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RIA has a history of excellence in scientific research, earning a national and international reputation for leadership in the study of addictions. A timeline of significant RIA events is provided below.

1964 In response to growing societal recognition of problems related to alcohol and alcohol abuse, New York State Governor Nelson A. Rockefeller appointed an Advisory Council on Alcoholism to study and discuss treatment, research and prevention.
1965 Legislation established the Council on Alcoholism and recognized alcoholism as a “public health problem” and called for appropriate funds to “research into the causes and means of prevention of alcoholism, the utilization of modern methods for the care, rehabilitation and treatment of alcoholics…and for the prevention and control of alcoholism among the people of the state.”
1966 The Advisory Council on Alcoholism was directed to develop a comprehensive plan for a major alcoholism research facility in New York that would develop and engage in investigations into the sociological, physiological, psychological and pharmacological aspects of the problems of alcohol use and abuse.
1967 Governor Rockefeller announced the selection of Buffalo as the site of the Research Institute, in affiliation with the expanding State University of New York at Buffalo. The final proposal and plan from the university was prepared by Dr. Lawrence Cappiello from the Faculty of Health Sciences, with input from a number of UB departments
1970 The Research Institute on Alcoholism was established in affiliation with The State University of New York at Buffalo (UB) as a part of the New York State Division of Research of the Department of Mental Hygiene. RIA’s mission was to address all aspects of alcoholism by studying the use and abuse of alcohol and its causes, treatment and prevention. Cedric Smith, MD, then chair and professor of UB’s Department of Pharmacology and Therapeutics, was named as the first director of the Institute. Dr. Smith remained director until 1979.
RIA moved from Amherst to its current location at 1021 Main Street and became a part of what is now called the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus, adjacent to Roswell Park Cancer Institute, Buffalo General Hospital, the Hauptman-Woodward Medical Research Institute, and as of 2002, the New York State Center of Excellence in Bioinformatics Department of Pharmacology.
1980 Ben Morgan Jones, PhD, a psychologist who researched the effects of alcohol on intellectual performance, joined the Institute as director.
1986 Howard Blane, PhD, was named director and continued his research in alcohol use and prevention planning.
1987 The Minority Research Development Program began as an eight-week summer program to encourage minority high school students to pursue scientific careers. Funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), a total of 95 “future scientists” participated in the 12-year program.
1990 The Clinical Research Center (CRC) opened, the only alcoholism and substance abuse treatment program in New York State designed to have clinicians and researchers work together developing and evaluating new methods for treating addictive behaviors.

RIA’s name was changed to the Research Institute on Addictions, reflecting an expanded focus from alcoholism to also include substance abuse, treatment, families and other issues related to addictions.


The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) designated RIA as a National Alcohol Research Center and funded the Center for the Clinical and Medical Epidemiology of Alcohol. The center was a collaborative project between RIA and UB’s Department of Social and Preventive Medicine.

1995 The 25th anniversary of the Institute was celebrated on December 15, 1995, with an open house and reception. State and local policymakers, members of community groups and treatment providers were present as Cedric Smith, MD, was honored for his contributions as the institute's first director.
1996 Brenda A. Miller, PhD, was named acting director following Dr. Blane’s retirement, and concentrated her research on the connections between alcohol and drug use, family violence and women’s experiences of victimization.
1998 Gerard J. Connors, PhD, was appointed director of the institute. He continued his research on the treatment of alcohol use disorders and on treatment outcome evaluation.
1999 On November 18, 1999, RIA, formerly a component of the New York State Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services (OASAS), became part of the University at Buffalo, The State University of New York. RIA scientists continue to explore aspects of alcoholism and substance abuse. Some focus on the causes of these problems, some examine the consequences, and others develop new ways to prevent and treat addictions.
2000 RIA was awarded a NIAAA postdoctoral training grant on alcohol etiology and treatment, building on the institute's strong history of postdoctoral opportunities. The program provides specialized postdoctoral training for individuals seeking to pursue a career in alcohol research. Research training is focused in two primary areas: (1) etiology and course of alcohol use and misuse and (2) treatment for alcohol use disorders.
2005 The NIAAA postdoctoral training grant is renewed for another five-year term.
2011 Gil Kerlikowske, director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, visited RIA to learn more about ongoing research conducted by our scientists.
  Kenneth E. Leonard, PhD, was appointed director of the institute, and continues his research on marital and family processes, parenting and infant development, interpersonal aggression, and bar and domestic violence.
2012 RIA celebrates entering its fifth decade of research excellence with a gathering formally introducing Kenneth E. Leonard as director, and congratulating and thanking Gerard J. Connors for his service as director.
  RIA sponsored a two-day conference, “The Challenge of Reducing College Student Substance Use,” featuring presentations by researchers from across New York State.
2013 RIA hosted a university-wide Addictions Research Day that brought together scientists from across UB to identify and foster collaborative research opportunities. In the fall, RIA was co-sponsor and host for a two-day conference, “Neuroscience Research on Substance Abuse,” a program to unify and advance the neuroscience research vision of SUNY schools and health centers.
2014 Two RIA studies were featured in UB's year-end roundup of "Twelve Amazing Discoveries from 2014."
2015 RIA Director Kenneth Leonard, PhD, received the Distinguished Scientific Contributions award from the American Psychological Association’s Society of Addiction Psychology at the 2015 annual APA conference, in recognition of his distinguished theoretical or empirical contributions to research in the addictions field.
2016 The NIAAA postdoctoral training grant is once again renewed. Since its inception in 2000, the Postdoctoral Program has provided more than two dozen scientists with the opportunity to become more proficient and productive in their research activities and advance their own careers in addiction studies. Many former postdoctoral associates now hold teaching and research positions at top U.S. universities.
  More than 100 people attended an Open House on Student Research in Addiction Sciences at RIA in April to learn more about the interdisciplinary addictions research conducted by UB students under the direction of RIA research scientists and affiliated UB faculty. 
  RIA, UB and the New York State Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services (OASAS) were co-sponsors of the National Prevention Network Conference in September at the Buffalo Niagara Convention Center, attended by more than 1,000 addiction specialists and researchers from across the country.
  RIA's Clinical Research Center (CRC) was renamed UB Addiction Treatment Services (ATS) to reflect its expanded treatment offerings under the auspices of RIA's clinical research studies. 
  For a complete list of ongoing projects, visit the Currently Funded Projects page. For a history of research projects from 1985-2016, visit the Previously Funded Projects page.