Skip to main content
NIH Record - National Institutes of Health

NIDA Recognizes Johnston, Developer of ‘Monitoring the Future Survey’

Dr. Volkow presents certificate to Dr. Johnston.

NIDA director Dr. Nora Volkow presents certificate to Dr. Lloyd Johnston.

The National Institute on Drug Abuse honored its grantee Dr. Lloyd Johnston, who 42 years ago designed and began the nation’s annual Monitoring the Future (MTF) survey. NIDA recognized him for his many years of contributions to public health on the eve of his departure as the survey’s principal investigator.

Johnston is an Angus Campbell collegiate research professor and university distinguished research scientist at the University of Michigan’s Institute for Social Research. He has been the lead investigator for MTF since its inception in 1975, and will continue to advise the new survey leadership.

The MTF survey, which is released each December, tracks annual drug use trends in 8th, 10th and 12th grade students, including attitudes and perceived risks of specific drugs. In 1975, Johnston oversaw the first nationwide survey of about 16,000 seniors in more than 130 public and private high schools nationwide, recruiting all of the high school principals himself. The survey has now grown to more than 45,000 participants from close to 400 schools around the country.

Johnston believes that rapidly identifying upswings in substance use, including new substances arriving on the scene, and documenting the benefits of intervention, are among MTF’s major achievements during his tenure.

On Dec. 13, just after the 42nd news conference outlining survey findings, NIDA director Dr. Nora Volkow surprised Johnston with a certificate of appreciation from NIDA as well as letters from NIH director Dr. Francis Collins and congressional representatives from Michigan. For Johnston’s full bio, visit For a more in-depth article spanning his career, see For videos, go to

Back to Top