Penn Abramson Cancer Center researcher Caryn Lerman, PhD, receives 2007 Alton Ochsner Award

July 26, 2007

PHILADELPHIA - Caryn Lerman, PhD, Deputy Director, of the Abramson Cancer Center of the University of Pennsylvania, has been awarded the 22nd Annual Alton Ochsner Award Relating Smoking and Health.

The award will be presented to Lerman for her work on pharmacogenetic approaches to nicotine dependence treatment at the annual convention of the American College of Chest Physicians on October 21st, 2007, in Chicago.

Dr. Lerman is the Mary W. Calkins Professor in the Department of Psychiatry and the Annenberg School for Communication. She is also Director of the NIH-funded Transdisciplinary Tobacco Use Research Center at the University of Pennsylvania which translates research in neuroscience, pharmacology, and genetics to develop pharmacological therapies for nicotine dependence. In human behavioral pharmacology studies, Lerman's laboratory studies the effects of different medications and novel compounds on nicotine's reinforcing effects and nicotine abstinence symptoms. Recently, she and her colleagues discovered that variation in genes in the brain's dopamine reward pathway and in the endogenous opioid system influence how smokers respond to medications for nicotine dependence. Such research will help create targeted treatments for people to successfully quit smoking with a reduced chance of relapse.

Penn's Transdisciplinary Tobacco Use Research Center links with Penn's Leonard Davis Institute for Health Economics, the Annenberg School for Communication, and the Abramson Cancer Center. Through these collaborations, Lerman and her colleagues hope to increase the likelihood that emerging scientific findings are translated into practice to reduce morbidity and mortality from tobacco use.
Abramson Cancer Center (ACC) members currently hold over $145 million in grant funding. The ACC ranks fifth in funding from the National Cancer Institute and fourth in American Cancer Society funding. Areas of research excellence at the ACC include: basic and translational research, breast cancer, melanoma, hematologic malignancies/bone marrow transplantation, innovative clinical trials (200 active ongoing trials), developmental therapeutics, and cancer prevention and survivorship. For more information on the Abramson Cancer Center, please go to or call 1-800-789-PENN.

PENN Medicine is a $3.5 billion enterprise dedicated to the related missions of medical education, biomedical research, and excellence in patient care. PENN Medicine consists of the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine (founded in 1765 as the nation's first medical school) and the University of Pennsylvania Health System.

Penn's School of Medicine is ranked #2 in the nation for receipt of NIH research funds; and ranked #3 in the nation in U.S. News & World Report's most recent ranking of top research-oriented medical schools. Supporting 1,400 fulltime faculty and 700 students, the School of Medicine is recognized worldwide for its superior education and training of the next generation of physician-scientists and leaders of academic medicine.

The University of Pennsylvania Health System includes three hospitals, all of which have received numerous national patient-care honors [Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania; Pennsylvania Hospital, the nation's first hospital; and Penn Presbyterian Medical Center]; a faculty practice plan; a primary-care provider network; two multi-specialty satellite facilities; and home care and hospice.

University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine

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