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Responsibility.org Establishes Morris E. Chafetz Professorship In Psychiatry in the Field of Behavioral Sciences at Harvard Medical School

Today, we proudly announced our $3.3 million commitment to create an endowed chair at Cambridge Health Alliance and Harvard Medical School. 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.

“Dr. Chafetz was a renowned pioneer in the field of alcohol abuse. 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,” said Ralph Blackman, our president and CEO.

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.

Jeffrey S. Flier, MD, Dean of the Faculty of Medicine at Harvard Medical School, added, “The Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility has long been a strong supporter of the research program at Cambridge Health Alliance, particularly in the Department of Psychiatry.

“We are so pleased that Responsibility.org has decided to create this endowed professorship, which will forever support the best of our faculty in the field of behavioral sciences and honor a pioneer in the field of alcohol studies and the public’s perception of alcoholism.”

“The Chafetz family could not be more proud of the recognition this endowment brings to our father’s lifelong commitment to addressing the importance of individual decisions that are the bedrock of responsible consumption while at the same time continuing to learn and understand more about the nature of addiction,” said Adam Chafetz, one of Dr. Chafetz’s sons, on behalf of his family.

Dr. Shaffer brings great experience to the role of the first incumbent to the Morris E. Chafetz Professorship in Psychiatry in the Field of Behavioral Sciences. Dr. Shaffer has served as principal or co-principal investigator on a variety of government and foundation sponsored research projects. Dr. Shaffer 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.

Over the past four years, with multi-year support from our organization, 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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