Turning great ideas into healthier communities

Thomas Greenfield, PhD

Center Director

Tom Greenfield is scientific director of the Alcohol Research Group (ARG), in the Public Health Institute, Emeryville, CA, with ARG involving about 15 NIH-funded scientists. His most recent NIAAA grants have been on alcohol's harms to others in US adults (recently completed, in collaboration with Dr. Kate Karriker-Jaffe) and a multinational equivalent (ongoing with Professors Sharon Wilsnack and Kim Bloomfield as multiple PIs). These projects emphasize the relevance of alcohol’s secondhand effects for alcohol policy.

After earlier work on mental health and services research, Tom's career has been largely built on alcohol epidemiology and policy studies. He directed the NIAAA-supported Center on the Epidemiology of Alcohol Problems for 15 years from 1999 to 2015 and continues to codirect its National Alcohol Surveys, again with Dr. Karriker-Jaffe.

Over his career, Tom has led numerous federal grants, including topics such as an RCT comparing outcomes of a consumer-staffed alternative to hospitalization for people with serious mental illness in psychiatric crises; alcohol and mortality (two R01s); cross-national comparisons of US and Mexican drinking patterns and problems; risk of HIV infection in Goa India. He also led a study to improve self-reported alcohol consumption measures using prospective diaries and transdermal alcohol sensors and continue to study drinking patterns involving high intensity drinking. From these and other research projects, he has published over 230 peer-reviewed articles as well as contributing numerous monographs and chapters.

Tom came to this country to study astronomy (Caltech BS, Hons) and space/planetary science (MIT SM), but then switched to clinical psychology (University of Michigan, PhD). He recently has been giving back to Caltech as a member of the Chair's Council in the Division of Geological & Planetary Sciences, and believes that epidemiology and astronomy are both observational sciences at root; both are pushed forward by advances in measurement; each develops and tests theory and, increasingly, undertakes dynamic simulations calibrated to real data. Tom and Bill Kerr (ARG Sub-PI) are co-investigators on one such simulation-calibration project on alcohol with international colleagues led by researchers at the University of Sheffield, UK.

In 2016, Tom was honored to receive the American public Health Association Alcohol, Tobacco & Other Drug Section’s Lifetime Achievement Award, and in June, 2019 he was co-winner of the Jellinek Memorial Award for Alcohol Studies.

Alcohol’s Harms to Others among US Adults: Individual and Contextual Effects

Project aims were to (1) estimate rates, sources and severity of alcohol’s harms to others (AHTO); test hypotheses about gender and other differences in AHTO; (2) examine environmental influences (e.g., urbanicity, disadvantage, alcohol access) to gain insight about preventing such harms; and (3) use study the roles of state alcohol policies (like taxes and availability) and investigate the interplay of influences on events, sources and severity of US harms. MPI: Thomas K. Greenfield and Katherine Karriker-Jaffe

National Alcohol Survey (NAS) Resource Core

The NAS conducts periodic surveys of alcohol use by US adults. Recent design refinements in the 2019-20 NAS include address-based sampling and recruitment to an online survey. It also include large African American and Hispanic oversamples. The team prepares analytic datasets that include geo-referenced contextual data drawn from census and other archival sources. The NAS has been conducted since the mid-1960s. Co-directors: Katherine Karriker-Jaffe, PhD and Thomas K. Greenfield, PhD

State Parity Laws May Explain Why Federal Policy Aimed at Increasing Access to Alcohol Treatment Services Shows Modest Effect (2019)

In the US, approximately 16 million people have an alcohol use disorder and heavy drinking is a leading cause of preventable death. However, a...

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The Relationship Between the U.S. State Alcohol Policy Environment and Individuals’ Experience of Secondhand Effects (2019)

Alcohol Harms Due to Others’ Drinking   Background Although restrictive state alcohol policy environments are protective for...

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Trends in Alcohol’s Harms to Others (AHTO) and Co-occurrence of Family-Related AHTO: The Four US National Alcohol Surveys, 2000–2015 (2015)

PHI Alcohol Research Group researchers Thomas K. Greenfield, Katherine Karriker-Jaffe, Lauren Kaplan and William C. Kerr, along with Sharon C. Wils...

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Study Links Alcohol to Cancer Deaths (2013)

A new study finds that even moderate alcohol consumption can increase the risk of cancer-related death. We'll hear from one of the study's ...

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The Blurring of Alcohol Categories (2013)

Consumers often don't know how much alcohol is in their drink because beer and wine makers have been upping the amount of alcohol in ...

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 PHI programs bring 50+ years of expertise in researching the economic and health impacts of alcohol in order to inform prevention and policy ...

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PHI offers a full suite of evaluation services—from first design to analysis—to assess what’s working, identify needs for quality...

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Population Health

Access to high-quality, affordable health care is critical. Yet health is also heavily determined by factors outside the doctor’s office, fro...

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Research - Surveillance

Understanding emerging and existing health threats begins with good data.PHI leads efforts in collecting, analysing and interpreting public health ...

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Research - Survey

The Public Health Institute believes in fostering health and well-being through rigorous quantitative and qualitative research, guided by the princ...

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