The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health is one of the premier centres for research related to substance use and addiction. This research began more than 50 years ago with the Addiction Research Foundation (ARF), an organization that contributed significantly to knowledge about the aetiology, treatment and prevention of substance use, addiction and related harm. After the merger of the ARF with three other institutions in 1998, research on substance use continued, with an additional focus on comorbid substance use and other mental health disorders. In the present paper, we describe the structure of funding and organization and selected current foci of research. We argue for the continuation of this successful model of integrating basic, epidemiological, clinical, health service and prevention research under the roof of a health centre.