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VCU’s Center for the Study of Tobacco Products receives prestigious prize for interdisciplinary research

Thomas Eissenberg, Ph.D., professor of health psychology and director of the Center for the Study...
Thomas Eissenberg, Ph.D., professor of health psychology and director of the Center for the Study of Tobacco Products, and Alison Breland, Ph.D., research assistant professor of health psychology and project director for the Center for the Study of Tobacco Products. (Photo by Allen Jones, University Relations)

The Center for the Study of Tobacco Products at Virginia Commonwealth University has been named the 2018 recipient of the American Psychological Association’s Prize for Interdisciplinary Team Research.

The center, part of the Department of Psychology in the College of Humanities and Sciences, brings together a multi-disciplinary team of faculty from VCU, American University of Beirut and Penn State University to develop and apply regulatory science to the evaluation of tobacco products and to train the next generation of tobacco regulatory scientists.

"We are thrilled to have been selected for this award. We feel that we have an outstanding team that is producing rigorous science needed to inform tobacco-related policy, so it is validating to see this formally acknowledged by APA,” said Alison Breland, Ph.D., project director in the Center for the Study of Tobacco Products and an assistant research professor in the Department of Psychology.

“One reason our team has been so successful is that all team members are willing to extend their interests beyond the boundaries of their discipline, and are able to collaborate effectively,” Breland said. “Working together across disciplines has led to several major findings that inform the scientific, regulatory, and public health communities about [e-cigarettes] and their effects.”

The APA Prize for Interdisciplinary Team Research recognizes an interdisciplinary research team that includes one or more psychological scientists in major roles and that has produced significant scientific work. The recipient receives $5,000 to help support its continued research.

“The scope and programmatic nature of the CSTP’s work is impressive,” the APA wrote in a letter notifying the center of the prize. “The team members readily cross the boundaries in their varied fields, which strengthens the quality and sophistication of the research. The team has a long history of productivity and impact, and its proposed research has strong potential to advance understanding of nicotine use behavior and outcomes through development of predictive models. This work also promises to guide regulatory policy in the interest of public health.”

The biennial award, created in 2016, recognizes that interdisciplinary research is becoming increasingly prominent across all areas of science, and that research that integrates approaches from more than one field can lead to new insights into complex problems and to the development of novel interventions and technologies.