In Brief

The National Cancer Institute (NCI) and the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) have united to form the Transdisciplinary Tobacco Use Research Centers (TTURC), a five-year project that brings together researchers from various disciplines to study tobacco use and dependency. Researchers will investigate a number of topics, including addiction, prevention and initiation of tobacco use, cessation treatments, culture, genetics and animal models of behavior.

NCI and NIDA will contribute $70 million over the next five years to the project; in addition, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) plans to donate $14 million to help address the gulf between research and application of research and to effectively communicate research findings to scientists, policymakers, managed care and the general public.

"Tobacco use has enough mature research to handle a transdisciplinary approach," says Jaylan S. Turkhan, PhD, chief of the Behavioral Sciences Research Branch at NIDA. "No one discipline has all the answers. Neither genetics, psychology or other fields know the whole story when it comes to nicotine research, so this project will allow researchers to collaborate and optimize their resources."

The decision to create the centers comes from a 1998 recommendation of NCI's Tobacco Research Implementation Group, which sought ways to increase tobacco use research. Even though TTURC is still in its infancy, Turkhan says NIDA plans to assign one of its staff members the responsibility of compiling yearly progress reports on specific fields (i.e., genetics, gender differences, etc.). NIDA, NCI and the RWJF plan to meet twice a year with the principal investigators of the centers to review new findings and review progress of the initiative.

For more information on TTURC, visit


The seven university centers, principal investigators and research topics are:

  • The Brown University Center for Behavioral and Preventive Medicine at the Miriam Hospital, Providence, R.I.; David B. Abrams, PhD; topic: what early childhood and lifetime psychiatric factors involve smoking initiation through cessation.

  • The University of California at Irvine; Frances M. Leslie, PhD; topic: what predicts nicotine addiction and tobacco susceptibility and use.

  • The University of Southern California, Los Angeles; C. Anderson Johnson, PhD; topic: what methods can hinder tobacco use in various cultures of young people.

  • Georgetown University, Washington, D.C.; Caryn Lerman, PhD; topic: what are the biobehavioral causes behind smoking initiation, treatment and the health risks of smoking.

  • University of Minnesota, Minneapolis; Dorothy K. Hatsukami, PhD; topic: why conventional cessation programs do not work for some smokers.

  • University of Wisconsin Medical School, Madison; Michael C. Fiore, MD, MPH; topic: tobacco recidivism.

  • Yale University, New Haven, Conn.; Stephanie S. O'Malley, PhD; topic: tobacco cessation treatments.