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Peter Boris Centre for Addictions Research

The Peter Boris Centre for Addictions Research conducts state-of-the-art research on addictive disorders. These disorders are broadly defined, including alcoholism, nicotine dependence, and other substance use disorders, but also problem gambling and compulsive eating. Using a translational framework, the Centre has four principal foci: 1) behavioral research investigating in vivo determinants of addictive behavior; 2) neuroimaging research investigating the neural determinants of addiction-related motivation); 3) clinical research investigating novel treatments, predictors of treatment response, and mechanisms of action; and 4) genetic research investigating the role of genetic variation in behavioral performance, neural activity, and clinical outcomes. Studies typically integrate the preceding domains, with the goal of conducting controlled experimental research that nonetheless addresses important clinical questions. Similarly, the Centre has partnered with clinical programs at St. Joseph’s Healthcare Hamilton, McMaster University, and Homewood Health Centre to develop research systems that mutually enhance both research and clinical care.


  • Application of behavioral economics and neuroeconomics to addictive behavior
  • Impulsivity and mindfulness as determinants of addictive disorders
  • Understanding genetic influences on addiction via intermediate phenotypes/endophenotypes
  • Alcoholism pharmacotherapy development and mechanism characterization
  • Roles of adversity and stress in addictive disorders
  • Social network influences on addictive behavior
  • Assessment and role of craving in addictive disorders
  • Non-drug addictive disorders (e.g., problem gambling, compulsive eating/‘food addiction,’ compulsive Internet gaming)

Application to Consumer

  • Elucidation of the causes of addictive behavior, from across the lifespan to the moment of choice
  • Development of novel tools to improve the assessment of addictive disorders
  • Identification of novel methods to predict success or failure in treatment
  • Development of novel treatment strategies
  • Clarification of treatment mechanisms toward optimizing care
  • Application of basic behavioral science to tobacco tax policy

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