The American Heart Association will receive a five-year, $19.6 million grant from the National Institutes of Health and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s Tobacco Regulatory Science program for research on the impact of tobacco on preventable diseases and death.

The American Heart Association’s Tobacco Regulation and Addiction Center will use the grant to fund multidisciplinary research and share results with the FDA, which regulates the manufacture, distribution and marketing of tobacco products.

The association is one of 14 Tobacco Centers of Regulatory Science  that are receiving up to $53 million total for tobacco-related research in fiscal year 2013. The new TCORS program is the centerpiece of the FDA/NIH collaboration to foster research affecting tobacco regulatory science.

“Because tobacco use continues to be the number one cause of preventable disease and death in the United States, more research on its impact is absolutely essential,” said American Heart Association CEO Nancy Brown. “The American Heart Association welcomes this unprecedented opportunity to work with the NIH and FDA and the other funded Centers. Together, we can strengthen our understanding of the health risks of tobacco products that can inform, shape and support meaningful regulation and protect the public from tobacco-related disease and death.”

The grant will fund three projects studying the cardiovascular toxicity of tobacco products, cardiovascular injury due to tobacco use and the perception of tobacco use in vulnerable populations, leading to more effective communications campaigns.

Federal support also will help develop the next generation of researchers with expertise in tobacco-related cardiovascular medicine and policy.

The association’s center will be the catalyst for promoting new ideas through pilot research projects.

The American Heart Association’s Tobacco Regulation and Addiction Center is a virtual research center led by the association. It will work with a consortium of leading academic institutions, including the Boston University Medical Center, Emory University, Johns Hopkins University, New York University, Northwestern University, the University of Louisville and the University of Mississippi Medical Center.

The TCORS program brings together investigators from across the country to help develop and evaluate tobacco product regulations. It’s comprised of scientists with expertise in epidemiology, behavior, biology, medicine, economics, chemistry, toxicology, addictions, public health, communications and marketing. New research from the centers will help inform and assess the impact of FDA’s tobacco regulatory activities implemented by the Center for Tobacco Products, led by Mitch Zeller, J.D. In addition, the TCORS investigators will be able to start new research to address issues raised in today’s rapidly evolving tobacco marketplace.

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