Nation’s Largest Foundation in Support of Alcoholism Research Establishes The Smithers Family Center for Alcohol and Substance Abuse at Columbia University

March 26, 2015

(New York, NY – March 26, 2015) -- The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) puts the cost of substance abuse at more than $700 billion per year in the United States, noting such consequences as crime, lost work productivity and other health issues. It has become more and more evident that a multi-faceted approach to treatment is needed to curb substance abuse.

To that end, the Smithers Fund for Alcoholism Prevention and Recovery, Inc. is partnering with Columbia University Medical Center to establish “The Smithers Family Center for Alcohol and Substance Abuse” in the Department of Psychiatry (Columbia Psychiatry), which will be located at 51 W. 51st Street. The gift of $7.1 million will provide endowed support for clinical care, education and research in alcohol and substance abuse treatment. The Smithers family’s philanthropic efforts to fight alcohol addiction span 60 years. A 1971 New York Times story about the family’s $10 million gift to Roosevelt Hospital noted that at the time, it was the “largest single grant ever made by any individual or agency, including the Federal Government, to fight alcoholism.”

Columbia Psychiatry, considered a leader in addiction research and treatment, is consistently ranked in the top tier of drug and alcohol programs in the US by US News and World Report’s issue on medical schools. The Smithers gift will expand current programs and help to start innovative projects that will generate further insights on addiction and propel the field forward to meet the needs of families burdened by substance abuse.

“The Smithers Fund for Alcoholism Prevention and Recovery, Inc., is dedicated to improving the lives of patients struggling with addiction,” said Christopher Smithers, President of the Christopher D. Smithers Foundation. “We have tremendous confidence in research and Columbia Psychiatry’s expertise in the field. Our hope is that this partnership will not only transform the lives of patients, but will also enhance care for individuals with substance abuse disorders who may or may not have co-occurring psychiatric disorders.”

“Substance abuse and addiction are highly prevalent and greatly underserved in our society, yet we know that treatment can change lives and recovery is possible,” said Jeffrey Lieberman, MD, Chairman of Columbia Psychiatry. “I am grateful to the Smithers Family for its generous and unwavering support for addiction research and education, and I look forward to the additional contributions that this partnership will yield to the affected individuals and our society.”

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About Columbia University Department of Psychiatry

Columbia Psychiatry is ranked among the best departments and psychiatric research facilities in the nation and has contributed greatly to the understanding and treatment of psychiatric disorders. It is home to distinguished clinicians and researchers noted for their clinical and research advances in the diagnosis and treatment of depression, suicide, schizophrenia, bipolar and anxiety disorders, eating disorders, and childhood psychiatric disorders. Visit for more information.

About the Christopher D. Smithers Foundation, Inc.

For over 60 years the Christopher D. Smithers Foundation, Inc. has concentrated its efforts on educating the public that alcoholism is a respectable, treatable disease from which people can and do recover; encouraging prevention programs and activities, with an emphasis on high risk populations; and continually fighting to reduce and eliminate the stigma that is associated with the disease of alcoholism. Visit for more information.


Departmental News, InPsych - March 2015, Press Releases, Special Events