What is the Program for Research, Outreach, Therapeutics, and Education in the Addictions (PROTEA)?


We are an interdisciplinary group at UW that engages in innovative and collaborative programs of research, education, patient care, and community engagement to improve systems of prevention and treatment for substance-related issues and, thereby, improve health and well-being in patients and communities.


PROTEA aims to innovate treatment and prevention systems in order to ensure timely access to competent, compassionate, and effective care for those struggling with substance related issues; minimize the community level impacts and inequities associated with substance misuse; and eliminate unfair and stigmatizing practices and policies related to alcohol and other drug use issues.

What is PROTEA?

The Protea Flower

PROTEA not only serves as an acronym for the Program for Research, Outreach, Therapeutics, and Education in the Addictions, it’s also a flower symbolizing transformation and courage. It was chosen as a logo to represent the relationship of individual, family, and community struggles in the setting of substance misuse and addiction. Enhancing individual lives and communities where substance use is having negative impact requires courage, often involving dramatic shifts in perceptions, social network and functioning, and day-to-day habitual behaviors to achieve positive change.

Protea in Nature

The King Protea is the national flower of South Africa and tends to grow best in harsh climates. Many species of Protea require the dramatic changes brought by fire for germination and regrowth.

Protea in Greek Mythology

Protea comes from the root “Proteus,” the Greek god who was the son of Poseidon. From Encyclopedia Britannica: “Proteus knew all things—past, present, and future—but disliked divulging what he knew. Those who wished to consult him had first to surprise and bind him during his noonday slumber. Even when caught he would try to escape by assuming all sorts of shapes. But if his captor held him fast, the god at last returned to his proper shape, gave the wished-for answer, and plunged into the sea. Because Proteus could assume whatever shape he pleased, he came to be regarded by some as a symbol of the original matter from which the world was created.”

Proteus also is symbolic of the soul. During the Renaissance, the myth of Proteus was one of the most popular tales bespeaking the ambiguous nature and many visages of the soul.


Contact Us

Megan Ringo
Program Manager
Email: Contact »

Program Office

UW Dept. of Family Medicine
610 N Whitney Way, STE 200
Madison, WI 53705-2700