Thomas F.A. Plaut, 78, a clinical psychologist affiliated with the National Institute of Mental Health from 1967 to 1995 who had drafted a leading early study of alcoholism, died of renal failure Aug. 20 at his home in Princeton Junction, N.J.
Dr. Plaut prepared the alcohol study in the mid-1960s while working as a research associate at Stanford University and serving on the Cooperative Commission on the Study of Alcoholism.
He prepared a much-cited report in 1967 that detailed past, failed controls of alcohol, such as Prohibition, and promoted the need for more effective federal policies to address alcohol problems.
"Additional information about the nature and causes of problem drinking is urgently needed," he wrote. "Past research in this area has been uneven and sporadic. . . . While special attention to alcohol problems is currently required . . . research in this field cannot be developed in isolation from investigations of a basic science nature and those on other medical and psycho-social problems."
Dr. Plaut joined NIMH as assistant chief of the National Center for Prevention and Control of Alcoholism. He was the NIMH deputy director from 1974 to 1979.
He later worked in administrative positions handling research, prevention, training and service programs in mental health.
Thomas Franz Alfred Plaut, the son of a physician, was born in New York. He was an Army veteran of World War II.
He was a graduate of Swarthmore College and received from Harvard University a doctorate in psychology and a master's degree in public health.
Early in his career, he worked around Boston. His was a clinical psychologist at Peter Bent Brigham Hospital in Boston from 1953 to 1957 and then an instructor at Harvard University's public health school until 1962.
In the 1970s, he supported moving patients out of mental hospitals and into community mental health centers.
He served on President Jimmy Carter's Commission on Mental Health and the subcommittee on mental health of President Bill Clinton's Task Force on Health Care Reform.
After leaving NIMH, he taught at Johns Hopkins University and continued clinical work with clients in his home office.
He was a longtime resident of the Bannockburn neighborhood in Bethesda and lived briefly in Rockville before moving to New Jersey in 2002.
His marriage to Evelyn Plaut ended in divorce.
Survivors include his wife, Bonnie A. Cox, whom he married in 1976, of Princeton Junction; six children from the first marriage, Melanie Plaut and Daphne Plaut, both of Portland, Ore., Tony Plaut of Mount Vernon, Iowa, Jeffrey Plaut of Pasadena, Calif., Iris Plaut Masucci of Potomac and Roger Plaut of Silver Spring; two stepdaughters, Carole Womeldorf of Princeton Junction and Susan Womeldorf of Huntington, W.Va.; a brother; and 11 grandchildren.