BUFFALO, N.Y. -- The University at Buffalo Research Institute on
Addictions (RIA), known for its groundbreaking research on
addictive behavior in all its forms, is featured this month in the
international journal Addiction as part of a series on addiction
research centers and the nurturing of creativity.
The RIA is in good company. Previous issues of the journal have
featured: the National Institute on Alcohol and Drug Policies in
Brazil; the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug
Addiction; the Centre for Alcohol and Drug Research in Denmark; the
Norwegian Centre for Addiction Research; the Centre for Addiction
and Mental Health in Toronto; and the Chinese National Institute on
Drug Dependence at Peking University.
The article, co-written by RIA's Gerard J. Connors, former
director, senior research scientist and professor, and Kimberly S.
Walitzer, deputy director, on behalf of the staff of RIA, details
the history of RIA from its establishment in 1970 as a part of the
New York State Department of Mental Hygiene through its legislative
transfer to UB in 1999.
"RIA staff is enormously honored to have been highlighted by the
prestigious journal Addiction. The selection of RIA reflects an
international recognition of the important research that has
consistently been conducted at RIA over the past four decades."
Kenneth Leonard, RIA's current director, said.
In addition to RIA's administrative history, Walitzer and
Connors describe its research evolution, noting the expansion of
focus -- beyond alcohol--to include use and abuse of drugs and the
study of gambling behavior and pathology.
In order to address this expansion of focus, the authors point
out that RIA is staffed with senior research scientists whose study
activities represent disciplines ranging from behavioral
neuroscience to survey epidemiology.
Leonard says that the results from RIA's studies are meaningful
on multiple levels to scientists, policy makers, health care
workers and health consumers. For example:
- RIA scientists have developed and tested innovative
interventions for individuals with alcohol and substance use
problems, as well as for a variety of specific groups with unique
treatment issues, such as college students, DWI offenders and
individuals with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
- RIA researchers have improved understanding of the impact of
substance abuse among women both during pregnancy as well as after
pregnancy. They are working with pregnant mothers who were abusing
tobacco during pregnancy and looking for ways to help them
- RIA research on drinking and drugs in the workplace
demonstrated that 15 percent of the U.S. workforce has used or been
under the influence of alcohol at work; 63 percent reported they
could bring alcohol into work. From these results, RIA researchers
have developed a set of recommendations for how employers can
recognize substance in the workplace and effectively intervene.
- RIA's groundbreaking research on energy drinks has pointed out
the often risky and dangerous behavior (binge drinking, violence,
sexual assaults, drunk driving) that occurs when college-age adults
consume energy drinks and mix them with alcohol.
In addition, Leonard points out that RIA has been one of UB's
top recipients of federal grant awards, in excess of $108 million.
Currently, RIA is holding and/or supporting 41 federal grant
But this funding isn't acquired at the expense of the scientific
creativity and that's what sets RIA apart, according to
Connors says a culture of support is evident at RIA, from the
beginning of the grant application, to support of the grant-funded
research, to acknowledgement of the research results.
This creative and productive environment, says Connors, is
attributable to the bright, passionate scientists, the respectful
collegial environment, the multidisciplinary thinking and an array
of resources available to support RIA researchers.
"RIA has an administrative philosophy that buffers scientists
as much as possible from bureaucracy. As a result, scientists can
focus on what they do best: the development of science," he