Rutgers Center of Alcohol Studies

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For all the years of its existence, the Rutgers Center of Alcohol Studies (initially founded in 1940 as the Yale Center in New Haven, Connecticut) has been centrally involved in generating significant research findings on alcohol, alcoholics, and alcoholism. Through those same years, the center's mission has also included education, service, and information dissemination to the university community of which it was a part, the nation, and the world.

The Center of Alcohol Studies was founded at Yale University by Professor E. M. Jellinek; it was developed from the well-known Yale Laboratory of Applied Physiology, directed by Professor Howard W. Haggard, which first began to study the physiology of alcohol (ethanol) in the 1930s. In recognition of the paucity of scientific journals publishing work on alcohol and alcoholism then, faculty at the center founded The Quarterly Journal of Studies on Alcohol in 1940. The journal's first issue was edited by Professor Haggard; shortly thereafter, Mark Keller, a longtime editor of the Quarterly Journal, became the journal's managing editor. Keller served as editor of what is now the Journal of Studies on Alcohol for more than thirty years as a faculty member of the Center of Alcohol Studies at both Yale and Rutgers, and also became a very substantial figure in the alcohol field by virtue both of his position and his many carefully wrought, penetrating, insightful talks and articles on a wide range of alcohol-related subjects.

Recognizing the absence at the time of methods and agencies for the dissemination of the practical results of research on and experience with alcohol problems, the faculty of the center founded the Summer School of Alcohol Studies (SSAS) in 1943. It was then and continues today to be oriented toward meeting the needs of persons who work directly with the problems of alcohol use and alcoholism. The SSAS attracts students from around the world for its one- and three-week residential summer programs.

The pressing informational needs of the infant field of alcohol studies led to the development of the library of the Center of Alcohol Studies, which now possesses the most complete special collection on alcohol and alcoholism in the world, along with a complete collection of journals and books on alcohol and related subjects. The research library now maintains a collection of more than 100,000 materials. The Classified Abstract Archive of the Alcohol Literature contains about 20,000 abstracts of scientific work from a wide range of disciplines cross-indexed in depth up to 1976; the McCarthy Collection of original scientific papers; the Ralph G. Connor Collection of Alcohol-Related Research Instruments; and several extensive, continuously updated bibliographic series. The library's users include students, educators, and health service professionals.

Faculty at the Yale Center of Alcohol Studies initiated the first research program on treatment, as well as the Yale Plan on Alcoholism for Industrya forerunner of modern Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs). Center faculty also founded the first State Commission on Alcoholism. The research faculty at the center has continued to grow. By the mid-1990s, it comprised a substantial number of biochemists and physiologists, sociologists and psychologists, epidemiologists and preventionistsall engaged in studying an array of topics from etiology and physiology to prevention and treatment, with relevance to alcohol, alcoholics, and alcoholism.

In December 1994, Rutgers University approved a proposal by the Center to create the Rutgers Center of Alcohol Studies Faculty Practice Plan. This program provides assessment, intervention, and referral services to alcohol abusers who need help. The Center also offers the Drinkers Risk Reduction Program (DRRP), which was created for individuals concerned with their own drinking or the drinking of a loved one. DRRP employs both an assessment and intervention program, including a comprehensive interview, self-change program, self-control training, and a referral service.

The Center for Alcohol Studies' Basic Sciences Division conducts research on a number of projects, from alcohol and stress to the study of the effects of acute intoxication on people. The Clinical Research Division explores addiction assessment and research. The Education and Training Division conducts numerous one-day seminars throughout the academic year. Seminar topics not only include all aspects of alcohol and alcohol abuse, but also touch upon such subjects as gambling, HIV and AIDS, and tobacco.

In 1962, the Center of Alcohol Studies moved to Rutgers University, New Brunswick, New Jersey, into a building funded in part by a generous gift from R. Brinkley Smithers. From that time until he retired from Rutgers in 1975, Professor Seldon Bacon headed the Center of Alcohol Studies. A distinguished sociologist who had joined the center's faculty shortly after it was founded at Yale, Bacon played a key role for several decades in many of the most important developments in alcoholism nationally. At the Center of Alcohol Studies, he was instrumental in expanding the Yale Plan, developing the Summer School of Alcohol Studies, and nurturing the social-science research base that continues to be one of the center's major contributions.

In 1985, Smithers gave the center another extremely generous gift, permitting it to add to its building as well as to establish a prevention center and an annual prevention symposium.

(See also: Addiction Research Foundation of Ontario (Canada) ; U.S. Government Agencies )


Mendelson, J.H.&Mello N. K. (1989). Studies of alcohol: Past, present, and future. Journal of Studies on Alcohol, 50, 293-296.

Nathan, P. E. (1989). The Center of Alcohol Studies and the Journal of Studies on Alcohol : Celebrating 50 years. Journal of Studies on Alcohol, 50, 297-300.

Nathan, P. E. (1987). Reports from the research centresRutgers: The Center of Alcohol Studies. Journal of Addiction, 82, 833-840.

Straus, R. (1993). In memoriam : Selden D. Bacon. Journal of Studies on Alcohol, 54, 130-132.

Peter E. Nathan

Revised by Matthew Miskelly

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Rutgers Center of Alcohol Studies

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