New addiction research and policy center established at Yale

The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University (CASAColumbia), a leading national organization whose mission is to educate the public and improve the prevention and treatment of addiction, has partnered with Yale School of Medicine and Yale School of Public Health to form a new addiction research and policy center based in New Haven. The Yale–CASA center-of-excellence will expand critically important work to shape public policy, disseminate evidence-based practices, and educate families, providers, and policymakers. 

A significant financial commitment from CASAColumbia will support five new and existing faculty positions in psychiatry, public health, and other areas of medicine with expertise in neuroscience, clinical trials, healthcare policy, and biostatistics. 

Founded in 1992 by former U.S. Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare Joseph A. Califano, Jr., CASAColumbia is a science-based, multidisciplinary organization focused on transforming society’s understanding of and response to the disease of addiction. For decades, Yale has been a leading source of basic, translational, and clinical research findings in almost every aspect of addiction. 

The Yale–CASA collaboration will be led by Samuel Ball, PhD, president and CEO of CASAColumbia, who is also a professor of psychiatry at Yale School of Medicine. 

"Globally, addiction is the most significant cause or contributor to cancer, AIDS, cardiovascular disease, respiratory illness, diabetes, accidents, violence, crime, and poverty," said Dr. Ball. "Addiction experts at Yale are uniquely positioned to provide the leadership that will shape research agendas, health care practice, and public policy. Yale–CASA and similar partnerships with premier academic institutions will improve our collective ability to reduce the stigma attached to the disease of addiction and improve the lives of those affected." 

Planned Yale–CASA initiatives include expansion of current work on behavioral addictions such as gambling and food, a university-wide pilot project program, and the evaluation of adolescent substance abuse treatment in collaboration with the APT Foundation and Yale Child Study Center. New faculty positions within the Yale School of Public Health and the Yale Center for Analytical Sciences will establish an addiction data analytic and policy research program that is particularly focused on healthcare reform related to mental health and addiction services. 

"The Yale–CASA center-of-excellence is an incredibly exciting initiative," said Paul Cleary, PhD, dean of Yale’s School of Public Health. "There are extremely impressive faculty and research activities in psychiatry and public health at Yale, and tremendous strengths in basic, translational, clinical, and community-based participatory research. Having a center that can facilitate interactions and identify synergies could lead to even stronger research programs with the potential of much greater impact." 

Two key scientific leaders for the Yale–CASA initiative include Marc Potenza, MD, PhD who leads research on addictive disorders and behavior involving gambling, sex, and internet; and Carlos Grilo, PhD who leads research on binge eating disorder, food addiction, and obesity. Potenza is professor of psychiatry, in the Child Study Center, and of neurobiology at Yale. Grilo is professor of psychiatry and of psychology at Yale. 

"Yale–CASA will enable exciting new collaborations between the cutting-edge addiction research that occurs at Yale and the trailblazing work on advocacy and addiction policy advanced by CASAColumbia," said John Krystal, MD, chair of psychiatry at Yale School of Medicine. "The problem of addiction is bigger than any single institution and I am pleased that CASA is strengthening its collaborations with academic partners including Yale, Columbia, New York University, Northshore–LIJ Health Systems, and City University of New York."

This article was submitted by Shane Seger on June 15, 2015.