Federal grant creates new Yale Tobacco Center of Regulatory Science

Researchers at Yale will investigate the science of tobacco addiction thanks to a $20 million federal grant that will create the Yale Tobacco Center of Regulatory Science.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the National Institutes of Health on Sept. 19 announced the awarding of 14 such five-year grants to create research centers that will contribute to the pool of scientific knowledge that FDA will use to inform its tobacco-related regulatory activities.

The Yale center will study how flavors, including menthol, and sweeteners affect the development of addiction to tobacco products. Researchers will also train a new generation of scientists, and provide pilot funding to stimulate research related to tobacco regulatory science.

The center's interdisciplinary team of researchers will be led by co-directors Suchitra Krishnan-Sarin, associate professor of psychiatry, and Stephanie O'Malley, professor of psychiatry.

The researchers include experts in sensory perception, brain reward pathways, adolescent tobacco use, and human behavioral pharmacology, as well as health economics and decision-making.

“The center's core projects are designed to explore how added flavors affect nicotine choice, nicotine reinforcement, addictive properties of tobacco, and perception of risk and overall interest in using tobacco products,” Krishnan-Sarin said.

“Our findings will provide the necessary data to ensure new tobacco regulations are based on sound science,” said O'Malley.

Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) said, “Stopping Big Tobacco's despicable tactics — designed to lure children into lifetimes of addiction and disease — should be a national imperative. This grant will help fight tobacco companies' deceptive pitches and flavored products that hook smokers on nicotine, putting them on a path to a painful premature death. Yale's center will give us tools in research and advocacy to wage the fight against Big Tobacco's marketing behemoth.”

In addition to Drs. Krishnan-Sarin and O'Malley, the center's core faculty will include Barry Green, Peter Jatlow, Sven-Eric Jordt, Marina Picciotto, Mehmet Sofuoglu, Jody Sindelar, and Benjamin Toll.

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