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RIA’s Gerard Connors receives prestigious national award

By Cathy Wilde

Release Date: August 29, 2013

“Dr. Connors is unique among mentors in that his contributions to the mentor-mentee relationship are dynamic and often continue across many career stages.”
Kenneth Leonard, director, Research Institute on Addictions
Gerard Connors

Gerard Connors

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BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Gerard Connors, PhD, senior research scientist and former director of the University at Buffalo’s Research Institute on Addictions, was recently recognized for his exemplary mentorship of promising scientists with a national award from the American Psychological Association’s Society of Addiction Psychology (SoAP).

Connors received the Distinguished Career Contributions to Education and Training Award at the 2013 annual APA conference in August.

A recognized expert in the study of alcohol and drug abuse and treatment, Connors joined the RIA in 1987 and served as director from 1998 to 2011.

RIA’s current director, Kenneth Leonard, PhD, nominated Connors for the award, citing the effective and lasting impact of his mentorship on graduate students, postdoctoral fellows and emerging scientists.

“Dr. Connors is unique among mentors in that his contributions to the mentor-mentee relationship are dynamic and often continue across many career stages,” Leonard said. “His meaningful counsel has been instrumental to our postdoctoral fellows in their transitions to professional careers, and has been valuable to junior and more established scientists as well.”

In addition to providing individual guidance to scientists at RIA, Connors served for 12 years as co-training director with R. Lorraine Collins, PhD, for RIA’s postdoctoral training program grant from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (a division of the National Institutes of Health), which fostered the development of more than 20 postdoctoral research fellows.

Ronda Dearing, PhD, senior research scientist at RIA, was mentored by Connors in the postdoctoral training program and praised his knowledge, experience and generosity with his time and resources.

“From the time that I began as a new postdoctoral fellow, Dr. Connors treated me as a valued colleague,” Dearing said. “Over the ensuing years, he has facilitated my professional development with gentle guidance and respect. Dr. Connors has consistently demonstrated his investment in my success, and has provided numerous opportunities that encouraged me to stretch my potential.” 

Connors has made multiple important contributions to the field of addictions research, particularly in developing new interventions for alcohol dependence, characterizing relapse following alcohol treatment and understanding the role of spirituality and therapeutic alliance as related to treatment and treatment outcomes. He has received more than $10 million in funding from the National Institutes of Health and the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.

His research findings have been published in numerous scholarly journals, including Addiction, Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research, Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs, and Psychology of Addictive Behaviors, among others. He also is co-author of several books, including “Substance Abuse Treatment and the Stages of Change.”

A member of the APA, Connors is a fellow of the APA’s Society of Clinical Psychology and Society of Addiction Psychology. He also is a member of the Research Society on Alcoholism, the College on Problems of Drug Dependence and the Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies.

RIA is a research center of the University at Buffalo and a national leader in the study of alcohol and substance abuse issues. RIA’s research programs, most of which have multiple year funding, are supported by federal and private foundation grants. Located on UB’s Downtown Campus, RIA is a member of the dynamic Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus and helps promote UB’s strategic focus on research initiatives.  

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