Terms of Reference (click on)

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.




Role of a Regional Representative

Map of Regional Representatives

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. Atul Ambekar

Regional Representative - Indian Subcontinent & South East Asia

Dr. Atul Ambekar (MD) is a Professor, at the National Drug Dependence Treatment Centre (NDDTC) and Department of Psychiatry, All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), New Delhi, India. He is the founding Secretary General of the Addiction Psychiatry Society of India (APSI). He has been a member of many international and national expert bodies in the field of drug addiction including the Expert Advisory Panel on Drug Dependence (WHO, Geneva), Strategic Advisory Group on IDU and HIV (United Nations), and the National Consultative Committee on Drug Demand Reduction and Rehabilitation (Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment, Govt. of India). He has published several research papers, practice guidelines and training manuals in the field of addiction psychiatry.

Currently he is a professor at the National Drug Dependence Treatment Centre, All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) with main activities in teaching, training, patient care, research and public health programming.



Dr. Shalini Arunogiri

Regional Representative - Oceania

Dr Shalini Arunogiri MBBS(Hons) PhD FRANZCP (Cert. Addiction Psychiatry) MSc (Addiction Studies) MPsychiatry


Shalini is a consultant addiction psychiatrist and clinician researcher. She is Deputy Clinical Director at Turning Point, an Australian national addiction treatment and research centre; and Deputy Head and Senior Lecturer at the Department of Psychiatry at Central Clinical School, Monash University. Shalini is Chair of the RANZCP Binational Faculty of Addiction Psychiatry, the peak body for psychiatrists across Australia and New Zealand.


Her clinical and research interests include methamphetamine use and mental health problems, and women’s health and addictive disorders. She is an investigator on multiple Australian clinical trials of medication treatments for addiction, including DEBUT, N-ICE and LiMA.

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 Nady el-Guebaly

Regional Director – Canada


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.



USA regional rep - TBA

Regional Representative – USA


Dr. Tarek Gawad

Regional Representative - Eastern Mediterranean (incl Middle East and North Africa)

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 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. 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. 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. Marc Potenza

Regional Representative - South America

I have extensive experience and expertise in studying the neurobiology of addictions. Over the past 20 years, I have investigated addictive behaviors and disorders from translational and interdisciplinary perspectives. I have investigated how a neurobiological understanding of addictive processes may be used to advance treatments for drug addictions. I was amongst the first to describe adolescence as a neurodevelopmental period of addiction vulnerability and have published extensively on adolescent risk behaviors including substance misuse. I have studied motivational and emotional processing in addictions. I have served as PI on multiple NIH (NIDA, NIAAA) R01 grants (continuous support for more than a decade) and have been PI on multiple center grants. I have established ongoing research collaborations in multiple countries including China, South Korea, Hungary, Spain, Italy and elsewhere. My international research includes multiple methodologies including brain imaging, genetics, clinical trials and epidemiological surveys. I consult on a regular basis to the World Health Organization on matters of addiction and am thus familiar with cultural and jurisdictional considerations in studying and understanding addictions. I have mentored over 100 individuals in the area of addiction research. I am currently a PI on a NIDA K12 grant that supports training of junior faculty to develop into the next generation of clinical researchers developing new and more effective treatments for people with addictions. I have also recently been designated a High Level Foreign Talent for collaborative work in China. I am currently a mentor to five individuals with K01 support.

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. 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. 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.