Researchers Get $19 Million Tobacco Grant, the Largest in Georgia State History

In what is the largest grant in Georgia State University history, the university’s School of Public Health and its partners will receive $19 million over five years from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to establish one of 14 Tobacco Centers of Regulatory Science (TCORS).

Georgia State, with its partners, the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) and RTI International, will focus on a particularly important and often overlooked aspect of regulatory science, the understanding of human decision-making around the use of tobacco. Led by Michael P. Eriksen, dean of the School of Public Health and lead author of the “Tobacco Atlas,” the Georgia State TCORS will conduct three research projects to examine human economic behavior, consumer reaction to tobacco marketing and individual perception of risk of using novel tobacco products.

“Working with our colleagues on campus, our partners at UIC led by Frank Chaloupka and RTI led by Matthew Farrelly, as well as other TCORS across the country, our research will provide the kind of practical insight FDA and NIH policymakers need to inform their regulatory decisions,” Eriksen said. “This type of collaboration is absolutely essential to winning the ongoing battle against tobacco.”

Despite decades of work to reduce its use in the United States, tobacco continues to be the leading cause of preventable death and disease. A first-of-its-kind regulatory science tobacco program, TCORS seeks to generate research to inform the regulation of tobacco products to protect public health. Using funds from FDA, TCORS will be coordinated by NIH’s Office of Disease Prevention and administered by three NIH institutes—the National Cancer Institute, the National Institute on Drug Abuse and the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute.

“For the first time, under the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act, the federal government, through the FDA Center for Tobacco Products (CTP), is able to bring science-based regulation to the manufacturing, marketing and distribution of tobacco products,” said FDA Commissioner Margaret A. Hamburg. “The FDA is committed to a science-based approach that addresses the complex public health issues raised by tobacco product regulation.”

For more on this subject, read our Q&A with Dean Eriksen discussing the new fronts in the war on tobacco.

The agency is establishing science and research programs to increase understanding of the risks associated with tobacco use. The TCORS program brings together investigators from across the country to aid in the development and evaluation of tobacco product regulations. Each TCORS application identified a targeted research goal. Taken together, the TCORS sites will increase knowledge across the spectrum of basic and applied research on tobacco and addiction.

“We are thrilled to have this tremendous opportunity to do more of what Georgia State does best—research that changes people’s lives,” said Georgia State President Mark Becker.

The TCORS program provides young investigators with training opportunities to ensure the development of the next generation of tobacco regulatory scientists. Georgia State researchers from the School of Public Health and the Department of Communication in the College of Arts and Sciences, as well as a number of pre- and post-doctoral fellows will collaborate on the grant. There will also be opportunities for graduate students and visiting faculty members at the Georgia State TCORS.

Prior to the FDA and NIH award, the largest grant received by Georgia State was about $15 million from the National Science Foundation for the Center for Behavioral Neuroscience in 1999.

Composed of scientists with expertise in fields including epidemiology, behavior, biology, medicine, economics, chemistry, toxicology, addictions, public health, communications and marketing, the TCORS program is the centerpiece of the FDA/NIH collaboration to foster research relevant to tobacco regulatory science. New research from TCORS will help inform and assess the impact of FDA’s prior, ongoing and potential future tobacco regulatory activities implemented by CTP.

“While we’ve made tremendous strides in reducing the use of tobacco products in the U.S., smoking still accounts for one in five deaths each year, which is far too many,” said NIH Director Francis S. Collins. “FDA/NIH partnerships like the Tobacco Centers of Regulatory Science keep us focused on reducing the burden and devastation of preventable disease caused by tobacco use.”

The TCORS awards represent a significant investment in federal tobacco regulatory science, including $53 million in the first year and a potential total of more than $273 million over the next five years.  Designed to generate vital research in seven core areas and ensure innovation in the field, the research supported by this initiative will provide scientific evidence within the following seven FDA tobacco-related research interest areas:

  • Diversity of tobacco products
  • Reduction of addiction
  • Reduction of toxicity and carcinogenicity
  • Adverse health consequences
  • Communications
  • Marketing of tobacco products
  • Economics and policies

TCORS proposals were selected for funding based on their scientific and technical merit as determined by NIH scientific peer review, availability of funds, and relevance of the proposed projects to program priorities. The other 13 TCORS have been awarded to: American Heart Association, Dallas; University of Maryland, College Park; Virginia Commonwealth University; University of California-San Francisco; University of Vermont and State Agriculture College; University of Pennsylvania; Yale University; Penn State College of Medicine/Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center; University of Southern California; University of Texas Health Sciences Center; University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill; Ohio State University; and University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Medicine. 

CONTACT:

Georgia State University SPH—Frances Marine, 404-413-1504, francesmarine@gsu.edu
RTI International—Lisa Bistreich-Wolfe, 919-316-3596, lbistreich@rti.org
University of Illinois at Chicago—Sherri McGinnis-Gonzalez, 312-413-1883, smcginn@uic.edu
FDA—Jenny Haliski, 301-796-0776, jennifer.haliski@fda.hhs.gov
NIH—Jody Engel, 301-402-9846, engeljo@mail.nih.gov
Consumer Inquiries: 888-INFO-FDA

 
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