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

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 history of the journal.

5 various covers of  Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs
Cover art of the various journal issues

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 facility for the treatment of alcoholism. The Yale Plan for Business and Industry, the 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. 

The Center of Alcohol Studies was a leader in 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.

In 1962, the Center moved to Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey. 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.

sketch of Center of Alcohol Studies when it was at Yale
Architect's sketch of Smithers Hall


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.

photo of Smithers Hall that housed the Center of Alcohol Studies
Smithers Hall Today


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. In 2019, the Center of Alcohol Studies was renamed Center of Alcohol & Substance Use Studies to reflect its broader mission.