New Awards Program To Recognize Achievements In Pathological Gambling Research

National Center for Responsible Gaming Will Honor Scientific Excellence in Emerging Field

Dec 17, 2001

LAS VEGAS—The National Center for Responsible Gaming (NCRG), which in five years has transformed pathological gambling research by supporting only the most rigorous and independent peer-reviewed investigations, has established an annual awards program that will recognize scientific contributions to this emerging field.

Nominations in seven categories will be accepted, including Early Career Contribution; Distinguished Career Contribution; Outstanding Journal Article; Outstanding Neuroscience Research; Outstanding Social and Behavioral Science Research; Outstanding Public Health Research; and Outstanding Public Policy Research.

A selection committee composed of members of the program advisory board of the Institute for Research on Pathological Gambling and Related Disorders at Harvard Medical School’s Division on Addictions will review all nominations. Members of the advisory board include leading academic researchers in the field of mental health and addictions, such as Herbert D. Kleber, M.D., professor of psychiatry, Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons; David C. Lewis, M.D., professor of medicine and project director for Brown University; and Barry Kosofsky, M.D., Ph.D., associate neurologist, Massachusetts General Hospital and associate professor of neurology at Harvard Medical School.

‘For a field that is relatively new compared to other areas of science, it is important that we recognize those individuals who have significantly contributed to the advancement of scientific knowledge focusing on gambling disorders,’ said Maj. Gen. Paul Harvey (ret.), NCRG board chairman. ‘The more scientific knowledge that is gained through rigorous research about this complex issue, the closer we are to having better applications for the diagnosis and treatment of problems.’

Awards will be given exclusively on the scientific merits of nominees and will be presented at the 2002 annual scientific conference sponsored by the NCRG and the Institute for Research on Pathological Gambling and Related Disorders at Harvard Medical School’s Division on Addictions. Sponsors of this awards program will include Argosy Gaming Corporation, Boyd Gaming Corporation, Harrah’s Entertainment Inc., MGM MIRAGE, Station Casinos Inc. and others.

The scientific awards program was approved by the NCRG board of directors, which met here earlier this month. The board meeting was held in conjunction with the 2001 annual conference, ‘Toward Meaningful Diagnosis of Gambling Disorders: From Theory to Practice.’ The two-day conference, which explored the issues associated with developing a clear definition of pathological gambling and methods for diagnosis, also was sponsored by the Nevada Council on Problem Gambling.

‘This is a very youthful field that’s just beginning to boom,’ said Howard Shaffer, Ph.D., director of Harvard Medical School’s Division on Addictions. ‘Because it’s a young field, we don’t know nearly as much as we think we do. My hope is that through continued scrupulous research, we will advance this field to a point where we can diagnose a pathological gambler before the destructive problems play out.’

The conference attracted approximately 140 attendees, including clinicians, academic researchers, treatment providers, public policy-makers, gaming regulators, gaming industry employees and staff from state councils on problem gambling.

The conference served as a forum to discuss the need for more research to help identify the nature of gambling disorders – to determine whether problem gambling is the core problem or is just a symptom of another problem, such as alcoholism or depression. Also discussed at the conference were several new studies that are in the planning stages to examine how problem gambling effects various segments of the population, such as women and youth.

In addition to the scientific awards program, the NCRG board also approved the implementation of a communications/media outreach plan for the NCRG to further raise awareness of the work being funded by the NCRG as well as its public education programs. The NCRG also hopes to raise its visibility as a valuable resource on responsible gaming for academics, industry and the media. As part of this communication effort, the NCRG, in conjunction with the American Gaming Association, released the first issue of Responsible Gaming Quarterly (RGQ), devoted to highlighting initiatives throughout the industry, government, academia and the treatment community to address disordered gambling.

The NCRG was established in 1996 to address the need for a greater understanding of pathological gambling and related disorders. Since 1996, the NCRG has awarded $3.7 million in research grants to more than 20 institutions, and in 2000 awarded a $2.6 million contract to Harvard Medical School’s Division on Addictions to establish the Institute for Research on Pathological Gambling and Related Disorders to carry out the research initiatives first established by the NCRG.