Dr. Thomas McLellan

Dr. Thomas McLellan

Dr. McLellan is a Professor of Psychology in Psychiatry at the University of Pennsylvania and co-founder and Chief Executive Officer of the Treatment Research Institute (TRI), a not-for-profit research and development institute in Philadelphia. McLellan is nationally and internationally recognized for his more than 30 years of research into treatment effectiveness for substance abuse patients.
In 1991, he co-founded TRI as an independent, not-for-profit institute dedicated to conveying the results of research to policymakers, treatment providers, prevention organizations and the families of those affected by substance abuse. Through TRI and his many other endeavors, McLellan’s work has promoted better understanding of the factors that lead to treatment success, and has fostered greater understanding of addiction as a chronic illness that must be continually monitored and managed much like other chronically relapsing medical conditions such as diabetes and hypertension.

He was one of the first in the field to document the problems confronting the “business” of the nation’s substance abuse treatment system and, with the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, is leading a first-of-its kind partnership between scientists and industry specialists to adapt and apply lessons learned from other problem- plagued industries.

Helping doctors in mainstream medical health care recognize and respond to symptoms of alcohol and drug use in patients is another thrust of TRIs work under McLellan’s stewardship, as is his emphasis on removing government impediments to quality care in treatment; and implanting evidence-based practices for such diverse populations as substance abusing offenders and the families and significant others of substance abuse patients. For parents who suspect or are confronting drug use in their children, McLellan has teamed with the Partnership for a Drug Free America to convey accurate, science based information and tools to help these parents during their moments of awareness. Under McLellan, TRI was one of the first organizations in the nation to document and warn of the availability of drugs over the Internet.

McLellan’s emergence as a national leader in the field of addictions began in the 1980s when he was principal developer of the Addiction Severity Index (ASI) and the Treatment Services Review (TSR), measurement instruments that characterize the multiple dimensions of problems confronting substance abusing patients and the types and duration of treatment services offered in response. These tools have been translated into over 20 languages and are the most widely used instruments of their kind in the world. The ASI and TSR have helped to revolutionize the delivery of treatment and helped researchers and clinicians gain more insight into the efficacy of treatment.

McLellan has published more than 400 articles and chapters on addiction research and serves as Editor in Chief of the Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment. He serves on the editorial boards and as a reviewer of numerous medical and scientific journals. He has served as an advisor to many government and nonprofit scientific organizations, including the Office of National Drug Control Policy, Research and Evaluation; the National Practice Laboratory of the American Psychiatric Association, the Swiss National Science Foundation, the World Health Organization, and the Greek government. Among McLellan’s many honors and awards are the Life Achievement Award of the American Society of Addiction Medicine in 2003 and the 2002 award for Distinguished Contribution in Addiction Medicine from the Swedish Medical Association. In 2003 he received the prestigious Okey Honorary Lecture Award by the British Medical Society and in 2004 was named Innovator of the Year by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. McLellan received his B.A. from Colgate University and his M.S. and Ph.D. from Bryn Mawr College. He received postgraduate training in psychology at Oxford University in England.