The Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility Establishes Endowed Chair at Harvard

The Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility (Responsibility.org) has committed $3.3 million to create an endowed chair at Cambridge Health Alliance and Harvard Medical School.

The announcement was made public yesterday.

The first incumbent to the Morris E. Chafetz Professorship will be Howard J. Shaffer, Ph.D., C.A.S., presently an associate professor at Harvard Medical School and director of the Division on Addiction at Cambridge Health Alliance, a Harvard Medical School teaching affiliate.

The professorship is named after someone whose work helped define modern views of alcohol addiction.

“Dr. Chafetz was a renowned pioneer in the field of alcohol abuse,” said Ralph Blackman, president and CEO of the Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility. “He recognized the importance of encouraging responsible drinking and believed in collaborating with all stakeholders involved with issues concerning alcohol. We are excited about the opportunity to continue Dr. Chafetz’s life’s work.”

Dr. Chafetz completed his residency in psychiatry at Massachusetts General Hospital, a Harvard Medical School affiliate, in 1954. He was the first director of the National Institute for Alcoholism and Alcohol Abuse (NIAAA) in 1970 and gained national recognition as a member of the National Commission Against Drunk Driving. He served as President Ronald Reagan’s presidential appointee at The White House Conference on Drug Free America.

Dr. Chafetz established a progressive alcoholism clinic at Massachusetts General Hospital in the 1950s. His early clinical experiences convinced him that alcoholism was not a crime or a personal failing but rather a disease requiring treatment.

These views, highly controversial at the time, were expounded in numerous articles and peer-reviewed journals, in books that were authored or co-authored by Dr. Chafetz, and in testimony before Congress and state legislatures.

The first incumbent to the professorship, Dr. Shaffer, has served as principal or co-principal investigator on a variety of government and foundation sponsored research projects. He has focused on investigative and educational activities associated with the public health features of Internet gambling and the epidemiology of psychiatric co-morbidity among multiple DUI offenders.

“We congratulate Howard J. Schaffer as the first incumbent to the Morris E. Chafetz Professorship,” said Jon Pageler, SVP Corporate Communications, Diageo North America. “As a member of the Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility, Diageo is proud to be part of an organization that has contributed to record declines in drunk driving and underage drinking, and is committed to guiding a lifetime of conversations around alcohol responsibility.

“FAAR has been working closely with the Cambridge Health Alliance and Harvard Medical School for some time now, and the creation of this Professorship strengthens these efforts and expands the academic study of responsible alcohol consumption in perpetuity,” Pageler added.

Over the past four years, with multi-year support from the Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility, Dr. Shaffer and his colleagues at the Division of Addiction have begun work to develop and test a computerized clinical report generator tool, the Computerized Assessment and Referral System (CARS), for use in DUI intervention and treatment settings.

CARS will package a powerful mental health assessment tool, the Composite International Diagnostic Interview (CIDI: Kessler & Ustun, 2004) with a user-friendly interface, increased flexibility, and immediate personalized output, to create a tool that can be used easily by DUI facility staff to screen DUI offenders and target interventions to address comorbid mental health issues.

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