The Oklahoma Tobacco Settlement Endowment Trust has awarded a five-year, $20 million grant to Stephenson Cancer Center to fund the expansion of the Oklahoma Tobacco Research Center.
Grant dollars will directly support the Oklahoma Tobacco Research Center, a program of the Stephenson Cancer Center. Tobacco use in Oklahoma continues to be our greatest preventable cause of premature death and disability, and the economic cost to our state exceeds $2 billion.
“TSET has been one of the most important factors in our effort to reduce the burden of cancer for all Oklahomans,” Stephenson Cancer Center Director Robert Mannel, MD said. “Today’s announcement represents a significant investment in the health of our state.”
Established in 2008, the Oklahoma Tobacco Research Center was created to improve the health of individuals, in Oklahoma and nationally, by identifying and disseminating best practices for tobacco and nicotine product prevention, control and cessation.
The five-year grant from the Tobacco Settlement Endowment Trust will support the recruitment of 10 nationally funded tobacco control researchers. Two recent recruits, Jenny Vidrine, PhD and Damon Vidrine, DrPh, specialize in developing and evaluating novel, evidence-based tobacco cessation strategies, especially among underserved populations.
Other areas of expertise to be recruited include youth tobacco use and prevention, tobacco marketing and health communication, emerging tobacco and nicotine products, and tobacco biomarkers.
Additionally, the new grant will support continued program development at the Oklahoma Tobacco Research Center. An emphasis will be placed on establishing a policy education and research arm with a goal of translating recent tobacco-related research into useful and impactful policy to decrease the burden of tobacco in Oklahoma and nationally.
This grant was approved by the TSET Board of Directors, and went into effect July 1 of this year. It replaces a current TSET grant to the Oklahoma Tobacco Research Center of $7.5 million over five years.
“This expansion continues to bring high quality research and cutting edge treatment to Oklahoma,” said Tracey Strader, TSET Executive Director. “The TSET Board of Directors continues to keep the promise to voters who created the endowment to improve the health of Oklahomans.”
TSET’s support has allowed the Stephenson Cancer Center to bring much-needed cancer-fighting resources to the state of Oklahoma including the state’s only phase I clinical trials program.
Because of such support, the Stephenson Cancer Center will be able to apply for National Cancer Institute-designation in September 2017.