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The Center of Alcohol Studies is the first interdisciplinary research center devoted to alcohol use and alcohol-related problems and treatment. Evolving in the late 1930s and 1940s at the Yale University Laboratory of Applied Physiology and Biodynamics, which was directed by Yale physician Howard W. Haggard, the Section on Alcohol Studies, headed by E.M. Jellinek, pursued studies of the effects of alcohol on the body, which broadened into a wide perspective of alcohol-related problems.

The increasing demand for information about alcoholism led the Center to found the Summer School of Alcohol Studies in 1943. In 1944, the Center also began the Yale Plan Clinics, the first ever outpatient facilities for the treatment of alcoholism. The Yale Plan for Business and Industry, forerunner of current-day employee assistance programs, also began in the mid-1940s, in response to requests from business and industry having to cope with employment shortages during World War II. Another of Dr. Haggard’s contributions to the field was the founding of the Quarterly Journal of Studies on Alcohol in 1940. Today the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs remains a leading journal in the field and is among the most highly cited substance-abuse journals. Read more on

The Center of Alcohol Studies was the leader of the movement to recognize alcoholism as a major public health problem and to have the American Medical Association accept alcoholism as a treatable illness, a policy it formally adopted in the 1950s.

Sketch of Smithers Building

In 1962, the Center moved to Rutgers University. The Center is located on Busch Campus in Smithers Hall, built through the generosity of R. Brinkley Smithers and the Christopher D. Smithers Foundation. Smithers Hall provides offices, conference space, and laboratories for biological and psychological research. Brinkley and Adele Smithers Hall, an addition to the Center which opened in 1992, has expanded office space, laboratory space, and a new library facility.

Over the years, Center faculty have served as consultants and experts for many important organizations and meetings, including the World Health Organization, the National States’ Conference on Alcoholism, The Cooperative Commission on the Study of Alcoholism, and the National Council on Alcoholism Blue Ribbon Panels, and helped to develop the federal legislation that created the National Alcohol Research Center Program.

The Center continues its research tradition with research programs and pre- and postdoctoral training in clinical and experimental psychology, neuropharmacology, psychophysiology, sociology, public health, social work, and prevention.Smithers Building in 2015