Addiction Center Research



Visit our publications page for the latest information on addiction research findings.

At U-M, our team is conducting more than two dozen studies sponsored by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the NIAAA, the NIDA, the Department of Defense (DOD), and the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).

The U-M Addiction Center conducts clinical and basic research that examines the biological underpinnings of substance use and substance use disorders. The U-M Addiction Center also studies the social and contextual factors that contribute to development, prevention, early intervention, treatment and the recovery of substance use disorders.

Ongoing research, supported by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), the Department of Defense, and the Department of Veterans Affairs, focuses in six areas:

  • Prevention and early intervention
  • Developmental psychopathology and genetics
  • Neuroimaging and neurophysiology
  • Intervention including treatment and recovery
  • Health services research
  • Relationship of sleep problems and/or chronic pain to the treatment of substance use disorders

Our faculty is invested in the long-term policy issues related to substance use disorders and related medical conditions. We come to work every day hoping to help better the lives of our patients and their families.

Research Collaborations

The Addiction Center and its faculty sustain ties with numerous organizations and operating structures within and outside the University of Michigan. Such relationships are essential to our ongoing mission; they allow the development of a scientific agenda that would not be possible without such collaborations, and they provide a set of clinical opportunities that enhance training activity and allow treatment evaluation studies to recruit patients as subjects. Foremost among these are: (a) U-M Addiction Treatment Services and (b) the VA Ann Arbor Healthcare System. A number of faculty hold appointments with both institutions. The VA Ann Arbor operates an outpatient Substance Use Disorders Clinic (SUDC) as well as a Substance Use Disorders Intensive Outpatient Program (SUD-IOP). The VA Ann Arbor is actively involved in clinical program research as well as several VA/DOD funded randomized clinical trials.

The U-M Addiction Center is also the administrative core for the Michigan Mental Health Integration Partnership (MIP). The MIP in collaboration with the University of Michigan and Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS), aims to address this unmet need by implementing and evaluating innovative programs to improve the lives of Michigan residents. 

In addition to these relationships, the Addiction Center has ongoing research and/or clinical collaborations/projects with a large number of departments and centers at University of Michigan. These relationships establish connections with entities both within the UM Medical School/Health System as well as outside of it, including long-standing collaborations with Michigan State University, the University of Arkansas Medical Center, the Oregon Health & Science University, and the University of Idaho.

Research Sponsors

U-M Addiction Center grant funding is typically over eight million dollars annually. Not included in this annual eight million dollars are many of the Addiction Center faculty’s funded research projects that are funded by the Department of Veterans Affairs and are conducted at the Ann Arbor Veterans Affairs Medical Center.

The Department of Psychiatry sustains the infrastructure of the Addiction Center as a vital part of the Program’s operations. This includes provision of space and an administrative and grants management staff.

Numerous sponsoring and collaborating institutions make the research at University of Michigan Addiction Center possible such as:

  • Department of Defense (DOD)
  • Department of Veterans Affairs (VA)
  • Internal university grants
  • National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA)
  • National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA)
  • National Institutes of Health (NIH) 
  • Private foundations

Clinical Research

  • U-M Addiction Treatment Services, the clinical branch of the U-M Addiction Center, provides clinical care, professional training, and  research in the area of substance use disorders. It operates within the Department of Psychiatry's Ambulatory Care Unit and is led by Director Mark A. Ilgen, Ph.D., Professor of Psychiatry.  
  • U-M Addiction Treatment Services provides a balance of treatment modalities, levels of care, and case mix. Treatment services include Intake and Assessment, an Intensive Outpatient Program (including outpatient detoxification services), and regular outpatient services for both adolescents and adults (individual, group, and family therapies).
  • A number of U-M Addiction Center Faculty have joint appointments with Ann Arbor Veterans Affairs Medical Center. They conduct training of psychiatry residents in substance use disorders, provide clinical services to VA patients, and serve as one of the program's research resources for recruitment of patients with substance use disorder diagnoses. 
  • The VA Ann Arbor provides clinical training rotations in substance use disorders as part of American Psychological Association -accredited psychology internship and postdoctoral fellow training programs, and an Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education -accredited fellowship program in addiction psychiatry.
  • The substance use disorders clinical services include empirically based approaches for addiction psychiatry and psychosocial interventions.

Research Locations

Rachel Upjohn Building

The offices of the U-M Addiction Center occupy two different locations at the University of Michigan. The Center's research space at the Rachel Upjohn Building on the East Ann Arbor Medical Campus is 5,220 square feet. At the Rachel Upjohn Building, the Addiction Center has office, meeting, library, archival, data collection, data management, and computational space. The U-M Addiction Center also has a number of conference rooms where scientific staff meetings take place. These meeting rooms also serve as interview and data collection offices. The Rachel Upjohn Building also houses a mock scanner for acclimating children to the fMRI environment.

North Campus Research Center

The North Campus Research Center (NCRC) is comprised of 28 buildings with 2.1 million square feet of office space and 174 acres of land. The NCRC houses several health research groups, encouraging the development of collaborative research relationships and projects. The facilities include state-of-the-art teleconferencing tools and equipment that allow for collaborative effort in shared workspaces. The space also includes offices for investigators and research support staff, and a number of conference rooms for meetings. The Center occupies 1,065 square feet at this location. This is a specially designed facility containing 10 offices and five carrels. 

The Addiction Center is a highly synergistic environment with opportunity for collaboration across all areas of psychiatry in several locations in southeast Michigan.

Research Focus

The Addiction Center's research efforts are focused in six major thematic areas that range from molecular genetics and computational neuroscience. Within these six areas, a number of projects, both full scale, and at the pilot level, are ongoing.

Each of the research themes is briefly described below, and a list of faculty involved is presented.

Prevention and Early Intervention

Research involving the conduct of randomized controlled trials to evaluate the efficacy of screening and early intervention protocols for adolescents and young adults for alcohol, other drugs, and violence, including family based interventions for at-risk children. Faculty: Barry, Blow, Bonar, Chermack, Cranford, Jester, Walton, Zucker

Developmental Psychopathology and Genetics

Including studies on the identification of genetic, neuropsychological, and psychosocial factors that contribute to alcoholism and other drug abuse across different segments of the life span. Other work in this area is focused on characterization of developmental course with a special interest in heterogenity of the addictive risk on phenotype. Faculty: Brower, Burmeister, Heitzeg, Hicks, and Zucker

Neuroimaging and Neurophysiology:

this program of research is carried out in collaboration with investigators from the UM Molecular and Behavioral Neurosciences Institute and the University's Functional MRI Laboratory. Current fMRI and PET studies are looking at the relationships of brain activation patterns to genetic risk and prior behavioral risk, relationships to neurocognitive functioning, and to substance use and abuse outcomes for nicotine, alcohol, and illicit drugs. Faculty: Brower, Heitzeg, Morrow, Zucker

Intervention Including Treatment and Recovery

involving course predictors, effectiveness, and medication development studies; these studies target patients with substance use disorders, tracking their course of illness during and following treatment interventions; naturalistic treatment outcome studies are used to identify biological, psychosocial, cultural, spiritual and ethnic factors that influence or protect against subsequent drug use and relapse; Biological factors of particular interest include genetic markers of the GABA and serotonin systems and sleep physiology. Faculty: Barry, Blow, Bonar, Brower, Ilgen, Walton, Zucker

Health Services Research

involving research on the health services outcomes of treatment and documentation of differences in clinical manifestations and course of different population subgroups. Faculty: Barry, Blow, Bonar, Ilgen, Walton, Zucker

Relationship of Sleep Problems and/or Chronic Pain to the Treatment of Substance Use Disorders

Involves studies of the 1) effects of sleep problems on course of alcoholism and relapse, 2) role of sleep disturbances in the etiology of substance use disorders, 3) characteristics of chronobiological variation in earlier life as predictors of later substance use and abuse and 4) interrelationships between pain, medications used to treat pain and substance use; 5) use of opioids and the prevention of adverse outcomes, e.g., overdose; and 5) development and testing of novel interventions to address co-occurring chronic pain and substance use disorders. Faculty: Brower, Conroy, Heitzeg, Ilgen, Zucker