Major Milestones

The history of the Institute for Drug and Alcohol Studies is one of continued development and expansion of a multidisciplinary approach to the study of the causes, prevention and treatment of substance abuse. Over time, the research program has evolved to include a wide array of topics (both basic and applied), research on a growing number of different substances and a diverse group of faculty from across the university. Some of the major milestones in the history of IDAS are presented below.

  • 1988Based on an initiative by the governor to identify Centers of Excellence in Virginia universities, VCU is selected as home of a five-year Commonwealth of Virginia Center on Drug Abuse Research under the direction of William L. Dewey, Ph.D. The center focuses primarily on biomedical areas.
  • 1993 The Center for Drug and Alcohol Studies is established. The center later evolves into the Institute for Drug and Alcohol Studies.
  • 1995VCU becomes the national coordinating center for the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration's regional training centers. Today, the Mid-Atlantic Addiction Technology Transfer Center falls under the direction of Paula Horvatich, Ph.D.
  • 1997 The center receives base funding from VCU and becomes one of nine institutes established to facilitate multidisciplinary research, drawing on faculty from throughout the university. It is renamed the Institute for Drug and Alcohol Studies.
  • 1998 Institute Director Robert L. Balster, Ph.D., is named the Editor-in-Chief for one of the leading scientific journals for addiction research, Drug and Alcohol Dependence. The main editorial office for the journal moves to VCU.
  • 1999For the first year, core Institute faculty achieve more than $10 million in grant support for their research. This includes support for basic research in the pharmacology and neurobiology of addictive drugs, behavioral research on vulnerability to addictive diseases and research on drug treatment, especially of pregnant women with substance abuse problems.
  • 2002Through funding provided by the Virginia Tobacco Settlement Foundation, IDAS establishes the Virginia Youth Tobacco Project to conduct and coordinate a multi-university research effort addressing the causes and prevention of youth tobacco use.
  • 2003The Institute hires the first executive director of IDAS, J. Randy Koch, Ph.D., who brings 20-plus years of professional experience in behavioral health research and research administration to the Institute.The Institute recruits a full-time business manager, Stephanie L. Hart, MBA., CRA. This position provides the Institute with the capacity to support faculty in grants preparation and management, and helps the institute develop a long-range plan for ensuring its financial stability and growth.
  • 2007The Institute graduates its first group of Fellows from the VCU Humphrey Fellowship Program in Substance Abuse Prevention, Treatment and Policy. Funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse and the U.S. State Department, and administered by the International Institute on Education, this program brings mid-career professionals from developing countries to the U.S. for a year of study and related professional experiences.
  • 2009 The Institute offers an International Programme in Addiction Studies (IPAS). This is a unique online programme leading to a degree of Master of Science in Addiction Studies. It is jointly offered by the University of Adelaide, King's College London and the Virginia Commonwealth University. Full-time (12-month) and part-time (24-month) programme options are availabe. Partial scholarships are being offered through the International Scholars in Addiction Studies (ISAS) programme.
  • 2010 The Institute graduates its first class of students from the International Programme in Addiction Studies.