Toni Shippenberg was both a distinguished scientist and a pillar of the NIDA IRP community, having devoted two decades of her life pursuing neuroscience addiction research on behalf of NIDA’s mission. She was seen as an influential leader—both nationally and internationally—in the opiate and psychostimulant research areas, and was one of the crown jewels of the IRP. Dr Shippenberg received her BS in Neuroscience from Colgate University in 1979 and earned a PhD in pharmacology in 1985 from the Baylor College of Medicine. She subsequently undertook post-doctoral work at the Max Planck Institute of Psychiatry in Martinsried, Germany, where she would work for 7 years in the field of neuropharmacology, gradually taking on greater leadership roles culminating in the position of Chief of the Drug Abuse Research Unit for the Institute in Munich. In 1992, she joined NIDA in the Preclinical Pharmacology Laboratory as a Senior Staff Fellow and later went on to a Tenure Track position, obtaining tenure in 2001 as a Senior Investigator and Chief of the Integrative Neuroscience Section of the Behavioral Neuroscience Research Branch. In 2010, she was appointed as Chief of the newly created Integrative Neuroscience Research Branch before formally stepping down from that position earlier this year due to illness.
Toni’s contributions to the fields of neuroscience and neuropharmacology over the years were outstanding and are reflected by the high esteem she was held in by colleagues within NIH as well as throughout the United States and abroad. For many years, she held influential positions within the neuroscience community by serving as Reviewing Editor for the Journal of Neuroscience and on the Editorial Boards of Neuropsychopharmacology and Molecular and Cellular Pharmacology. In addition, she served as a reviewer for dozens of extramural and intramural grants, participated on numerous advisory boards, and maintained a myriad of extramural collaborations. Her contributions to the field did not go unnoticed, as the NIH Director appointed her to the prestigious Senior Biomedical Research Service (SBRS) in 2005, a designation allotted to only 500 of the most outstanding scientists within the United States Public Health Service (PHS). In addition, in 2004, she was appointed as an Honorary Professor by the University of Queensland in Australia and also held appointments of Adjunct Associate Professor at the University of Maryland Medical School and Research Associate Professor at Georgetown University Medical Center. Dr Shippenberg was the recipient of numerous awards over the years, including the NIDA/NIH Women Scientist Achievement Award in 2009, a J. William Fulbright Senior Specialist Award in 2008, an Australian Federation Fellow award in 2006, and the NIDA Director’s Scientific Merit Award in 1994, 1995, and 1998.
Not only was Toni a distinguished neuroscientist, but she was also an exemplary mentor and citizen within the NIH and NIDA communities. Her mentees consistently moved on to successful independent scientific careers at leading institutions around the world, and her fellows invariably lauded her for her availability, knowledge, support, and generosity. Her mentorship abilities were recognized in 2005 when she won an NIH Outstanding Mentor of the Year Award. Furthermore, Toni was extremely generous with her time through service on the NIDA Animal Care and Use Committee, the IRP Promotions and Tenure Committee, and the NIDA Postdoctoral Advisory Committee, not to mention memberships on a host of additional NIH committees.
On a personal note, Toni’s positive energy, sense of humor, and warm personality will be missed as much as her science. She will be remembered both as a wonderful person and for her contributions to addiction neuroscience.
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Bonci, A. Toni S Shippenberg. Neuropsychopharmacol 37, 2889 (2012). https://doi.org/10.1038/npp.2012.199