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University at Buffalo names new director of Research Institute on Addictions

November 9, 2011
by News release
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Buffalo, N.Y. — The University at Buffalo has named research scientist Kenneth E. Leonard, PhD, director of its Research Institute on Addictions (RIA). Leonard succeeds Gerard J. Connors, PhD, who decided to step down from the post to return to a full-time role as a RIA research scientist.

Leonard's appointment is effective Dec. 1.

"During the past 13 years, Dr. Connors has made invaluable contributions to the Research Institute on Addictions as its director and as a prominent researcher in the field of alcoholism," said UB Interim Provost Harvey G. Stenger, Jr. "Both UB and RIA have benefited greatly from his outstanding record of service; the university is grateful for his exemplary leadership.

"We congratulate Dr. Leonard as he assumes leadership of the RIA. He brings to the position excellent research and educational credentials, and we look forward to RIA's continued research excellence and sustained collaborations as a member of the UB community."

Connors will continue to conduct research at RIA that addresses the use of mindfulness-based stress reduction in alcoholism treatment, interpersonal stress as a factor in alcohol relapse and the role of therapeutic alliance as a mechanism of change in alcoholism treatment.

His research activities are funded by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA). He also serves as co-training director of RIA's NIAAA-funded postdoctoral training program on alcohol etiology and treatment.

Leonard currently serves as vice chair for research, director of the Division of Psychology and research professor, all in the Department of Psychiatry in the UB School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences. He has been a research scientist at the RIA since 1986. In addition, he is
research associate professor in the Department of Psychology in the UB College of Arts and Sciences.

"It is a privilege and honor to have been appointed director of the Research Institute on Addictions," Leonard said. "RIA is an internationally renowned research center that, since joining UB in 1999, has brought more than $100 million to Western New York in competitive grants from the prestigious National Institutes of Health.

"Through these grants, RIA has made major contributions to our understanding of the development, consequences and treatment of alcohol and substance abuse, and other addictive behaviors. I look forward to working with the outstanding scientists and staff at RIA, and with the UB faculty and administration, to continue our progress in achieving the research and educational mission of the RIA."

Leonard is an expert in marital and family processes, parenting and infant development, interpersonal aggression and bar and domestic violence. He studies the prevalence and predictors of alcohol-related violence among young adults between the ages of 18 and 30 in collaboration with researchers in the UB School of Public Health and Health Professions. He also is examining drinking problems and alcohol-related problems in young couples from the time they apply for a marriage license up to their ninth wedding anniversary.

Leonard's research has earned more than $16 million in funding, primarily from the NIAAA, since the 1980s. He is the recipient of numerous awards and honors, including a MERIT award from the NIAAA. He was named a fellow in and served as president of the American Psychological Association's Division of Addictions, as well as being named a fellow in the APA's Division of
Psychopharmacology and Substance Abuse. He was named to the Scientific Advisory Council of the Pacific Institute for Research and Education, Prevention Research Center, and the Scientific Advisory Board for the Center for Drug Abuse Research Translation Center at the University of
Kentucky.

Leonard's teaching and scholarship at UB have been consistently recognized: He twice has been honored with awards from the Resident Training Program in Psychiatry; has received the SUNY Research Foundation Research and Scholarship Award; the Josie Olympia Faculty of
the Year Award in Psychiatry; and the Murray A. Morphy M.D. Mentor of the Year award in Psychiatry.

He earned doctoral and master's degrees in clinical psychology from Kent State University.

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