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Researcher Receives Grant to Improve Future Smoking Cessation Outcomes

Researcher Receives Grant to Improve Future Smoking Cessation Outcomes

Published: Thursday, May 12, 2022

OKLAHOMA CITY – Jason Oliver, PhD, a researcher at the TSET Health Promotion Research Center (HPRC) at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center, recently received a four-year R01 grant for $2,058,450 from the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NDA). This study will focus on how cravings sparked by a smoker’s surroundings can be minimized with propranolol, a widely-used blood pressure medication not typically provided in smoking cessation programs. Oliver will be collaborating with researchers from Oklahoma State University and Duke University on this study.
More than 50% of smokers attempt to quit smoking each year, but even with intensive treatment, the overwhelming majority will return to smoking within six months. There is a tremendous need for improved smoking cessation interventions. Traditional smoking cessation medications are very effective for alleviating nicotine withdrawal, but much less effective at addressing the influence of environment on smoking despite recognition that environment often plays an important role in whether someone is able to quit successfully. This project will use an MRI to determine the effects of propranolol – alone or when combined with nicotine patch – on how the brain responds to specific environments that might trigger smoking relapse. Results will help researchers better understand the mechanisms responsible for relapse and provide information on how propranolol or similar drugs could best be used in a clinical setting.
Oliver’s lab and research focuses on concepts and methods to help understand why people engage in unhealthy behaviors and develops novel behavioral and pharmacological interventions to help people lead healthier lives. To that end, he is developing and testing interventions that could decrease the impact the environment has on smoking behavior. A primary goal of this research is to help smokers to cope with the nicotine cravings they experience when they are in places they used to smoke or when they are around other smokers.
Results from this study will directly inform the development of a new line of pharmacological agents for smoking cessation and provide a deeper understanding of mechanisms that can be used to help refine future clinical trials.
This research is primarily supported by the National Institute of Drug Abuse (R01DA053342), with additional support from the Oklahoma Tobacco Settlement Endowment Trust Grant R22-02, and the OU Stephenson Cancer Center’s NCI Cancer Center via a Cancer Center Support Grant (P30CA225520).