Terms of Reference

The Regional Council is developed to establish a network between ISAM Affiliate Societies with an organizational governance to motivate and promote grassroot communication and leadership development around the globe. Regional representation of needs, priorities, education, advocacy, and recommendations to the ISAM Board of Directors would thus be enhanced.

The regional representatives reflect their own area of influence inclusive of overall 15 regions as follows: Eastern Europe, Western Europe, Northern Europe, North America, Central America and Mexico, South America, East Asia, West Asia, Central Asia, South & South-east Asia, North Africa, East, West & South Africa and finally Oceania.

The ISAM Regional Council consists of:

(1) The Regional Council Chair:

      Hamed Ekhtiari (University of Minnesota, USA)


(2) ISAM Regional Representatives:  

Rabia Bilici (Eastern Europe), Sophia Achab (Western Europe), Jona Levola (Northern Europe), Dario Gigena Parker (South America), Wei Hao (East Asia), Atul Ambekar (South & Southeast Asia), Solomon Rataemane (East, West & South Africa), Shalini Arunogiri (Oceania), David Martell (Canada), Rania Mamdouh (North and West Africa)


(3) Chairs/Representatives from ISAM affiliated societies and affiliated organizations


The ISAM Regional Council plays a crucial role in connecting societies/organisations within the ISAM community with organising meetings, and workshops in respective time zones and following up with viable workstreams. Regional representatives or ambassadors have an essential and upfront role in promoting communication and leadership development at a regional and global level in addiction sciences. 


ISAM Regional Representatives


Regional representatives or ambassadors are selected from a cohort of key leaders in addiction medicine/psychiatry from different parts of the world. Nominations will be submitted to the ISAM Regional Council for initial evaluations and preparation to ISAM BOD which will approve (or not) these nominations. Moreover, nominations need to show sound regional professional affiliation, influence, and reputation. Lastly, regional representative positions are reviewed every 3 years by the ISAM Regional Council. The nominees for the regional representative need to be bona fide members of the ISAM. 


Here is a list of core roles and expectations of an ISAM regional representative that is achievable in close communications with the ISAM Regional Council co-chairs. In general, the regional representative will act as an ambassador of ISAM in the region. 

(1) To identify and develop a list of organisations and key addiction medicine experts 

(2) To contact people in their regions (spheres of influence) and to facilitate their ISAM membership process 

(3) To interact with ISAM committees and special interest groups in areas interfacing with regional activities with the aim to pursue culture-informed and knowledge-based workstreams globally to ultimately improve clinical care in addiction medicine 

(4) To support educational/training/conference activities and materials (perhaps in different languages) in their regions. To participate in such activities taking place in their region on behalf of ISAM as and when nominated by the ISAM for the same 

(5) To facilitate development of an understanding for needs and priorities in addiction medicine at a regional levels 

(6) To contribute in reflecting regional needs/priorities in the ISAM products including Webinars, Courses, ISAM Textbook, ISAM GEN Global Surveys, Guidelines/Roadmaps and Consensus Statements etc. 

(7) To contribute in nominations on a 3 yearly basis for Fellowship status to the ISAM members in the 10 regions





  • First General Assembly of Addiction Medicine Societies (February 2022)


The first general assembly of addiction medicine societies ran with more than 150 attendees and 50 speakers from 40 countries on February 10, 2022.

Here in this meeting, representatives of addiction medicine societies around the world got the chance to introduce themselves and share their status, thoughts, ideas and comments with every other society present in the webinar. All the societies were also introduced with the fundamentals of ISAM-GEN and were invited to take part in the upcoming surveys in the future.


Watch the full recording here: 


Speakers’ bio sketches and intro to their societies:



  1. October 2022: Second General Assembly of Addiction Medicine Societies


The second general assembly of addiction medicine societies was held in person on October 3rd as a preconference program for the ISAM 2022 congress. Addiction medicine societies’ representatives from several countries around the world thereby shared experiences, in two decent panels, on the processes through which addiction medicine societies are formed, developed, and extended as well as exchanging knowledge on how international interactions of such could help towards advancements in the field, proceeded by follow-up discussions.


3. Regional Council activities report Oct 2022 to May 2024






Role of a Regional Representative

Dr. Hamed Ehktiari, Chair

Dr. Hamed Ekhtiari Chair

Hamed Ekhtiari, MD, PhD, Department of Psychiatry & Behavioural Sciences, University of Minnesota Medical School, USA.

Dr. Ekhtiari’s research at Department of Psychiatry & Behavioural Sciences, University of Minnesota is focused to reshape the future of addiction medicine using brain imaging in combination with brain stimulation technologies and cognitive rehabilitation. Dr. Ekhtiari is director of the international network of tES/TMS trials for addiction medicine (INTAM). INTAM with over 50 lab members promotes international collaborations to increase research quality and implementation of non-invasive brain stimulation technologies in addiction medicine. Dr Ekhtiari was born and raised in Iran and received his MD and then PhD in neuroimaging from Tehran University and his post-doctoral fellowship in computational psychiatry from Laureate Institute for Brain Research, Tulsa, Oklahoma, USA.


Dr. Sophia Achab

Regional Representative - Europe

Dre Achab Sophia is psychiatrist with medical doctorate achieved in 2009 and a PhD in Life sciences completed in 2014, both in France. She has a practice in addiction medicine since 2007 and completed the recently created Swiss degree in Psychiatry and psychotherapy in addiction medicine in 2017.

She is senior lecturer at Faculty of Medicine of Geneva University, teaches in several European countries, and supports early career professionals in addiction medicine worldwide.

She is medical Director of the Swiss pioneering clinic specialized in addictive behaviors (Gambling, gaming, shopping, work..) at University Hospitals of Geneva in Switzerland.

She developed a unique fit between clinical practice, research, teaching and public health mandates in this emergent medical field, advocating for a balance between opportunities and health risks of tech.

She has been part since 2013 of several technical advisory groups (TAGs) for

international and Swiss policy making and public health entities in the field of addiction medicine. She is co-Head of Geneva WHO Collaborating Centre for training and research in Mental Health and holds a certificate in Improving Global Health : Focusing on Quality and Safety delivered by Harvard Global Health Institute in 2020.

She is co-chair of the executive committee of ISAM-NeXT and advisory board member elect of International Society for the Study of Addictive Behaviors (ISSBA), with a specific focus on gender and international cooperation as core factors shaping the future of addiction medicine



Dr. Fares Alharbi

Regional Representative West Asia

Dr. Fares AlHarbi did his Internship at the King Khaled University Hospital,

King Saud University, Riyadh, KSA


And his Residency Psychiatry 2003 – 2007

Saudi Commission for Health Specialties

He completed a two-year Psychiatry- Addiction Fellowship at the University of Calgary in Calgary, AB, Canada


He is currently the Chairman of the Psychiatric and Addiction services, at Dallah-Namar Hospital, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia; Chairmen of Board Director, Auon Medical Rehabilitation Center, Alexandria, Egypt; CEO of the Maan Medical Complex, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia and Board Director, of the Mosandah Rehabilitation Centre; in Alexandria, Egypt


Dr. Ravindra Rao

Regional Representative - Indian Subcontinent & South East Asia

I have 20 years of experience of working in the field of addiction after completing my postgraduation in psychiatry in 2004. In these 20 years, I have worked for 5 years with the National AIDS Control program in India and in the UNODC Regional Office for South Asia. Through UNODC and subsequently at AIIMS, I have experience of providing technical support in other countries including Nepal, Maldives, Bhutan, Sri Lanka, and Bangladesh. At NDDTC, we regularly receive officials from these countries who are interested in learning about addiction treatment models. I have set up the first mobile methadone van in India, which exists in few countries globally. I have also developed an asynchronous online training programme on substance use disorder for doctors and successfully trained more than 200 doctors through the platform. I have played a key role in expansion of Opioid Agonist Treatment in India as well as in conducting the national survey on magnitude of substance use in India in 2019.
I have been a member of ISAM since 2016 and a fellow of ISAM since 2021. I was involved in setting up the society for addiction psychiatry professionals in India and currently Treasurer of the Addiction Psychiatry Society of India (APSI), an affiliate organization of the ISAM. I was member of the organizing committee of the ISAM Congress held in New Delhi in 2019. I am a regular attendee of and presenter in the ISAM Congress and have physically attended the congress held in Dundee as well as recently in Morocco and the virtual congress in 2021.
I believe through my experience in India and in other countries, I can contribute positively and substantially to the workings of the regional council. There is a huge scope of expanding the scope of the regional council in this part of the world, where there is a huge burden of various substance use disorders, especially alcohol, cannabis, and opioid use disorders with threat of explosion of stimulants and new psychoactive substances.

Dr. Rabia Bilici

Regional Representative - Eastern Europe

Dr. Rabia Bilici, from İstanbul, Turkey, received a bachelor’s degree in medicine in 1999 from İstanbul University İstanbul
Medical Faculty. After graduating, she completed her psychiatric residency between 2002-2007. In 2012, she
founded the Alcohol and Drug Addiction Research, Treatment and Education Center at Erenköy Mental Health and
Neurological Diseases Research and Training Hospital. In 2017, she began working as an Associate Professor of
Psychiatry at the University of Health Sciences. She is the founding director of a doctoral program as the head of the
Addiction and Fight against Addiction Department. Previously, Dr. Bilici worked as the Drug Addiction Plan Coordinator for the Republic of Turkey’s Ministry of Health. She is also the founder of the first outpatient rehabilitation center for addicted adults in Turkey. There she
established a mother-baby unit for addicted women. She was a chief physician at Erenkoy Mental
Health Hospital between 2016-2020. Dr. Bilici brings experience working on many projects with
the World Health Organization and is a member of the Green Crescent Science Board.
Bilici, who won a scholarship to the Fulbright Hubert H. Humphrey Program in the 2020-2021
academic year, completed her studies in the field of addiction at Virginia Commonwealth
University. Today she is working as a Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Health
Sciences. She is also an ISSUP member as a global trainer for Universal Treatment Curriculum.

Dr. Gregory Bunt

Senior ISAM Regional Council Advisor

Dr. Gregory Bunt graduated medical school in 1983 from NYU School of Medicine, and completed his residency in Psychiatry at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in 1987.  He was among the first to complete the Fellowship in Addiction Psychiatry at NYU School of Medicine (1989), and has since been on the NYU Medical School Faculty in the Division of Alcoholism and Drug Abuse, currently as an Assistant Clinical Professor of Psychiatry.  He is a diplomat of the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology with Special Added Qualifications in Addiction Psychiatry.

Dr. Bunt is a Past President of the New York Society of Addiction Medicine and a Past President of the International Society of Addiction Medicine. He was the Medical Director of Daytop Village for 25years.  He has authored over a dozen publications, and speaks nationally and internationally about addiction medicine and therapeutic communities.

Dr Nady el-Guebaly

Senior ISAM Regional Council Advisor


Dr. el-Guebaly’s introduction to mental health and addiction medicine dates back to 1969 during initial psychiatric training in the United Kingdom, followed by training in Canada and the United States

Addiction related work includes being the current Professor and Head of Division of Addiction, Department of Psychiatry at the University of Calgary, and the founding past Medical Director of the Calgary Health Region Addiction Centre and Program. Dr. el-Guebaly was the Founding Past President of the International Society of Addiction Medicine, its Executive Medical Director for another 6 years, and currently Chief Examiner of the International Certification Examination and Senior Editor of the recent Textbook of Addiction Treatment: International Perspectives (Springer 2015).

Dr. el-Guebaly completed three 3-year terms as Board Chair of the Alberta Gaming Research Institute, and is now the Alberta Gambling Research Institute’s current Research Director as well as Editor in Chief of the Canadian Journal of Addiction for the last 4 years. These interests have resulted in 260 peer-reviewed papers, 80 chapters, 568 presentations, and 60 past and current grants totaling $7 million.

He is a member, of Alberta’s Responsible Gambling Advisory Committee, the Royal College Addiction Medicine Specialty Committee, the Provincial Addiction Curricula and Experiential Skills Training for Alberta Health Services, and the CSAM Conference committee.



Dr. Tarek Gawad

Senior ISAM Regional Council Advisor

Prof. Gawad is currently holding positions as Director of Treatment and Rehabilitation at the National rehabilitation centre of Abu Dhabi UAE.  He is Professor of Psychiatry, Cairo University, Cairo Egypt.

He was graduated in 1981 from Faculty of Medicine Cairo University where he received his M.B. BCh ; Master degree in Psychological Medicine and Neurology (1985) ; MD Psychiatry (1991) and  Diploma in Addiction Behaviour – Institute of Psychiatry, London University (1987) .

Since his graduation he was appointed as staff member at the department of Psychiatry Faculty of Medicine Cairo university where he is still holding his position as professor since 2001.

He served as the Past President of the International Society of Addiction Medicine (ISAM), the past Chair of the World Psychiatric Association Section of Addiction Psychiatry (WPA).

He participated and published numerous research covering most of psychiatric subjects notably in addiction. His primarily interested in comorbidy studies and developing addiction psychiatric services. He is the Co-PI of the Fogarty grant od Addiction Research between Cairo university and UCLA since 2012.

His goal is to achieve well-established scientifically-based centres in Drug Addiction with a suitable network both nationally and internationally.


Dr. Ayana Gibbs

Regional Representative - Caribbean and Central America

Dr Ayana Gibbs MBChB, MRCPsych, PhD

Ayana is a consultant forensic psychiatrist, clinician researcher and digital nomad. She was born in Guyana, raised in Barbados and trained in psychiatry at the Maudsley Hospital in London, UK where she also received her PhD in Neuroscience from the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience (King’s College London). She is currently a clinician and Research Lead with Psychiatry-UK, a UK national online psychiatry service, where she is also leading the development of the Psychiatry-Caribbean expansion. Her goal is to improve access to mental health and substance use services and professionals across the Caribbean through tele-medicine.

Her clinical and research interests include adult ADHD, addictive disorders, prison mental health, women’s health and digital health.

Dr Dario Gigena Parker


Master in Drug Dependency
Secretary of Prevention and Assistance of Addictions. Ministry of Health of
Córdoba, Argentina.
President of ArSam (Argentinian Society of Addiction Medicine).
Founding Member of ISAM (International Society of Addiction Medicine)

Dr. Hugo Gonzalez

Regional Representative - Central America and Mexico

Head of Health Services for Addictions: I have excelled in a leadership role, overseeing health services focused on addiction treatment. This has involved planning, managing, and evaluating health services and teams. Currently, I am in the process of developing a groundbreaking risk and harm reduction model.


Educator and Mentor: As a professor, I have been instrumental in educating the next generation of psychiatrists in addiction courses for residents and postgraduate courses in addictions. Additionally, I have taken part in coordinating and participating in various diplomas, workshops, and conferences designed to enhance the training of healthcare professionals in substance use, addictions, and mental health.

I am presently engaged in the development of innovative learning management systems.


Research and Publications: I have made significant contributions to the field through collaboration on various research projects and the publication of numerous articles, book chapters, and a clinical practice guideline on the use of methadone in the HIV population.

Dr. Wei Hao

Regional Representative - East Asia Pacific

We are happy to welcome Prof. Wei Hao as our new ISAM Regional Representative for Eastern Asia. Prof Hao is a Professor of Psychiatry at the Mental Health Institute, Second Xianya Hospital, Central South University and also serves as the Director of WHO Collaborating Center of Psychosocial Factors, Drug Abuse and Health

Dr. Jonna Levola

Regional representative - Northern Europe


Jonna Levola, MD, PhD, is a psychiatrist and holds a special competency in addiction medicine from the Finnish Medical Association. She holds a PhD in Addiction Medicine and is currently finishing post-doctoral research in the field addiction psychiatry at the University of Helsinki, where she works as a clinical lecturer. Her research interests include epidemiology, prognosis and mortality related to substance use disorders, and more recently also behavioural addictions. Dr. Levola is the current president of the board of the Finnish Society of Addiction Medicine and a long-term member of the Society’s special competency board.

Dr. Rania Mamdouh

Regional Representative - North and West Africa

Dr Rania Mamdouh has a PhD degree in Psychiatry from Cairo University,Egypt, 2007 . ISAM Diploma in Addiction Medicine, 2004. She received intense training by Prof Rakhawy on Group therapy. Her MD thesis was on the impact of different type of group therapy on substance use patients. She received Addiction Research internship course in UCLA and ISAP, California, 2014. She received UTC Training, ICUDDR and ISSUP, 2019- 2020. Dr Rania is currently associate Professor of Psychiatry, Addiction Unit, Psychiatry department, Cairo University.

Dr Rania Participated in developing and implementation of the Egyptian National Program for Prevention Of Drug Use in Schools and Youth Centers,2004 till 2011 . She also worked for one year with the WHO- EMRO in development of the Middle East Life Skills Program for Adolescents.  She developed “Serenity Girls Program” psychiatric and Addiction Program for Women in Cairo, 2007 and currently she is the Program Manager . She participated in many researches in the domain of Women Addiction, adolescents drug use and prevention programs implementation, mindfulness techniques among opiate use patients, Impact of group therapies among substance use patients, researches on synthetic drugs and has international and national publications.

She began the family intervention program in the Addiction Unit Cairo   University, 2015 till current.

Dr Rania participated with the ministry of health in the National biannual Surveys  on drug use 2009 till 2018 .

Dr Rania is a consultant Addiction Psychiatry in Al Amal Hospital, Sultanate Oman, 2017.

She shared in development of the Egyptian National Program for Pregnant Addict Women who won the best practice in Africa, 2021 by the African Union.

She is currently sharing in training of the multidisciplinary team of the National MAT Program ( Medications Assisted Therapy). She leads the training of the Team of Egyptian National Women Substance Use Program.  2021, she joined the technical committee of the Egyptian National Observatory of Drugs and Drug Use. Dr Rania has a 22 years of practice, teaching and lots of training in Addiction Psychiatry and prevention

She joined ICUDDR Africa and organized the UTC training for 42 psychiatrist and psychologist in Egypt.

2021, she is a board member in African Global Health Association ( for expanding the Health Harm Reduction Programs.

Dr. David Martell

Regional Representative- Canada

Dr. David Martell, BSc, MD, CCFP (AM), FCFP, CSAM (Certificant), ISAM (Certification)

Assistant Professor, Department of Family Medicine, Dalhousie University

President Elect – Canadian Society of Addiction Medicine – CSAM-SMCA

Dr. Martell completed undergraduate study at Mount Allison University in 1993, a medical degree at the University of Western Ontario in 1997, and Family Medicine Residency at Dalhousie University in 1999. In 2019, after almost 19 years in General Family Medicine, he transitioned to a career in Addiction Medicine. He lives and works in Lunenburg, Nova Scotia.

Dr. Martell is a Peer Reviewer and serves on the Peer Review Committee of the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Nova Scotia. He is a front line Addiction Medicine provider with the South Shore Opioid Outreach Treatment Team, Direction 180, and Wagmatcook First Nation, all front-line collaborative multi-disciplinary teams. In 2019, he began work on Nova Scotia’s Opioid Use Disorder Practice Support Program, a novel knowledge translation and mentoring support service for primary care collaborative practices in Nova Scotia. He presently serves as Vice Chair of the Addiction Medicine Member Interest Group of the College of Family Physicians of Canada and Addiction Medicine Advisor to the Atlantic Mentorship Network, Pain and Addiction.

Dr. Martell has been a Board Representative for the Maritime Provinces from 2015 to 2019 and presently serves on the CSAM Board as a Member at Large. He also serves as chair of the Policy and Funding Committees.

Dr. Afarin Rahimi-Movaghar

Regional Representative - Central Asia

Afarin Rahimi-Movaghar, MD, MPH, Professor of Psychiatry

Director, Iranian National Center for Addiction Studies (INCAS),

Tehran University of Medical Sciences

Director, World Health Organization Collaborating Center on

Research and Training on Mental Health and substance Use



Afarin Rahimi-Movaghar has more than 25 years of experience in policy-making and research in mental health and substance use. She has served in several national-level positions and has been influential in developing mental health and demand and harm reduction programs over the last two decades in Iran.

Dr. Rahimi’s main interests are in health service research and epidemiology. Her research experiences include directing several national surveys –including two Iranian national mental health and substance use surveys (IranMHS), systematic reviews, qualitative studies, and developing national or global evidence-based guidelines on mental disorders and substance dependence. She has been a consultant for several programs for EMRO region countries and a member of several advisory committees at the International level.

At the time being, Afarin Rahimi-Movaghar is the head of the Iranian National Center for Addiction Studies (INCAS), and Professor of Psychiatry at Tehran University of Medical Sciences.


Dr. Solomon Rataemane

Regional Representative - Sub-Saharan Africa

Prof. Solomon Tshimong Rataemane

(President: African Association of Psychiatrists and Allied Professions 2014 – 2017)

Prof Rataemane is the past president of the African Association of Psychiatrists. He was HOD of Psychiatry at the UFS (1998-2003) and Medunsa (2003-2019). He has specific interest in addiction psychiatry and child & adolescent psychiatry. He was the deputy chairperson of the Central Drug Authority of SA 1995 – 2000 and then chairperson 2000 – 2005. He represented SA at AU activities relating to substance abuse. This included meetings of the INCB (International Narcotics Control Board in Vienna). He has participated in various activities on substance abuse planned by DSD and he continues to teach and provide support in this area. He is a past member of the Health Committee of the HPCSA that provides support to health practitioners affected by use of substances such as alcohol and drugs (and other issues that may lead to impairment). He holds numerous portfolios including the following

  • Chairperson of the Ministerial Advisory Committee on Mental Health in South Africa 2015- 2020
  • International Fellow of the American Psychiatric Association
  • Past Chair of International Relations Division of South African Association of Psychiatrists
  • Secretary General of World Association for Psycho-social Rehabilitation from 2015 to 2021
  • Past Deputy chair of MRC of South Africa 2007 – 2010
  • WPA (world psychiatric association) Zone 14 Representative and Board Member (2008 – 2014)
  • Chair of Conflict Management and Conflict Resolution Section of WPA (2011 – 2017)
  • Chairperson: Medical and Dental Board (MDB) of HPCSA 2020 – 2025


Dr. Carol Weiss

Regional Representative – USA

Carol J. Weiss, MD is an addiction psychiatrist boarded in both addiction psychiatry and addiction medicine. She is a Clinical Associate Professor in both the departments of psychiatry and medicine at Weill Cornell Medical College in New York, where she is also Associate Medical Director of the Center for Trauma and Addiction. She is on the Executive Committee of the Board of Directors of the American Academy of Addiction Psychiatry (AAAP), where she was the immediate past chair of the scientific and program committee.

Dr. Wole Akosile

Regional Representative Oceania

Dr. Wole Akosile

Dr. Wole Akosile
MBBS, MPH, Cert. Addiction. Psych, FRANZCP, FAChAM, PhD
Addiction Medicine Physician | Addiction Psychiatrist | Clinician-Researcher|Writer
Dr. Akosile is a highly experienced Clinician-Researcher, Addiction Medicine Physician, and Addiction Psychiatrist specializing in Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and other psychiatric illnesses. He pioneered research on the causal link between PTSD and Coronary Artery Disease. Currently serving as the Director of Ramsay New Farm Clinic’s Addiction Unit and Trans-Magnetic Stimulation Treatment Program, he previously held key roles as the Director of Darwin Drug and Alcohol Service and the Territory-wide Alcohol Mandatory Treatment Service.
As the chief investigator for a Pilot Randomised Controlled Trial comparing Cognitive-Behavioural Therapy (CBT)-Standard versus CBT-Memory Reconsolidation for Inpatients with PTSD, Dr. Akosile aims to improve patient outcomes by tailoring trauma-focused CBT based on memory reconsolidation research. He has authored numerous peer-reviewed publications in prestigious journals like the Asian Journal of Psychiatry, Psychiatry Research, Gene, and Drug and Alcohol Review, focusing on co-occurring illnesses and bridging the gap between physical and psychological health.
Driven by his patients’ experiences with trauma, Dr. Akosile’s work emphasizes understanding the profound impact of trauma on various bodily systems. Beyond his clinical expertise, he is an award-winning author, with his debut novel “The Gods of Women Have Gone Mad” blending dystopian elements with a coming-of-age narrative and romance. His upcoming novel, “Real Men Don’t Do Therapy,” explores complex family dynamics, the legacy of historical abuse on men, and the challenges faced by migrants in Australia seeking therapy. Dr. Akosile’s writings are compelling and thought-provoking, offering unique insights into human experiences and mental health journeys.