Turning great ideas into healthier communities

Issue Areas


With more than 1,000 peer-reviewed studies, PHI’s highly regarded epidemiological research on substance abuse identifies gaps in knowledge and builds the evidence base for what works, both domestically and internationally.

PHI examines the role of gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation and socioeconomic status in drinking and drug use and evaluates treatment readiness and access. PHI works on tobacco addiction and policy approaches to reducing its spread. PHI also focuses on substance abuse-related concerns such as physical injury, violence and mental health problems and on improving interventions in primary care and treatment settings. Programs test new approaches, build capacity, provide technical assistance and train the next generation of investigators.

Supported by a diverse group of funders, PHI offers technical expertise on a broad range of substance abuse—including alcohol usage, as well as the connections to mental health issues.

Our expertise includes:

  • Research: PHI programs bring 50+ years of expertise in researching the economic and health impacts of alcohol, its connections to drug and tobacco use, and mental health problems in order to inform prevention and policy strategies.
  • Evaluation: Work with us to evaluate new approaches to prevention, treatment and recovery and disseminate what works.
  • Capacity Building: Our experts are already training the next generation of top-notch investigators in alcohol research, and can help design new programs to meet your target audiences and communities. We also are available to provide technical assistance to health care providers and institutions, policy makers, health departments and ministries, and community advocates working to reduce rates of alcohol, as well as drug abuse and smoking.
  • Advancing health equity: Our work helps to expose health disparities through research that reveals the role of gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation and socioeconomic status in drinking and drug and tobacco use as well as mental health status.


Resources and Tools

See more alcohol-related health resources, or browse all resources related to alcohol, tobacco, other drugs and mental health.


Cheryl Cherpitel

Cheryl J. Cherpitel, PhD, is a senior scientist at PHI's Alcohol Research Group and associate director of the National Alcohol Research Center....

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Won Kim Cook

Won Kim Cook, PhD, is an associate scientist at the Alcohol Research Group. She has a strong interest in immigrant alcohol use and other health iss...

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Thomas Greenfield

Tom Greenfield is scientific director of PHI's Alcohol Research Group (ARG). He also directs ARG's National Alcohol Research Center, which ...

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Katherine Karriker-Jaffe

Katherine Karriker-Jaffe, PhD, is a scientist at PHI's Alcohol Research Group. She examines how community and cultural determinants contribute ...

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William Kerr

William C. Kerr, PhD, is a senior scientist at the Alcohol Research Group (ARG). Since joining ARG in 2001, Kerr has pursued research in the ar...

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Camilla Lui

Camillia K. Lui, PhD, is an Associate Scientist at the Alcohol Research Group. Her research applies a life-course and intergenerational perspec...

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Amy Mericle

Amy Mericle, PhD, MSW, is an affiliate scientist to the Alcohol Research Group. A health services researcher, she focuses on highligh...

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Douglas Polcin

Douglas L. Polcin, EdD, MFT, is a Project Director at the Public Health Institute. His research and teaching interests include sober living houses,...

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Meenakshi Subbaraman

Meenakshi Sabina Subbaraman, PhD, is a Biostatistician and Co-Director of Statistical and Data Services at PHI's Alcohol Research Group. Her pr...

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Alcohol Research Group

Established in 1959, the Alcohol Research Group (ARG), a program of the Public Health Institute, conducts and disseminates research on the epidemio...

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Berkeley Media Studies Group

Berkeley Media Studies Group (BMSG) works with community groups, journalists and public health professionals to use the power of the media to advan...

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National Alcohol Research Center

The National Alcohol Research Center, which began in 1977, is housed within PHI's Alcohol Research Group and is funded by the National Ins...

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Survey Research Group

The Survey Research Group (SRG) conducts population based health-related surveys, using one of the country's most technologically advanced call...

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Here's How We're Making a Difference

Advancing 50+ Years of Research with PHI's Alcohol Research Group

Founded over fifty years ago, PHI's Alcohol Research Group (ARG) is a multidisciplinary research center whose focus is to conduct research on alcohol use patterns and associated problems and dissemination of research findings. Their research team is comprised of epidemiologists, psychologists, economists and researchers in other disciplines.

In 2015, ARG published nearly 50 research articles, including one study that found privatization of liquor sales in Washington state resulted in substantially higher prices to consumers on average. ARG's Alcohol Research Center was also redesignated as a PAHO/WHO Collaborating Center on Alcohol Epidemiology and Injury through September 2019. 

Assessing Familial Risk for Alcohol Use Disorders

Is it possible to identify clinical and historical features of Alcohol Use Disorder that reflect familial risk? Using longitudinal population data from Sweden, PHI’s Alcohol Research Group collaborated with researchers from across the world to assess the effects of alcohol exposure to risk factors in the neighborhood environment, peer context and family system. Within the sample, they found a number of factors which strongly predicted the risk for Alcohol Use Disorder in relatives: age at first registration, number of registrations, recurrence and history of drug abuse.

Training the Next Generation of Alcohol Researchers

In collaboration with UC Berkeley’s School of Public Health, the National Alcohol Research Center at PHI’s Alcohol Research Group accepts 6-8 trainees annually to the Graduate Research Training on Alcohol Problems program.

With a diverse, multidisciplinary training faculty, the program trains the next generation of researchers in cutting-edge methods for studying the social epidemiology of alcohol and other drug problems, and related health services. Since its inception in 1971, hundreds of former participants have moved on to help advance the field through careers in academia, government and free-standing research institutes.