About Us

Itai Danovitch, MD, MBA, FAPA, DFASAM

Candidate for Region II Director

Biography and Statement

Itai Danovitch, MD, MBA, FAPA, DFASAM

1. What are your greatest contributions to ASAM and the field of addiction medicine?

I have had the privilege of serving ASAM and Region II in a variety of capacities over the years. At the national level, I have served on the ASAM Board, the ASAM Criteria Strategy Committee, and the Annual Conference Planning Committee. At the state level, I served as President of the California Society of Addiction Medicine (CSAM), the Board of Directors, Public Policy, Communications, Education, and Integration and Access to Systems of Care Committees. I have also advocated for our shared goals in addiction medicine through my involvement with other professional associations, particularly the Academy of Consultation Liaison Psychiatry (ACLP) and the American Psychiatric Association (APA).

Through each of these involvements, my activity has been guided by a commitment to improve affordability, accessibility, and quality of treatment for substance use disorders. As Chairman of Psychiatry at Cedars-Sinai, I have pursued these goals by working to integrate addiction treatment services into hospital settings, and by leading system wide efforts to improve screening, assessment, and interventions for patients with substance use disorders. Currently, I am conducting a randomized controlled trial to evaluate the effectiveness of a hospital-based addiction service on clinical outcomes for patients with opioid and alcohol use disorders.

With respect to policy, in 2016, with support from CSAM and prior commissioner David Pating, I was appointed by Governor Jerry Brown to serve as a physician expert on substance use disorders for the California Mental Health Oversight and Accountability Commission (MHSOAC), which has oversight responsibility for approximately one-third of public mental health expenditures in California. In this role, I have worked elevate resource allocation for patients with substance use disorder, integrate medical care and behavioral health care, to support recovery and resiliency, to eliminate disparities, and to identify useful outcome measures that can demonstrate and drive improvements for individuals living with addiction and behavioral health problems.

2. How would your election benefit ASAM and the field of addiction medicine?

If elected, I would bring to ASAM my unequivocal commitment to our organization’s mission and values, as well as my experience navigating the practical challenges we face—improving reimbursement for addiction services, enhancing addiction education across medical training, supporting integration of research findings and best practices, and managing the financial and regulatory barriers that make it difficult for our patients to get the care they deserve.

Having served as president of one of our largest state chapters, I recognize that we need to cultivate vibrant state chapters that attract and develop physician leaders, effectively advocate to reform state level addiction policy, and serve as regional resources of addiction expertise. Simultaneously, we need a thriving national organization that can leverage the strengths of our chapters, align common initiatives across our enterprise, leverage relationships with key national organizations to reform federal drug policy, effectively pressure health plans to appropriately recognize and reimburse evidence-based addiction services, and set the standard for what it means to deliver outstanding addiction care.

This is an incredible time for our field, as we are in a time of unprecedented change in health care and attention to the impact of addiction. I aim to keep us focused on our mission, to draw on my personal experience in patient care, education, and research, and to ensure that we listen to and respond to the ideas and needs of our members.

Biographical Sketch

Dr. Danovitch is the Chairman of the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Neurosciences at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. He earned his bachelor's degree from UC Berkeley, and his medical doctorate from UCLA. He completed psychiatry residency at Columbia, an addiction psychiatry fellowship at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, and a Master of Business Administration at the UCLA Anderson School of Management. Prior to his current role he served as Director of Addiction Psychiatry and Addiction Psychiatry Fellowship at Cedars-Sinai. His current research is funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) and the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI). He is the author of over 60 articles and chapters, and co-editor of two books: Addiction—Psychiatric Clinics of North America, and The Assessment and Treatment of Addiction—Best Practices and New Frontiers.

Dr. Danovitch previously served as Director At Large on the ASAM Board of Directors, and currently serves on the Conference Planning Committee and Criteria Strategy Committee. He is a past President of the California Society of Addiction Medicine, where he served on numerous committees over the years, including the Board of Directors, Public Policy, Communications, Education, and Integration and Access to Systems of Care. He is a Distinguished Fellow of the American Society of Addiction Medicine, and Fellow of the American Psychiatric Association. In 2016 he was appointed by the Governor of California to serve as a Commissioner on the State Mental Health Services Oversight and Accountability Commission. He lives in Los Angeles with his wife and three kids.