Monday, September 19, 2011

Oklahoma Scientists Awarded Tobacco Research Grants

Three Oklahoma researchers have been awarded $160,000 in seed grants by the Oklahoma Tobacco Research Center of the Stephenson Cancer Center. The funding will advance research into tobacco cessation, as well as lung cancer screening and treatment.

This year's recipients include one researcher from each of these three institutions: OU Norman, OU Health Sciences Center, and the University of Tulsa.

The Oklahoma Tobacco Research Center seed grants provide initial funding for promising new research projects, allowing researchers to initiate these projects while seeking additional major funding from organizations such as the National Institutes of Health.

All of the Oklahoma Tobacco Research Center projects focus on tobacco and its effect on health, primarily lung cancer, which is the leading preventable cause of death in the United States.

"Our state's tobacco use is above the national average. As a result, adults and children in Oklahoma are negatively impacted by the many ailments and diseases that result from chronic smoking," said Laura Beebe, PhD, Director of the Oklahoma Tobacco Research Center. "By supporting research that helps us explore and better understand the problems associated with tobacco use, we will be able to find ways to help Oklahomans who are struggling to quit and those who are already suffering from the life-threatening effects of tobacco use."

The 2012 Oklahoma Tobacco Research Center seed grant recipients are:

Samuel Chung, PhD, Assistant Professor, University of Oklahoma, Norman

In this preliminary study, investigators will focus on improving non-invasive screening for lung cancer. They will test prototype algorithms using publicly available databases such as Lung Image Database Consortium and Reference Image Database to Evaluate Response. The proposed algorithms will be evaluated using receiver operating characteristic curves, which plot true positive versus false positive rates to determine optimal models.

Syed Razi Hussani, PhD, Assistant Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry, University of Tulsa

This research project is focused on the development of new treatments to help smokers quit. It is a drug discovery project which deals with the development of a new chemical method for the asymmetric construction of anti-smoking compounds. The collaborative project between The Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, University of Tulsa and the College of Health Sciences at Oklahoma State University will provide expertise from the fields of organic synthesis and pharmacology, as well as diverse training for Oklahoma students.

Rajagopal Ramesh, PhD, Jim and Christy Everest Endowed Chair in Cancer Developmental Therapeutics, Professor of Pathology, Director, Experimental Therapeutics and Translational Cancer Medicine, OUHSC, Oklahoma City

Investigators aim to develop and test a molecularly targeted therapy for lung cancer using preclinical laboratory models. The outcome of this study could lead to advanced preclinical studies and ultimately to a new therapy that will improve the treatment of lung cancer patients in clinics across the state and nation.

The Oklahoma Tobacco Research Center was established in 2007 within the Stephenson Cancer Center to reduce the burden of tobacco-related health problems in Oklahoma. The center is funded by the Oklahoma Tobacco Settlement Endowment Trust with the purpose of leveraging investments to bring additional funding to Oklahoma from the National Cancer Institute, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other sources.

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