Board of Directors Nominee
Biography - Anthony Albanese, MD, DFASAM
Candidate for President-Elect
Anthony P. Albanese, MD, DFASAM is the Chief of Medicine for the VA Northern California Healthcare System. He is also a Health Sciences Clinical Professor of Medicine and Psychiatry at the UC Davis School of Medicine, and a Vice Chair in the Department of Medicine. He attended college and medical school at Oral Roberts University in Tulsa Oklahoma, graduating in 1986. He did his residency in internal medicine and fellowship in gastroenterology at The St. Luke’s- Roosevelt Hospital Center in New York (now Mount Sinai West).
During those years, he became interested in addiction medicine, working in the hospital’s methadone clinic and detoxification programs. Under the mentorship of physicians supervising these programs, he became a member of ASAM while still in training and became a certified addiction medicine specialist in 1991. He completed his hepatology fellowship at the University of Miami in 1992, and after 3 years of private practice, became the co-director of the addiction treatment program at Mount Sinai Hospital in Miami Beach, FL. As an Associate Professor of Medicine and Psychiatry at the University of Miami, he worked with the GI/Liver transplant programs, and taught in the Addiction Psychiatry fellowship program.
In 2001, he moved to Sacramento California and continued his work at the VA in gastroenterology, hepatology, and addiction medicine. Since then he has had roles as the VA Site Program Director for the UC Davis Internal Medicine and Family Medicine programs, then the Associate Chief of Staff for Education, then the Deputy Chief of Staff in the VA Northern California Healthcare System. In 2016, he accepted a national position as an Affiliations Officer with the VA Office of Academic Affiliations.
After completing a major national GME expansion project in 2021, he returned to VA Northern California as Chief of Medicine. His research interests and publications have been in the medical aspects associated with opioids and alcohol use, intestinal changes associated with HIV infection, and graduate medical education. He is actively involved with the new UC Davis Addiction Medicine Fellowship and the VA Northern California Addiction Medicine Division.
Candidate Questionnaire Response
1. What have been your greatest contributions to ASAM or to the field of addiction medicine over the last 10 years?
Over my 30 years as an ASAM member, I’ve been a member of 3 state chapters (NYSAM, FSAM and CSAM) and have engaged in many ways during various times. I have been an ASAM board member for 8 of the past 10 years, and this was the springboard for 4 of my 5 greatest contributions:
- Service to State Chapter: I have been a frequent teacher at CSAM conferences since 2006. From 2011-2018 I served on the Conference Planning Committee and Education Committee. In 2012 I was chairman of the CSAM Review course and in 2018, vice chairman for the “State of the Art” course. In 2013, I was elected to a director-at-large position on the CSAM Executive Council, and have been on the board since then, serving as President (2019-2021) and now Immediate Past President. During my time as CSAM president, we had to navigate the COVID-19 pandemic and the selection of a new CEO and management firm. CSAM was successful in both endeavors and is in a stronger position now financially and administratively than it was before.
- Service on the ASAM EVP/CEO nominating committee: The retirement of Penny Mills was a huge loss to ASAM. Filling the loss of her wisdom and experience after a 10-year tenure required swift, decisive action by the ASAM board and executive leadership. The work was intense and time-consuming. It was a pleasure to assist in selecting a search firm, then reviewing all the candidates they presented. The single greatest contribution I’ve made to ASAM over the past 10 years was my role in help us to select Julia Chang as our new Executive Vice President/ Chief Operating Officer. The decisions she has made, and makes every day confirm that we made a great choice in her selection.
- Service on the Strategic Plan Development taskforce: During the past year, it was important for ASAM to develop a new strategic plan to guide society efforts and spending from 2022-2025. This effort was led by Julia Chang, President Bill Haning and President-Elect Brian Hurley, and required a small highly engaged taskforce to meet regularly with our consultant. It was a privilege to serve on this taskforce, review internal and external data, and develop the plan that will guide ASAM priorities through 2025.
- Role in expansion of ADM fellowships: My personal interest in addiction medicine began as a trainee, and during my 30 years as an ASAM member, my primary contribution to the field of addiction medicine has been in education. From 2016-2021, I had the opportunity to work for the VA Office of Academic Affiliations (OAA) and participate in enacting legislation to increase graduate medical education in the VA by 1500 full-time equivalent positions. It was during this time that Addiction Medicine Fellowship programs could become accredited by the ACGME. With the help of ACAAM leadership, I was able to connect accredited fellowship program directors with VA funding. We were able to add more than 23 FTE positions nationwide by connecting these programs.
- Service as Chair of the Chapters Council: It is an absolute joy to serve in this group. The Chapters Council is made up of ASAM chapter leaders from around the country. We have worked together over the past 3 years to share ideas, wisdom, and innovation. The Chapters Council insures that state and regional leaders have the information and tools needed to build a successful state chapter. We share national and local legislative updates, education opportunities, and often problems that need to be addressed. The Chapters Council is an important connector between ASAM as a national organization and the local practice of addiction medicine and psychiatry provided by our members.
2. How would your election to the ASAM Board of Directors benefit ASAM and the field of addiction medicine?
ASAM is, and should always be the purveyor of solid, evidence-based information in the field of addiction medicine and addiction psychiatry. Entering this challenging era of changes in healthcare and policy, ASAM must remain the clear, understandable voice advocating for addiction prevention, treatment, remission, and recovery.
Our Vision aims at a future where these services are available to all people. Our Values reflect inclusive leadership, openness, innovation, integrity, and compassion. As a board member, and member of the strategic plan development taskforce, I participated in formulating and reviewing ASAM’s missional statements and strategic plan and will work as a member of the executive team to implement them.
I want to serve as President-Elect on the Board of Directors because I believe in these principles, and see the importance of educating students, patients, colleagues, community members, criminal justice officers, and legislators for our continued success. I will continue to work with Addiction Medicine Fellowship Directors to support our mutual goals of obtaining funding and spreading availability of high-quality medical addiction education through ASAM conferences, workshops, enduring materials, and in ACGME accredited fellowship programs.
There remain ASAM members who are ineligible or not yet eligible for ABPM certification and we successfully advocated for a pathway that allows them to gain certification through the 2025 exam cycle. It is important that we establish, publish, and advocate for evidence-based standards in addiction treatment. It is equally as important that we advocate for improving access to treatment, and fair pay for the services provided by addiction specialists.
The job of the Executive Council is to engage our innovative, energetic members and associate members in this work. These aspirations can best be accomplished by ASAM if we function as a unified society, and it’s my goal to work towards these goals on both state and national levels. It is important to recognize the power that comes from an experienced, diverse leadership team.
Addiction treatment is a team activity, and the teams need to be diverse on multiple levels. Experience is not a substitute for energy, commitment, or ethnic, racial, age, training, and gender diversity. Nor is diversity a substitute a substitute for experience, energy, or commitment.
As an ASAM President-Elect and future ASAM President, it will be my goal to build and develop these teams, passing along my experience as an ASAM member, teacher, and leader. I envision ASAM’s Councils and Committees being comprised of teams that encompass all these attributes. Our strategic plan says that we want to grow and strengthen the field of addiction medicine, expand access to addiction medicine treatment, set high quality, evidence-based standards in addiction care, and educate the addiction medicine workforce and patients in the most effective, efficient way possible.
The underlying thread to our goals is our desire to be inclusive, innovative, transparent, and compassionate in our leadership and our decision making. As a member of the team that helped develop these goals, I want to lead in their fulfillment. Please consider me as you choose your next President-Elect.