Director's Column

Volume 22, Number 1, April 2011


 

photo of Fulton Crews, PhD
Dr. Fulton T. Crews
Director, Bowles Center for Alcohol Studies

   Declining financial support over the past several years and a discouraging outlook for the future requires the Bowles Center for Alcohol Studies to prepare and adjust to the ongoing loss of support. This requires reductions in staff and activities. One such loss is this publication. This will be the last Center Line.

The Center Line has been supported primarily by donations. Our donor base has been hurt by the financial crisis. Additional financial pressures come from the State of North Carolina and the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The State has reduced our budget every year for the past five years, and this year we are likely to receive the largest budget cuts in our history. The UNC School of Medicine is under considerable financial pressure and has appointed a committee to make recommendations on the difficult decision of which programs to cut. Further, the NIH has decided to dissolve the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA). NIAAA grants are the major source of funding for our Center. Federal budget issues will likely reduce the entire NIH budget as well. These changes require us to make difficult decisions to prepare for additional loss of support.

When I became Director of the Bowles Center in 1995, I re-started the Center Line, publishing four issues per year, with Leslie Morrow serving as editor for the past ten years. In addition, we have held the Carolina’s Conference on Addiction and Recovery in Chapel Hill, partnering with the Addiction Recovery Institute, for almost a decade. These outreach education activities will also unfortunately come to an end. The mission of the Bowles Center for Alcohol Studies is to conduct, coordinate and promote basic and clinical research on the causes, prevention and treatment of alcoholism and alcoholic disease. The Center will maintain our efforts, but the continuing loss of support and likely loss of future NIH funding require hard choices. We will reduce staff and non-essential activities but plan to continue updating our website with new articles on discoveries. I hope our readers will continue to follow our progress through this site (http://www.med.unc.edu/alcohol/).

The Bowles Center for Alcohol Studies is excited about Tom Kash, our new faculty member, and the NADIA initiative to understand the neurobiology of underage drinking. These exciting events are likely to improve our understanding of the neurobiology of addiction. Understanding this neurobiology will allow efforts to prevent and block the progression to addiction and to help those with chronic relapsing alcoholism stay abstinent. Our faculty are broadening their research to include Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and Depression, two mental diseases with significant co-morbidity and overlapping neurobiological mechanisms with alcoholism. This broadens our research base for funding while staying on mission. Although our financial future is uncertain, our research continues to make discoveries that will brighten the future for all. We are confident that we can adjust to the coming challenges and in time reduce addiction in our communities.