About Richard Clayton

Richard (Dick) Clayton graduated from Louisiana College (BA, 1963), the Florida State University (MA, 1966) and the University of Tennessee (PhD, 1970) in sociology. From 1966-68 he was an assistant professor in sociology (Chair 1967-68) at Stetson University.

Dick was appointed assistant professor of sociology at the University of Kentucky (August 1970) promoted to associate professor with tenure (1973) and professor (1979). In 1977-78 he was visiting scientist at NIDA helping develop the Institute’s research agenda on the relationship between drugs and crime. He has served on numerous grant review study sections and was appointed by the Secretary of Health and Human Services to serve on the NIDA National Advisory Council (1992-95). In addition, he wrote the only chapter required by in the first and second Triennial Reports to Congress on Drug Abuse and Drug Abuse Research and the chapter on prevention in the third report.    

In 1972 Clayton became member of a research team conducting a nationwide epidemiological study of drug use among young men born 1944-54, funded by the Special Action Office for Drug Abuse Prevention (SAODAP) in the Executive Office of the White House. The national sample and the sample from high drug use areas in Manhattan were drawn from Selective Service files. Monographs were published (1976, 1981). He was a co-principal investigator on the 1985 National Survey on Drug Abuse. Clayton also published The Family, Marriage and Social Change (1976, 1979).

The Center for Prevention Research was funded by NIDA in 1986, the only Center funded in the first round of funding with Dick as director and faculty from multiple departments across the University of Kentucky comprising a transdisciplinary research team. Dick’s project was a Randomized Control Trial evaluation of D.A.R.E., the school-based, curriculum-driven prevention program. The Center for Prevention Research has morphed into the Center for Drug Abuse Research Translation (C-DART) and is still funded by NIDA. Clayton has been the principal investigator or co-investigator on $48 million in grants and contracts.

In the early 1990s he helped establish the Society for Prevention Research, served as its 2nd President and in 2005 received a Presidential Award from the Society for outstanding contributions to prevention science.  

Clayton received the Great Teacher Award from the UK Alumni Association and also received a University Research Professor award; one of only five faculty members at the University of Kentucky to ever receive both awards.

From 1996-2009, Dick was chair of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s Tobacco Etiology Research Network (TERN), the first transdisciplinary research network at the Foundation and in the substance abuse field. It consisted of 13 senior/11 junior scientists from a number of different institutions and with specialties ranging from cells to society. TERN had 25 major meetings through December 2009 and total funding of $9 million. He was also a member and Chair of the Tobacco Research Network on Disparities (TReND), a transdisciplinary network of scientists and scholars funded by the National Cancer Institute and the American Legacy Foundation.

In January of 2001, Dick was appointed as the founding Good Samaritan Foundation Endowed Chair in Health Education and Health Promotion in the College of Public Health. He helped establish the University of Kentucky, College of Public Health (the first new college at the University in 30 years), served two terms as interim chair (Preventive Medicine and Environmental Health in the College of Medicine), was founding chair of the Department of Health Behavior and founding Associate Dean for Research in the College of Public Health.

In 2012, Dick was on sabbatical as a senior visiting scientist at Headstrong: The National Centre for Youth Mental Health in Dublin, Ireland. He and Bob Illback, the Deputy CEO of Headstrong, published a monograph detailing an economic analysis of the benefits and impact of Jigsaw, a community-based mental health intervention focused on youth and mental health issues.    

In 2004, Thomas Cooper (Professor in UK College of Dentistry) and Dick Clayton established The Cooper/Clayton Method to Stop Smoking, a comprehensive, behavioral smoking cessation program. To date Cooper and Clayton have personally trained over 1,700 community-level volunteers in Kentucky and 2,000 K-Mart pharmacists to deliver the program.

Dick Clayton is the chair of the Scientific Advisory Board of D.A.R.E. America and is the only scientist on the overall Board of Directors of D.A.R.E. America and D.A.R.E International. D.A.R.E. is the largest prevention program in the United States and is being taught in 49 other countries. In addition, Clayton is the only person who is not a law enforcement officer to go through the intensive, two-week training course to become a certified D.A.R.E. instructor. He also serves on the Board of Directors for the Pacific Institute on Research and Evaluation (PIRE) and is Chair of the Board of Health in Scott County, Kentucky.

In July of 2013, Dick Clayton retired after 43 years at the University of Kentucky. He served on two National Academy of Sciences panels, represented NIDA and the drug abuse research community at bi-national forums/conferences in 13 different countries and has published 8 books and more than 100 articles and chapters. He is a member of the University of Kentucky, College of Public Health Hall of Fame.