Dr. Herbert Kleber, a man who pioneered substance abuse research and treatment, was honored by Google on Tuesday in the form of a Doodle.
On Tuesday morning, people looking for answers to life’s questions opened the search engine’s homepage to find an ode to Kleber. The Doodle, illustrations that Google creates to honor people or mark special occasions, showed Kleber with a notepad in hand sitting across from a woman, who could be presumed to be a patient.
Kleber was assigned to a prison hospital in Lexington, Kentucky, in 1964. At the prison hospital, thousands of inmates were being treated for addiction and Kleber noticed that after the vast majority were released, they’d relapse. So, he decided it was time to develop a new approach.
His wife, Ann Burlock Lawver, told Google that her husband didn’t see addiction as a “moral failing,” but as a medical problem that he wanted to use science to solve. Instead of punishing or shaming patients, Kleber carefully used medication and therapeutic communities to help patients stay on the road to recovery and avoid relapse.
While President George H.W. Bush was in office, Kleber was appointed and served as deputy director for demand reduction at the Office of National Drug Control Policy. He implemented programs for prevention, education and treatment that led to a decreased demand for illegal drugs.
He also co-founded the National Policy Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse, which is now the nation’s leading science-based nonprofit organization dedicated to changing how America addresses addiction. Along with conducting research, the organization helps shape public policies as a public health issue.
“One way I see Herb’s visionary brilliance is through his ability for problem-solving, whether domestically or professionally. When everyone else was looking in one direction, Herb would (metaphorically) turn his head and his thinking to somewhere completely different—and come up with original, viable solutions,” Lawver said.
In 1996, Kleber was elected to be a member of the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Science, and the Doodle was intended to honor the 23 year anniversary of his election.
Over his 50-year career, Kleber authored hundreds of articles, wrote multiple books and served as a mentor to other medical professionals. He passed away on October 5, 2018, at the age of 84. At the time of his death, Kleber was traveling with his wife and children in Santorini, Greece.
In the wake of his passing, Lawver told Google she was going through his papers and found multiple letters from people who thanked him for his support. She noted that he was more than just an academic mentor to people, but “championed” their professional and personal lives as well.
“Even though we were very different as individuals, I being a photographer and he being a scientist, he gave me absolute support in all my endeavors,” Lawver said. “His confidence in me and loving support of my work helped me grow as an artist and as a person. I miss marvelous Herb beyond words.”
This article has been updated to reflect that the Doodle ran on Tuesday, not Monday, as was originally scheduled.