Keith Humphreys given honor approved by Queen Elizabeth II

The Stanford Medicine professor, internationally known for his research on addiction treatment and contributions to public policy, also received an award from the Veterans Administration.

- By Nina Bai

Keith Humphreys was named an Honorary Officer of the Order of the British Empire by Queen Elizabeth II before she died.
Steve Fisch

Keith Humphreys, PhD, a professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at the Stanford School of Medicine and an international expert on addiction treatment and public policy, has been named an Honorary Officer of the Order of the British Empire. Queen Elizabeth II approved the honor before she died, and it was announced by her government Sept. 23.

The Order of the British Empire was created by King George V during World War I to recognize public service to the nation. Humphreys was honored for services to science and policy on addiction. Membership in the order is termed “honorary” for individuals like Humphreys who are not citizens of the UK or Commonwealth realms.

Humphreys, the Esther Ting Memorial Professor, learned through a phone call from the British ambassador to the U.S. that he received the title. “I was delighted,” he said. “It’s a rare thing for someone who’s not British to receive, so it feels like the ultimate welcoming.”

Humphreys has forged many collaborations and worked extensively in the UK over the past two decades. He has served on the UK Commission of Alcohol Harm, has testified in Parliament and advises multiple government agencies on addiction-related policy.

“From his efforts to reduce substance abuse in the United Kingdom to his robust research with veteran populations, Dr. Keith Humphreys has devoted his career to helping people recover from drug addiction and avoid relapse,” said Lloyd Minor, MD, dean of the Stanford School of Medicine“I am thrilled about Dr. Humphreys’ well-deserved award and look forward to the great work he’ll continue to do in this important field.”

Humphreys helped launch a pilot program in London to use a mandatory abstinence approach to address drunken driving and violence. The program has since been adopted nationwide. It is known as the 24/7 Sobriety Program in the United States.

Humphreys is also an honorary professor of psychiatry at the Institute of Psychiatry, King’s College, London, and deputy editor in chief of the UK-based journal Addiction.

“I’m getting really good at the language,” he said.

Veterans Affairs recognition

Humphreys, a senior career scientist at the Veterans Affairs Health Services Research Center in Palo Alto, California, also won the 2021 Under Secretary Award for Outstanding Achievement in Health Services Research — the highest honor for a VA health services researcher.

Over his three-decade career at the VA, he has conducted research evaluating access to and outcomes of various treatments for substance use and psychiatric disorders. One focus has been self-help groups, such as Alcoholics Anonymous, which he has shown to reduce patients’ risk of relapse after addiction treatment.

Humphreys also led a multisite study of VA methadone clinics, which demonstrated that better adherence to clinical-trial-derived practice guidelines was associated with less heroin use by addicted patients.

During the Obama administration, Humphreys served as senior policy adviser at the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy. He has also advised several agencies, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. He has testified before Congress multiple times about the opioid epidemic and drug addiction.

The VA award comes with $150,000 in research funding over three years, which Humphreys said will allow him to expand his research on racial and gender representation in clinical research to veteran populations.

About Stanford Medicine

Stanford Medicine is an integrated academic health system comprising the Stanford School of Medicine and adult and pediatric health care delivery systems. Together, they harness the full potential of biomedicine through collaborative research, education and clinical care for patients. For more information, please visit

2023 ISSUE 2

How the environment and health interact