KU Addiction Research and Treatment Center Celebrates First Year with Community Open House

LAWRENCE — The Cofrin Logan Center for Addiction Research and Treatment at the University of Kansas will welcome the public to celebrate the center’s first year of community programs, new research initiatives, and expanded staff and facilities during an open house reception from 3 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. Friday, Sept. 13.

The open house includes light refreshments, opportunities to meet students and staff, and tours of the center’s new alcohol administration laboratory. The center, a part of the KU Life Span Institute, is located at 3061 Dole Human Development Building, 1000 Sunnyside Ave. 

The Cofrin Logan Center brings together researchers, practitioners, KU students and community partners to address challenges in addiction. Researchers affiliated with the center explore a wide range of behavioral health challenges, while clinical staff members of the center deliver direct addiction treatment and therapy services to individuals in the community, as well as arts-based therapy programs.

One of the center’s strengths is that it brings research and treatment into dialogue with each other, said Richard Yi, director of the Cofrin Logan Center.

“One of the challenges in this field is that there’s a disconnect between research and practice,” Yi said. “It’s important to recognize that what works in one setting may not work in ‘the real world.’ Our experiences with members of university and local communities can inform interventions and help us conduct research that leads to evidence-based therapies.”

The center was established in 2018 following a gift to KU Endowment from KU alumnus Dan Logan (’75) and his wife, Gladys Cofrin. In addition to creating the center, the gift provided the resources to provide services and build community partnerships. For example, the center has partnered with the university’s Counseling and Psychological Services and hired a full-time clinical psychologist to focus on treatment of KU students dealing with issues of substance misuse. Arts-based programs in support of individuals in recovery from addiction are offered at the Bert Nash Community Mental Health Center and at First Step at Lakeview, DCCCA’s residential treatment facility in Lawrence. Free weekly addiction recovery support programs are offered at the Lawrence Public Library as well.

“I am particularly impressed with the way the center aims to merge cutting-edge research with the goal of supporting implementation of best practices into the community. It’s a daunting task, but in their first year they’ve already made tangible progress,” said Interim Provost Carl Lejuez, whose interaction with Cofrin and Logan helped launch the center.

Another strength of the center, Yi said, is the way it addresses addiction research. While there are researchers and graduate students at the center focused on a broad range of addiction research – including vaping, tobacco, alcohol and food – they are also trying to engage at-risk populations such as survivors of domestic violence, veterans, university students and members of traditionally medically underserved communities. 

Additionally, the center is also home to a laboratory that might not look like one. The alcohol administration laboratory, housed in the Cofrin Logan Center, has the appearance of a bar. Liquor bottles, emptied of their contents, line the wall behind the bar. Neon lights, a dartboard, barstools and other furnishings that could be from any bar found on Lawrence’s Massachusetts Street complete the room. 

“The bar lab will allow center-affiliated faculty, students and collaborators to conduct research in which participants consume alcohol using safe and highly controlled experimental paradigms,” Yi said. “To do that, we need to create as realistic environment as possible. We will explore the effect of alcohol consumption on thoughts and behaviors and the impact of a variety of factors on how much or fast someone drinks. In general, the lab will allow for comprehensive, experimental examinations of factors that contribute to problematic versus controlled drinking, as well as their consequences.”

While a small handful of “bar labs” exist at peer universities in the U.S., they are not common, allowing center faculty and students to conduct research that is not possible at most institutions, Yi said.

Photo: The new Cofrin Logan Center alcohol administration laboratory provides a realistic environment for center-affiliated faculty, staff and collaborators to conduct research in which participants consume alcohol using safe and highly controlled experimental paradigms. Liquor bottles, emptied of their contents, line the wall behind the bar.