The USC Institute for Addiction Science is the nation’s first university-wide transdisciplinary addiction science institute.
We aim to break down silos that have historically prevented scholars and practitioners from different disciplines from working together.
The USC IAS supports collaborative research and education that advances science, treatment, and policy to improve the lives of those touched by addiction.
A Complex Problem
Addiction is not a simple disease that will be cured by one miracle treatment. It is a complex problem caused by the intersection of genetics, neurochemical changes, trauma and stress, social injustices, commercial interests, ineffective treatments, and suboptimal public policies. To combat addiciton epidemics and their diverse causes, academic siloes that have historically separated addiction scholars from distinct disciplines must come down. Scholars from all areas of academia must come together to develop solutions.
To shift the paradigm of how academia approaches addiction, IAS pioneered an application of a non-traditional model in academia called the “matrixed unit.” IAS and other matrixed units do not operate as standalone academic departments or schools, which naturally divide scholars by discipline. Instead, IAS scholars hold dual complementary roles in the Institute and in their home department, which fosters cross-discipline interaction and overcomes traditional siloes inherent to academia. IAS provides the infrastructure and resources for transdisciplinary research, education, clinical services, and community engagement to reduce addiction.
A Collaborative Solution
IAS is a multi-school academic unit involving 80 faculty from 10 different schools across the university.
Why Addiction Science?
Our mission is motivated by the unfortunate truth that addiction is a wicked problem and leads to an array of recalcitrant epidemics that plague society. Cancer, cardiovascular disease, sexually transmitted infections, mental illness, violence, unplanned pregnancy, obesity, child abuse, poverty, unemployment, homelessness, and social inequities are each associated with addictive behaviors.
Given the interplay of societal, political, psychosocial, and biological influences on addiction, transdisciplinary approaches are needed to reduce the addiction epidemic. Faculty with addiction expertise are members of various academic units across USC. The Institute for Addiction Science integrates and mobilizes USC’s intellectual resources while leveraging the diverse and populous backdrop of Los Angles to yield evidence with local, state, national and global implications.
The Institute’s matrixed model integrates scholars from diverse fields to engage in colloaborative inter-disciplinary research, education, and service programs. This is achieved by a specalized infrastructure that: (1) empowers meaningful interconnection and synergy; (2) fosters incubation of creative ideas; and (3) translates ideas into action with real world impact. IAS supports seed funding for developmental formative research that provides proof of concept for risky ideas, specialized scientific facilities, and support services that improve research efficiency and quality, recruitment of faculty and students, cross-discipline training programs, diversity and inclusion initatives, and other opportunititic activities that actualize the Institute’s vision and mission.
Addiction problems are extremely complicated puzzles, which requires comprehensive and innovative solutions. The multidisciplinary nature of IAS is vital to generate such solutions. IAS provides an intellectual space where such solutions can be initiated, discussed, and tested to eradicate or at least substantially reduce disparities in addiction problems.
Olivia Lee, PhD
Co-Lead, IAS Priority Populations and Health Equity Research Program
USC Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work
USC Scholars working from very different perspectives are contributing to addiction science. Getting those researchers talking and collaborating can lead to breakthroughs. IAS provides a mechanism for doing this, and it has been amazingly effective. For me it has led to new close collaborations with scientists in Pharmacology and in Population & Public Health. The institute is growing and continuing to find new ways to facilitate the work of our members.
John Monterosso, PhD
IAS Mechanisms and Treatment Development Research Group
USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences
IAS brings together a large number of USC faculty across many different units with the common goal of advancing our understanding of alcohol and substance use disorders. From preclinical wetbench discovery to working in the community IAS is on board for advancing addiction science.
The benefits include large number of faculty that have large spectrum of addiction science expertise. Allows for critical discussions and collaborations that have a common goal of advancing human health as it relates to the terrible consequences of drug and alcohol addiction.
Daryl Davies, PhD
IAS Associate Director
USC School of Pharmacy
Addiction touches us all - every single one of us. Training in addition science from a human perspective - incorporating all different facets of addiction - is essential to helping address and solve the addiction crisis. This program gives students an opportunity to learn about addiction science from instructors in different departments and schools across the university, preparing them to incorporate their training in addiction science into whatever career they are in, or plan to go into.
Jessica Barrington-Trimis, PhD
IAS Training Consortium Co-Lead
USC Department of Population and Public Health Sciences
IAS has been an innovative effort to bring together a wide array of interdisciplinary researchers across USC. I am particularly excited about the many new initiatives. For instance, we have now integrated community based stakeholders into IAS activities that will serve to strengthen our commitment to translating our research to serve the needs of our community.
Alice Cepeda, PhD
IAS Community Engagement and Dissemination Committee Co-Lead
USC Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work