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The Bowles Center for Alcohol Studies was founded in 1970 through the efforts of John A. Ewing, M.D., who served as its first director, and Senator Hargrove “Skipper” Bowles. Their vision and commitment, along with that of Representative Sam Johnson, led the Bowles Center and the state of North Carolina to the forefront of research into the causes of alcohol use disorder and the search for its prevention, better treatment, and cure.

Skipper Bowles realized the importance of alcohol abuse research and believed that this disease had its roots in the complex workings of the human brain and genetics. Time, research and financial support have shown that Bowles was right.

Dr. Fulton T. Crews assumed leadership of the BCAS in the fall of 1994. In December 1997, the BCAS received a 5-year National Institutes of Health (NIH) / National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA)-funded ARC Grant, the first to be awarded in North Carolina. The UNC-ARC Grant, under the leadership of Dr. Crews, has facilitated the operations and enhanced the stature of the BCAS, and dramatically increased scholarly and educational activities, collaboration, sharing and integration of state-of-the-art methods among investigators for more than 25 years.

In January 2023, Thomas Kash was named director of the BCAS. Kash also leads the most recent renewal of the ARC grant, which runs from 2022 to 2027.


Faculty Growth and Development

The BCAS has grown steadily over the years. BCAS faculty, staff and students increased from approximately 10 in 1995 to over 130 in 2024. Faculty members are recruited to the BCAS from within UNC and through new faculty recruitment.


Faculty Honors

Our faculty leadership have been recognized on numerous occasions for outstanding national and international achievements.

  • Dr. Thomas Kash won the White House US Presidential Early Career Award in 2011 and the Jacob Waletsky Memorial Award in 2019. He is an ACNP member since 2018.
  • Dr. A. Leslie Morrow held an NIAAA Merit Award from 2000-2011 and won the Bowles Award in 2015. She is an ACNP Fellow since 2017.
  • Dr. Fulton Crews won the RSA Distinguished Investigator Award in 2008, was an NIAAA Merit Awardee from 1998-2009, became an ACNP Fellow in 2016 and received the RSA Marlatt Mentorship Award in 2018.
  • Dr. Clyde Hodge currently holds an NIAAA Merit Award since 2013.
  • Dr. Christian Hendershot won the Canada Research Chair Award in 2020.


Growth of Research Activity

One metric of research activity is budget growth. The BCAS budget has grown from less than $1M in 1995 to over $10M in 2023. Most the BCAS funding comes from NIH grants and UNC endowment support for the BCAS.