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$8 Million Donated To Launch Center on Addiction

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The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation last week donated $8 million to launch a center for the study of substance abuse.

The new Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse, to be based at Columbia University in New York City, will be headed by Joseph A. Califano Jr., who served as U.S. Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare during the Carter Administration.

Dr. Herbert D. Kleber, a professor of psychiatry at Columbia University and a former deputy director for demand reduction in the federal Office of National Drug Control Policy, will be the center's executive vice president and medical director.

"Universities have an obligation to help address the central problems of our time,'' said Michael I. Sovern, the president of Columbia University, in a written statement. "Addiction and substance abuse are very high on that list.''

The foundation's gift to the center is the largest grant it has made to a single institution in its 20-year history. The award will be supplemented by funding from other foundations and corporations.

"One of our major goals is to help the nation come to grips with the harm done by illegal drugs, alcohol, and cigarettes,'' said Dr. Steven A. Schroeder, the foundation's president, in an interview last week. "It's been our observation that this is the number-one health problem in the United States and inadequate attention has been devoted to it.''

The center's organizers say its primary focus will be to examine both successes and failures in substance-abuse policies and programs.

The center will use a multidisciplinary approach, bringing together experts from medicine, law enforcement, business, law, economics, communications, education, social work, and religion.

The center has plans to conduct a demonstration project aimed at stemming drug abuse among at-risk 11- to 13-year-olds. It will be administered by the center's senior vice president, William J. Grinker, the former head of New York City's human-resources administration.

The center also will train teachers and other school professionals to identify the symptoms of substance abuse in students and to know where to refer them.

Dr. Schroeder said he hopes that the decision to locate the center at a major university will encourage more academics to study substance abuse. Housing the center at a university gives the field more "intellectual respect'' and brings it into the mainstream of national policy, he said.

"Many of our most prestigious academic institutions are located in areas that are ravaged by the problems of drugs, and often their students have serious alcohol and drug problems,'' he noted. "Yet, if you looked at the curriculum, the research, the national contribution to the debate from these academic centers, they are minuscule.''

Other Donors

The Annie E. Casey, Ford, Robert Wood Johnson, and Rockefeller foundations and the Pew Charitable Trusts have collectively contributed $5 million to the center for programs that involve both poverty and substance abuse.

The center also received planning grants from the Carnegie Corporation of New York, the Commonwealth Fund, the Northrop Corporation, and the Charles A. Dana, Ford, Henry J. Kaiser Family, and Rockefeller foundations.

Additional financial support for the project will provided by Automatic Data Processing, Chase Manhattan Bank, Chemical Bank, Reliance Group Holdings, Safeway Stores, Warnaco, the Coca-Cola, Walt Disney, and Ford Motor companies, and the Chrysler, K-Mart, Mobil, NYNEX, and Primerica corporations.

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