addiction researcher by the Wall Street Journal and also interviewed on this subject by USA Today, Newsweek , Forbes Magazine, Bloomberg, Businessweek Men’s Health, and many others. Dr. Gold Co-Chaired a historic Experts Conference at Yale with Kelly Brownell and another at American Society of Addiction Medicine Symposium to focus attention on the great progress that has been made in evaluating and extending this food addiction hypothesis over the past decade. This work has also to new approaches to treat the obese as well as to prevent overeating in recent post-addicts. In addition to laboratory studies of food, fat, and sugar and proposing the hypothesis relating food with other process addictions, Drs. Nicole Avena & Gold have worked at the University of Florida to develop new treatments. Gold has worked decades on this research question and appears to be making some progress of late (Physiology & Behavior link). With major collaborations within the McKnight Brain Institute , Drs. Febo, Wang, Baxter, and Gold have been working on drug-related brain cell injury and death and stem cell repair. Dr. Gold and his research group are currently working Nicole Avena, Ph.D. at Columbia University on “sugar addiction” and drug abuse-like effects, Kelly Brownell, PhD at Duke University and the Rudd Center on Food Policy, Linda Cotler, PhD and Lisa Merlo Greene, Ph.D. on physician addictions and recovery, Jean Lud Cadet, MD on neurotoxicity of drug exposure, also Y. Liu, Ph.D. on global health and neuroimaging, and with Drs. Bruijnzeel and Barry Setlow Ph.D. with McKnight Brain Institute Director on stem cell augmenting methods and inventions to reverse the neurotoxic and smoking and smoke effects. Drs. Brownell and Gold are the Editors of “Food Addiction”, the highly acclaimed textbook published by Oxford University Press. Gold has mentored many of the nation’s current leaders in overeating, eating disorders and addiction in prevention, education and research.


UF College of Medicine was the first medical school to expect clinical competency in addiction medicine just like obstetrics or neurology or surgery. Addiction Medicine is taught in the classroom during the basic science years, but UF insisted on a two week Clerkship with a full rotation on an addiction treatment unit. UF is also a national teaching site for the Annenberg medical student summer training program in addiction medicine. Since physicians learn how to evaluate and treat patients by watching and learning at the bedside, this new program is very important to the patients in the State of Florida and elsewhere who might go to a physician for a tobacco, alcohol, drug or overeating problem. UF has become one of the nation's leading training sites for physicians trying to learn about drugs and become Board Certified. The University of Florida College of Medicine's addiction group has trained over 60 physicians who have now become Board Certified addiction experts.

Academic Interests

First and foremost, Dr. Gold is a researcher and mentor. He has over 40 years of successfully mentoring young addiction researchers, teachers, and clinicians. Dr. Gold has been able to mentor MD, PhD, and MD/PhD students at the University of Florida as part of a degree program and also as part of the University of Florida College of Medicine’s research track and two of these medical students have been awarded Howard Hughes Research Fellowships in the past few years. His current work is on the reinforcing, drug-like effects of sugar and development of new treatments based on food-brain interactions. He continues to look at drug effects vs traumatic brain injuries and neuroprotection. He has also extended his work on cigarette smoking vs nicotine to cannabis smoking vs THC to better understand the toxicity and therapeutic potential of plants vs pro-drugs vs new medicines.  

Dr. Gold is a mentor of researchers and physicians in full time academic positions in the NIH and Universities from Chairs to Professors. Dr. Gold’s leadership has been recognized by the Annenberg Foundation which has decided to support other medical students Clerkships and summer internships at the University of Florida. Dr Gold is a committed teacher has given Grand Rounds at major academic medical centers and spoken at Scientific Meetings in the United States, Europe and Asia. He is a regular Keynote Speaker at Internal Medicine Annual Meetings, PriMed, Addiction and also Psychiatric meetings and Conventions. He is the author of a number of classic texts, citation classic research articles, and also chapters in the most widely read text books and reviews by physicians and medical students. Over the past 35+ years, Gold has written book chapters, practice guidelines, edited textbooks, and developed self-learning modules to increase access to state-of-the-art addiction research and practices. Recently, Gold has been the author of Performance Enhancing Medications and Drugs of Abuse, also Dual Disorders and a new text on alcohol.
Leadership and Service
Dr. Gold has been a leader at the University, State, National and International level in drug abuse prevention, treatment advocacy and research. He has been a member of various Chair Search Committees, the Admissions Committee, the Curriculum Committee, and the Director of the Alcohol Education Center and Impaired Physicians Task Force. Nationally, Dr. Gold has worked with a variety of governmental agencies concerned with drug use and youth. In addition to work with the White House's ONDCP, NIDA, NIAAA, and NIH. Dr. Gold has worked for 30 years with the DEA. Dr Gold has worked for DEA Administrators from Mullen, Bensinger, Lawn to the present day Administrator Michele M. Leonhart to reduce stigma and increase access to treatment.

UF Addiction ExpertsDr. Gold has been an expert who has consulted on drug problems, addiction and treatment to many governmental agencies, Administrators and Directors.  Dr. Gold has been very active in the DEA Museum. Dr. Gold has been a Founding Director of the DEA Museum and Educational Foundation and serves on its Board of Directors. Gold has spoken at DEA Museum and DEA events in DEA HQ, Tampa, New York City, and elsewhere.


Dr Gold has regularly been a major contributor to the US’s national drug strategy, advisor, participant in consensus panels, and with the National Institutes. Dr. Gold has worked with the Hillary Clinton’s State Department on the Children of Kabul project and presented these and other findings at national, international, and UN meetings. This work, which has been highlighted by Secretary Clinton on the State Department web site is continuing.
Dr. Gold is an Editor of the Journal of Addictive Disease, Editorial Board member of a number of Journals and reviewer for many, many more. He reviews more than 20 journal articles yearly. Dr. Gold is a member of the University of Florida College of Medicine's Alumni Board of Directors, former Director of Betty Ford Institute Board in Palm Springs, California and Washington University's Institute for Public and Global Health  Directors, and also serves on the Board of the Institute for Behavioral and Health in Bethesda, Maryland.

Dr. Gold is a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Washington University in St Louis where he also was awarded the 1989 Distinguished Alumni Award . He has served CASA as an expert panelist on four occasions, most recently on treatment efficacy and parity. He was an Honors Graduate of the University of Florida College of Medicine where he was also AOA and a Wall of Fame award recipient. Dr Gold was awarded the 2004 Conway Hunter Society Award, The American Academy of Addiction Psychiatry's Founders Award in 2005, the prestigious annual Nelson J. Bradley, M.D. life time achievement award by the NAATP their at their 2006 Annual Conference. Gold has also received awards from DARE and also DEA for decades of volunteer service. Dr. Gold has been elected a member of the American College of Psychiatrists 2010. Dr. Gold has been awarded Exemplary Teaching and Minority Mentoring Awards from the University of Florida College of Medicine and an Inventor Award many times from the University of Florida's Office of Technology Transfer for the licensing of his patents. He is the 37th Univesity of Florida UFAA Alumni Professor and one of the only such Professors to ever be asked to serve a second two year term.


Since beginning his career in research at the University of Florida in 1970, he has been the author of over 900 medical articles, chapters, and abstracts in journals for health professionals on a wide variety of psychiatric research subjects and authoring twelve professional books including practice guidelines, ASAM core competencies, and medical text books for primary care professionals. He is the author of 15 general audience books. According to a review in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA 272:18, 1996), "Mark S. Gold, M.D. the most prolific and brilliant of the addiction experts writing today. Dr. Gold has spent his career trying to bridge the gap in medical education and practice with the belief that addictions are diseases and that all physicians have a critical role in prevention and, if that fails, in early identification and prompt treatment."

Dr. Mark Gold UF Distinguished Professor Award

Distinguished Alumnus Awards:

University of Florida, 1984

Washington University, 1989

Yale University, 2008

University of Florida Alumni Distinguished Professor (2011-2013)