| NIH Announces New Funding for Transdisciplinary
Tobacco Use Research Centers
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) today announced new funding
for the Transdisciplinary Tobacco Use Research Centers (TTURC) initiative,
which originally awarded grants to seven research centers in 1999.
This new investment, totaling almost $12 million, will be funded
over the next five years by the National Institute on Drug Abuse
(NIDA), the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA),
and the National Cancer Institute (NCI). The new group of centers
and principal investigators includes:
- Brown University and The Miriam Hospital, Raymond Niaura, Ph.D.
- University of Wisconsin, Timothy B. Baker, Ph.D.
- Roswell Park Cancer Institute, K. Michael Cummings, Ph.D., MPH
- University of Minnesota, Dorothy K. Hatsukami, Ph.D.
- University of Southern California, C. Anderson Johnson, Ph.D.
- University of Pennsylvania, Caryn E. Lerman, Ph.D.
- Yale University, Stephanie S. O'Malley, Ph.D.
The centers will study a wide range of topics, including genetic
and psychosocial factors that influence tobacco use and addiction;
effective smoking cessation treatments; exploration of molecules
or genes that could affect tobacco exposure and disease risk; and
the public health impact of regional and national tobacco control
"Tobacco control is one of my top five prevention priorities,
and I am pleased that three institutes of NIH are supporting research
to address the leading cause of preventable death in the United
States," said HHS Secretary Tommy G. Thompson.
NCI Director Andrew von Eschenbach said, "Our support for
TTURC reflects recognition of the detrimental public health impact
of tobacco use and the need for integrative transdisciplinary research
across basic and applied studies." NCI co-funds all seven centers
and has invested $7 million in the initiative. Lung cancer, overwhelmingly
caused by tobacco use, is the leading cause of cancer death in the
"We know that smoking is highly addictive and exposes the
whole body to thousands of compounds in tobacco smoke," said
NIDA Director Nora D. Volkow. "NIDA is committed to funding
research to reduce the adverse health, economic and social consequences
of all drugs of abuse, including nicotine, to individuals, families
and communities." NIDA co-funds three of the centers and has
invested $3 million in the initiative.
"Patterns of co-occurring alcohol and tobacco use and dependence
warrant greater scrutiny," said NIAAA Director Ting-Kai Li.
"NIAAA is pleased to be a new co-funder of this important research
into the underlying shared genetic and neurobiological vulnerabilities
to both forms of dependence, as well as the environmental factors
that influence usage of these drugs." NIAAA has invested $1.5
million in the TTURC initiative.
People who smoke are influenced by multiple interconnected factors,
including behavioral, social, environmental, psychological, genetic,
and biologic factors. As evidenced by the diversity of collaborations
and research outcomes since 1999, the TTURC initiative spans multiple
perspectives and is leading to new strategies for addressing tobacco
control. The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation has partnered with the
original grantees to help disseminate research results. Highlights
of important scientific findings from the original TTURC grants
are described below.
- Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania this year published
the first study to identify specific genes that may influence
adolescent smoking progression in conjunction with psychological
- Investigators at the University of California, Irvine (UCI)
found that hostile, anxious, and depressed teens are more likely
to smoke. A collaboration between the UCI and University of Southern
California TTURCs revealed, however, that such factors work differently
in White and Asian youth. For example, hostility and depression
are associated with smoking in White but not Asian youth; Asian
youth are more likely to smoke in social situations.
- Results from Brown University show that offspring of mothers
who smoked a pack or more of cigarettes per day during pregnancy
had a higher risk for nicotine dependence compared to children
whose mothers did not smoke during pregnancy.
- Research and collaboration at the Yale TTURC led to the development
of a new radiotracer (a drug tagged with radioactivity that allows
researchers to take pictures of where nicotine acts in the brain)
that will not only examine the effects of tobacco smoking on the
brain, but also will allow researchers to explore the role of
the nicotinic system in Alzheimer's disease, alcoholism, major
depression, and schizophrenia.
For more information about the TTURC initiative, visit http://cancercontrol.cancer.gov/tcrb/tturc.