Federal institutes and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation create Tobacco Use Research Centers

October 17, 1999

Seven academic institutions have been awarded grants totaling $14.5 million by the National Cancer Institute (NCI) and the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) to create the Transdisciplinary Tobacco Use Research Centers for studying tobacco use and new ways to combat it and its consequences. The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) has committed an additional $14 million over five years to complement NCI's and NIDA's efforts to improve the policy understanding and communications practices of the tobacco research teams.

The funds announced today will be used for the first year of a five-year project to foster unique collaborations among scientists across many disciplines, and to focus on areas where there are gaps in knowledge, such as adolescent smoking. Together, NCI and NIDA will spend about $70 million for the effort over five years.

With each center organized around a special theme, researchers will tackle a wide range of studies that include culture, genetics, animal models of behavior, and innovative treatments. Investigators will study the prevention of tobacco use, initiation of tobacco use, and addiction. Tobacco-related disease causes more than 450,000 deaths each year, including 170,000 cancer deaths.

"Tobacco use and nicotine addiction are such complex subjects that it will take a truly transdisciplinary approach to understand the addiction and how to prevent tobacco use, particularly by teens and younger children," said Alan I. Leshner, Ph.D., NIDA's Director.

"These centers promise to accelerate development of effective tobacco control interventions, speed the transfer of these approaches to communities across the nation, and create a core of new tobacco control researchers," said NCI's Director Richard D. Klausner, M.D.

This collaboration will complement NCI's and NIDA's existing efforts. In November 1998, NCI announced a plan to expand and accelerate tobacco use research, following the recommendations of the institute's Tobacco Research Implementation Group. Creation of the tobacco use research centers was the highest of nine priorities recommended by the group. A transdisciplinary approach to research about tobacco use and addiction was the topic of a national conference convened in July 1998 by NIDA and cosponsored by The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

"This partnership represents an extraordinary opportunity," said Steven A. Schroeder, M.D., president of The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. "We hope to increase our understanding of effective policies in tobacco use prevention and treatment and to put that knowledge into practice as quickly as possible in the real world."

The centers' locations, principal investigators, and research themes follow:
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For more information about cancer, visit the NCI's Web site for patients, the public, and the mass media at http://rex.nci.gov.

NIDA supports more than 85 percent of the world's research on the health aspects of drug abuse and addiction. For more information on NIDA research, check NIDA's home page at http://www.drugabuse.gov. For information about drug abuse and addiction, call the National Clearinghouse on Alcohol and Drug Information at 1-800-729-6686.

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (http://www.rwjf.org), based in Princeton, NJ, is the nation's largest philanthropy devoted exclusively to health and health care. It concentrates its grantmaking in three goal areas: to assure that all Americans have access to basic health care at reasonable cost; to improve care and support for people with chronic health conditions; and to reduce the personal, social and economic harm caused by substance abuse, tobacco, alcohol, and illicit drugs.

NIH/National Institute on Drug Abuse

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