The Ernest Gallo Clinic and Research Center was established in 1980 at the University of California, San Francisco, to study basic neuroscience and the effects of alcohol on the brain.

With funding provided by Mr. Ernest Gallo of E. & J. Gallo Winery, Founding Director Ivan Diamond, MD, PhD, developed a unique research program designed to employ cellular and molecular biology to investigate the fundamental neurological mechanisms of alcohol. In 1986, following six years of intensive work in laboratories at San Francisco General Hospital, Dr. Diamond and colleagues created the first model for cellular tolerance to alcohol in a human cell culture line (Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 83:2105-2108, 1986). Cellular changes observed in this study appeared to parallel the clinical events observed in alcoholic patients, opening new avenues for studying the effects of alcohol and other substances of abuse on the nervous system, and the ensuing medical complications.

In 1998, the goals and scientific accomplishments of the Gallo Center came to the attention of California Governor Pete Wilson. After careful scrutiny of the Gallo Center’s program, and with the overwhelming approval of both the State Senate and Assembly, Governor Wilson signed a bill to provide major state funding for the Center. These funds, administered through the UCSF Department of Neurology, allowed for the expansion of the Gallo Center both in terms of space and scientific staff. In 1999, the Center relocated to Emeryville, California, occupying nearly 88,000 square feet of newly constructed space. Raymond White, PhD, A pioneer in the field of human genetic mapping, was appointed the second Director of the Gallo Center in 2002.

As the Center grew, its mission expanded to encompass research in alcoholism, substance abuse and the co-morbidities associated with addiction. With the opening of the Sandler Neuroscience Building at UCSF’s Mission Bay Campus, the Center’s basic science laboratories were relocated to UCSF & UC Berkeley in 2013.