BiographyDr. Schuckit received a B.S. from the University of Wisconsin, an M.D. from Washington University, interned at Cedars Sinai Medical Center, and was a resident in psychiatry at Washington University and UCSD. He was a special advisor to the Commanding Officer of the Naval Health Research Center (1972–1974), and the first Director of the Alcohol and Drug Institute, University of Washington (1975–1978). He returned to San Diego in 1978 as Director of the Alcohol and Drug Treatment Program, University of California, San Diego, and the VA San Diego Healthcare System, which he directed until July 1, 2009. His research focuses on genetic and environmental influences in alcohol and drug use disorders, comorbid psychiatric conditions in the context of alcohol and drug use, and diagnostic systems related to these conditions. Dr. Schuckit’s recent projects include increasing the understanding of the biologic underpinnings of the low sensitivity to alcohol through functional brain imaging techniques, and implementing a program to decrease heavy drinking in adolescents by teaching them about genetically influenced characteristics they carry that increase their risks for alcohol-related problems.
Research InterestsDr. Schuckit’s major focus is alcohol and drugs. He was Chair of the DSM-IV substance disorders workgroup and a member of the DSM-V committee. In addition, he has published papers about the optimal diagnostic criteria for substance use disorders. Regarding the genetics of alcoholism, Dr. Schuckit has carried out adoption-type studies, identified a genetic characteristic that impacts on elevated alcoholism risk (the low level of response to alcohol), and is now uncovering related genes. He is currently completing a 25-year follow-up (94% success rate) of sons of alcoholics where he is identifying environmental events that might relate to how the biological predisposition toward alcohol dependence is mediated. An additional research area is co-morbidity between substance use disorders and major psychiatric conditions.
Clinical FocusDr. Schuckit directed the Alcohol and Drug Treatment Program at the VA San Diego Healthcare System, and still supervises residents, medical students, and staff. He is also a major contact person regarding alcohol and drug problems in students, faculty, and staff at UCSD and the San Diego VA. Additional clinical interests include the treatment of depressive disorders, anxiety conditions, and geriatric psychiatric populations.