ABSTRACT The Centre for Social Research on Alcohol and Drugs (SoRAD) was established as a national research centre and department within the Faculty of Social Science at Stockholm University in 1997, following a Government Report and with the aim to strengthen social alcohol and drug research. Initially, core funding came from the Swedish Council for Working Life and Social Research and from the Ministry of Health and Social Affairs for several long-term projects. Today, SoRAD, with 25 senior and junior researchers, has core funding from the university but most of its funding comes from external national and international grants. Research is organized under three themes: consumption, problems and norms, alcohol and drug policy and societal reactions, treatment and recovery processes. SoRADs scientific approach, multi-disciplinarity, a mix of qualitative and quantitative methods and international comparisons was established by the centre's first leader, Robin Room. Regular internal seminars are held and young researchers are encouraged to attend scientific meetings and take part in collaborative projects. SoRAD researchers produce government-funded monthly statistics on alcohol consumption and purchase, and take part in various national government committees, but SoRADs research has no clear political or bureaucratic constraints. One of the future challenges for SoRAD will be the proposed system for university grants allocation, where applied social science will have difficulties competing with basic biomedical research if decisions are based on publication and citation measures.