Remembering Herb Kleber
As a pioneer, researcher, and advocate for the treatment of addiction, Herb Kleber, MD ’60, is more relevant today than ever before. After graduating from Jefferson Medical College, now Sidney Kimmel Medical College, Kleber’s path took an interesting route. From a prison in Lexington, Kentucky—where he was stationed as a psychiatrist and his interest in addiction first began—to a faculty position at Yale, to the Office of National Drug Control in the White House under President George H.W. Bush, Dr. Kleber was dedicated to changing people’s perception of addiction every step of the way.
Dr. Kleber was a trailblazer in his own right, pursuing a career in psychology at a time when it was still viewed as a pseudoscience, speaking out on the side of addicts, and ultimately revolutionizing how addiction is viewed and treated. His research and evidence-based treatment redefined what addiction was and shifted the paradigm from addict to patient. His work proved that addiction was not a moral shortcoming of an individual but is actually a disease and should be treated as such.
On October 1, the 23rd anniversary of Dr. Kleber’s election into the National Academy of Medicine—and just four days before the first anniversary of his death—Dr. Kleber and his important contributions to the field of psychology and addiction treatment were remembered in the form of a Google doodle by artist Jarret Krosoczka.
Like Jefferson, Dr. Kleber dedicated his life to serving the underserved and support people most in need. When speaking about what motivates him during 2015 oral history for Columbia University, he said, “How else do I work with addicts for 40 years? I’m a perpetual optimist.”