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NIDA. (1999, April 1). NIDA Teams With National Cancer Institute to Establish Tobacco Research Centers. Retrieved from

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April 01, 1999
Robert Mathias

NIDA is joining with the National Cancer Institute (NCI) to create tobacco research centers across the Nation. The centers will bring together scientists in areas as diverse as molecular biology and social marketing to collaborate on research to reverse the tide of tobacco-related diseases that claims more than 430,000 lives in the U.S. each year. NIDA will commit at least $20 million and NCI will commit $50 million over the next 5 years to fund the centers, which will augment ongoing tobacco research by both Institutes. The Institutes expect to fund at least five centers this year.

Biobehavioral model of nicotine addiction and tobacco related cancersThe tobacco research centers will bring together scientists to collaborate on research that addresses the many factors, such as those shown here, that may lead to nicotine addiction and cancer.

The joint NCI/NIDA initiative is soliciting research proposals from investigators across the country to establish Transdisciplinary Tobacco Use Research Centers to study the prevention of tobacco use, initiation of tobacco use, addiction to tobacco, and/or treatment of tobacco addiction and tobacco-related cancers. Each center also will focus on different areas in which there are gaps in knowledge, such as adolescent smoking and the use of tobacco products besides cigarettes, such as cigars and spit tobacco. The overriding goal of the centers will be to support innovative transdisciplinary research that is likely to have the greatest impact on reducing tobacco use and its consequences around the world.

"The collaboration between NCI and NIDA emphasizes the need to focus on all aspects of the tobacco problem - the causes, prevention, and treatment of nicotine addiction and the dramatic health consequences of tobacco use," says NIDA Director Dr. Alan I. Leshner. "By taking a comprehensive approach to the problem, these centers will accelerate the development of broadly effective tobacco use prevention and treatment interventions."

The initiative to create tobacco research centers comes in the face of an increase in cigarette smoking by young people in recent years as charted by NIDA's annual Monitoring the Future surveys of drug use among high school and college students. In addition, data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta indicate that, after decades of decline, rates of tobacco use by adults have stabilized at about 26 percent of the U.S. population.

"We seem to be in the middle of a turnaround in young people's use of most kinds of illicit drugs following an earlier period of sustained increases."

The new tobacco research centers will address pressing unresolved issues that underlie these trends in tobacco use, such as: Why do some children who experiment with tobacco become addicted, while others do not? How can people be helped to quit smoking? Are there genes that predispose some people to tobacco addiction or protect them from it? Because the answers to such questions lie hidden in a web of complex genetic, social, cultural, and economic factors, the centers will study tobacco use in ways that will integrate biological and psychosocial models of tobacco use and addiction. The centers will foster collaborative research among scientists with expertise in areas that include molecular biology, genetics, neuroscience, epidemiology, imaging, primary care, behavioral science, communications, health policy, economics, and marketing.