News Release

Friday, November 9, 2007

OBSSR Director Dr. David Abrams Receives Joseph W. Cullen Memorial Award

In recognition of his contributions to the field of tobacco research, David Abrams, Ph.D., director of the Office of Behavioral and Social Sciences Research (OBSSR), in the Office of the Director, at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), is the recipient of the 2008 Joseph W. Cullen Memorial Award from the American Society for Preventive Oncology (ASPO). Since his arrival in 2005, he has led OBSSR in its mission to stimulate and coordinate behavioral and social sciences research throughout NIH with the ultimate goal of improving our nation’s health.

Before joining OBSSR, Abrams was professor of psychiatry and human behavior and professor of community health at the Alpert Medical School of Brown University, and Butler Hospital, Providence, R.I. A graduate of Rutgers University, New Brunswick, N.J., Abrams joined Brown University in 1978 and served as the founding director of the Brown Centers for Behavioral and Preventive Medicine for 16 years. Abrams is a licensed clinical psychologist, specializing in health psychology/behavioral and preventive medicine. He is also the author of an award-winning clinical treatment handbook, which is widely recognized for use in training and in practice. But Abrams is perhaps best known for his mentoring of other scientists and his early championing of theories and models that bridge biomedical and public health sciences.

Selected by the American Society of Preventive Oncology’s Tobacco Special Interest Group from a list of distinguished nominees, Dr. Abrams is recognized for his contributions to tobacco control research.

"Dr. Abrams has made outstanding contributions to the national tobacco control efforts over the past 30 years, spanning the whole field of tobacco control. He has studied the underlying causes of nicotine dependence, evaluated behavioral and pharmacological treatments, and looked at environmental tobacco smoke exposure and policy. He truly exemplifies an outstanding visionary and a leader in making the world a healthier place," said Chair of ASPO's Tobacco Special Interest Group Alexander V. Prokhorov, M.D., Ph.D

The American Society of Preventive Oncology’s Joseph W. Cullen Award was conceived as a way to memorialize Dr. Joseph W. Cullen’s unparalleled contributions to national tobacco control. As Program Coordinator for the National Cancer Institute’s Smoking Tobacco and Cancer Program from 1982 to 1989, Joe Cullen architected the largest tobacco intervention and control program launched anywhere in the world. The award recognizes distinguished achievement in continued national tobacco control efforts, through research, through the development of prevention and cessation programs with wide-reaching public health impact, or through public policy and advocacy initiatives.

A formal award ceremony will occur on Monday, March 17, 2008, where Abrams will deliver his Joseph W. Cullen Memorial Award Lecture in Bethesda, Md.

The Office of Behavioral and Social Sciences Research (OBSSR) opened officially on July 1, 1995. The U.S. Congress established the Office of Behavioral and Social Sciences Research (OBSSR) in the Office of the Director, NIH, in recognition of the key role that behavioral and social factors often play in illness and health. The OBSSR mission is to stimulate behavioral and social sciences research throughout NIH and to integrate these areas of research more fully into others of the NIH health research enterprise, thereby improving our understanding, treatment, and prevention of disease.

The Office of the Director, the central office at NIH, is responsible for setting policy for NIH, which includes 27 Institutes and Centers. This involves planning, managing, and coordinating the programs and activities of all NIH components. The Office of the Director also includes program offices which are responsible for stimulating specific areas of research throughout NIH. Additional information is available at

About the National Institutes of Health (NIH): NIH, the nation's medical research agency, includes 27 Institutes and Centers and is a component of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. NIH is the primary federal agency conducting and supporting basic, clinical, and translational medical research, and is investigating the causes, treatments, and cures for both common and rare diseases. For more information about NIH and its programs, visit

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