Dramatic scientific advances over the past two decades have revolutionized our understanding of alcohol and drug abuse. Foremost among these developments is the clear understanding that alcohol and drug addictions are treatable diseases of the brain.
The Waggoner Center for Alcohol and Addiction Research was created to research these neurological disorders. Established in 1999 as an organized research unit of the College of Natural Sciences at The University of Texas at Austin, the Center was made possible by a donation from M. June and J. Virgil Waggoner and matching university funds.
The Center is strongly committed to training future scientists. In addition to developing undergraduate and graduate courses in addiction biology, UT Austin has designated endowment funds to support graduate students in this research field.
Impact on Society
Alcoholism creates and perpetuates enormous human suffering and is caused by both environmental and genetic factors. The effects are felt by everyone in our society. Economic losses due to alcoholism and alcohol abuse is greater than that caused by cancer, AIDS, or heart disease. Lost productivity, the burden on the health care system, and other factors are
estimated to cost $185 billion annually, and the emotional stress on family members and friends of the afflicted is incalculable. Alcohol and other drug use have been implicated as factors in this country's most serious and expensive problems, including family violence and HIV/AIDS.
Federal support for research on alcoholism is the lowest for any major public health problem. Research in this field has the potential to impact the lives of approximately 18 million alcoholics, alcohol abusers, and their family members - an estimated 126 million Americans.
Leaders in Research
Investigators at the Waggoner Center for Alcohol and Addiction Research provide wide-ranging academic approaches to alcohol and addiction research. These research directives
include studies of neural plasticity, molecular actions of alcohols and anesthetics, gene expression, and addictive behaviors.
Dr. R. Adron Harris, director of the Center, holds the M. June and J. Virgil Waggoner Chair in the Institute of Cellular and Molecular Biology. Dr. Harris is author or co-author of more than 350 papers on the molecular biology of alcohol and the human nervous system. He is the recipient of the 1989 MERIT Award from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, the 1999 Outstanding Reseacher of the Year Award from the Research Society on Alcoholism, and the 2004 Jellinek Memorial Award, an international prize given each year to the scientist who has made the greatest contribution to the understanding of alcoholism as a disease.