Spring 2019 Newsletter

Funding Opportunities

Tobacco Regulatory Science

R01 Clinical Trial Optional; RFA-OD-19-019
BRP contact: Rachel Grana Mayne
Posted: February 21, 2019
Expires: February 14, 2021

Updates to NIH Policy on ESI Application Status

NIH recognizes there are cases in which a Program Director/Principal Investigator may need to update and/or request an extension of the PI’s Early Stage Investigator (ESI) status after the submission of an application. To minimize the need for such manual change requests, while still allowing consideration of ESI status at the time of a funding decision, NIH is now automatically updating the ESI status of an application within eRA Commons under certain circumstances. Details »

In the News

U.K. clinical trial comparing e-cigarettes and nicotine replacement products for smoking cessation highlighted in NCI’s Cancer Currents blog

In a Cancer Currents blog post, BRP Program Director Rachel Grana Mayne discussed the implications of  a randomized control trial published in February in the New England Journal of Medicine. The study, conducted in the United Kingdom, examined the efficacy of refillable, tank-style e-cigarettes compared to nicotine replacement therapies (NRT) for smoking cessation; all participants received face-to-face smoking cessation counseling. Smokers assigned to use e-cigarettes quit smoking cigarettes at a higher rate than smokers assigned to use NRT (18% and 9.9%, respectively), but were more likely to still be using their assigned product at one-year follow-up (80% and 9%, respectively). Dr. Grana Mayne explained that study findings will need to be replicated in other settings and contexts. Additionally, the high level of prolonged use of e-cigarettes emphasizes the need to understand their potential long-term health effects.

Cancer patients more likely to quit smoking for good with extended varenicline cycles

A Reuters exit disclaimer article featured the work of BRP grantees Robert Schnoll and Brian Hitsman and collaborators. Their study, published in Psycho-Oncology, found that cancer survivors may benefit from a 24-week extended cycle of the smoking-cessation medication varenicline, compared to the standard 12-week course. BRP Program Director Stephanie Land, who was not involved in the study, offered comments in the Reuters article, reiterating the importance of smoking cessation in cancer survivors.

Researchers examining effects of childhood cancer treatment

A recent feature article in Science Magazine exit disclaimer highlighted the efforts underway to understand and mitigate the long-term effects of treatments for childhood cancer. Among the researchers highlighted was BRP grantee Kiri Ness, who has studied frailty, cellular senescence, and other biomarkers of aging and is a steering committee member of the Cancer and Accelerated Aging initiative led by NCI, the National Institute on Aging, and collaborators. In the article, Dr. Ness discusses her work at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and her observations of cancer survivors who appeared much older than they were, inside and out. “ ‘They look like old people,’ she remembers thinking about the adults in their 20s, 30s, and 40s,” the article says. “ ‘They have wrinkled skin, they walk slowly, they're weak, they have characteristic gait patterns that mostly elderly people have.’ ”

Three perspectives on cancer-related cognitive impairment (CRCI)

BRP Program Director Todd Horowitz was one of three experts who weighed in for a Neurology Advisor article exit disclaimer on the phenomenon sometimes called “chemobrain,” formally referred to as chemotherapy-induced or cancer-related cognitive impairment (CRCI). He explained its cognitive effects and potential underlying mechanisms, recommended future research areas, and offered key takeaways for clinicians. “The first thing that clinicians should know is that CRCI … is a real phenomenon,” Dr. Horowitz said. “A wealth of evidence from patient reports, neuropsychological testing, and structural and functional brain imaging shows changes to brain function that can last months or years after chemotherapy.” Read about BRP’s work and interest in CRCI »

Scientific Advances

Emotion, information gaps, and multi-person decision-making may bias affective predictions in palliative care

Recent BRP fellow Erin Ellis led a conceptual review paper with BRP Program Directors Rebecca Ferrer and Wendy Nelson, BRP Senior Scientist Jerry Suls, and extramural collaborators. They describe how affective predictions, or what people think they and others will feel in the future, may serve as a barrier to optimal palliative care delivery. Their systematic search found that affective predictions in the palliative care context “are complicated by intense emotions, inadequate prognostic information, involvement of many individuals, and cancer's effect on non-health life domains.” The authors suggest that applying decision-science frameworks may help promote early integration of palliative care services.

Ellis, E.M., Barnato, A.E., Chapman, G.B., Dionne-Odom, J.N., Lerner, J.S., Peters, E., Nelson, W.L., Padgett, L., Suls, J., Ferrer, R.A. Towards a conceptual model of affective predictions in palliative care. J Pain Symptom Manage (2019).

Depression may make exercise feel more difficult

In a study of 106 post-surgery breast cancer patients, BRP Featured Grantee Janice Kiecolt-Glaser and collaborators measured self-rated exertion and heart rate during an exercise test, and evaluated the women for depression. They found that women with elevated depressive symptoms rated exercise as more difficult than women without them did, despite the groups’ having similar heart rates. Their findings “support the use of depression screening tools following breast cancer surgery to identify and intervene on individuals at risk for decreased physical activity during survivorship.”

Padin, A.C., Wilson, S.J., Bailey, B.E., Malarkey, W.B., Lustberg, M.B., Farrar, W.B., Povoski, S.P., Agnese, D.M., Reinbolt, R.E., Wesolowski, R., Williams, N., Sardesai, S., Ramaswamy, B., Noonan, A.M., Vandeusen, J.B., Haas, G.J., Kiecolt-Glaser, J.K. Physical Activity After Breast Cancer Surgery: Does Depression Make Exercise Feel More Effortful than It Actually Is? Int J Behav Med (2019).

Older patients willing to trade quality of life for survival are more likely to express 100% certainty they’ll be cured

A team including BRP grantees Supriya Mohile, Ronald Epstein, Paul Duberstein, and the late Arti Hurria sought to examine the prevalence and correlates in older patients with advanced cancer of absolute certainty about curability (ACC), or the 100% belief that their cancer would go away and never come back. They found that 5.3% of the 524 assessed patients reported ACC, and that it “was more common among patients who were willing to trade [quality of life] for survival.”

Loh, K.P., Mohile, S.G., Epstein, R.M., McHugh, C., Flannery, M., Culakova, E., Lei, L., Wells, M., Gilmore, N., Babu, D., Whitehead, M.I., Dale, W., Hurria, A., Wittink, M., Magnuson, A., Conlin, A., Thomas, M., Berenberg, J., Duberstein, P.R. Willingness to bear adversity and beliefs about the curability of advanced cancer in older adults. Cancer (2019).

Support, funding drive decisions to continue, end prevention programs

BRP grantee Ross Brownson and collaborators conducted a cross-sectional study of 400 local public health practitioners in Australia, Brazil, China, and the United States to describe the occurrence of mis-implementation, or “the premature termination or inappropriate continuation of public health programs,” specifically looking at evidence-based chronic disease prevention programs. They found that decisions to continue or end such programs were often based on program popularity and funding rather than on effectiveness. They recommend improvements to programmatic decision-making policies and practices, as well as future studies on the various drivers of mis-implementation.

Furtado, K.S., Budd, E.L., Armstrong, R., Pettman, T., Reis, R., Sung-Chan, P., Wang, Z., Brownson, R.C. A cross-country study of mis-implementation in public health practice. BMC Public Health (2019).

Special publications highlight work from NCI-funded initiative

March saw the publication of two scholarly products that highlight studies undertaken as part of the Population Health Assessment in Cancer Center Catchment Areas P30 administrative supplement initiative: A special Focus Issue of Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention (CEBP) and a special section of The Journal of Rural Health. The initiative is led by BRP’s Health Communication and Informatics Research Branch, and both publications include articles co-authored by BRP Program Director Kelly Blake and Division of Cancer Control and Population Sciences (DCCPS) Director Robert Croyle. Read all of the articles from each here:

Mismatches found in media coverage of cancer research

How does online media coverage of U.S. government-funded journal articles on cancer vary by cancer type and stage of the cancer control continuum? How does the amount of funded research published for each cancer type and the amount of media attention each receives compare with its disease prevalence rate? BRP fellow Melinda Krakow and colleagues conducted a cross-sectional study of 11,436 journal articles and found that just 16.8% (n=1,925) were covered in the media, and that “media mentions were not proportional to actual public cancer burden nor volume of scientific publications in each cancer category.” For example, breast cancer, which was the most-published-on type of cancer despite causing fewer deaths than lung, colon and rectal, and pancreatic cancers, was also the most-mentioned type in online media.

Maggio, L.A., Ratcliff, C.L., Krakow, M., Moorhead, L.L., Enkhbayar, A., Alperin, J.P. Making headlines: an analysis of US government-funded cancer research mentioned in online media. BMJ Open (2019).

Laws may boost adolescent physical activity

An all-BRP team examined the associations of school neighborhood environment factors and state laws with physical activity (PA) in a national adolescent sample, and how school neighborhood socioeconomic status (SES) moderates those associations. They found that on average, high school youth who resided in states with strong physical education (PE) time requirements (i.e., public school districts must provide PE for 90 minutes or more per week) reported significantly higher frequency of physical activity during school hours (0.27 points higher) than those in states with weak PE time requirements. Results were independent of respondents’ individual, psychosocial, and school neighborhood built environment characteristics and were similar across school neighborhood SES levels. “Our findings provide further support for state laws to promote PA in school regardless of school neighborhood SES,” wrote the team, which was led by fellow Lilian Perez and also included Program Directors David Berrigan, April Oh, and Frank Perna and BRP collaborator Laura Dwyer. Their study used data from two free, open-access NCI resources: Classification of Laws Associated with School Students (CLASS) and the Family Life, Activity, Sun, Health, and Eating (FLASHE) study.

Perez, L.G., Oh, A., Dwyer, L.A., Perna, F.M., Berrigan, D. School contextual correlates of physical activity among a national adolescent sample. Prev Med Rep (2019).

A look back at 40 years of BSSR at NIH

Over the past 40 years, NIH-supported behavioral and social sciences research (BSSR) has played an important role in the evolution of behavioral medicine as a scientific field. A retrospective article by BRP Branch Chief Susan Czajkowski and Associate Director William Klein, DCCPS Director Robert Croyle, and collaborators in the NIH Office of Behavioral and Social Sciences Research (OBSSR) and the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute highlights some of the key events, programs, projects, and milestones along the way. Topics covered include the creation of OBSSR in 1995; the role of NIH-supported behavioral research in addressing public health challenges, such as developing, testing, and disseminating effective tobacco control programs; and the role of NIH behavioral scientists in advancing rigorous research methods, promoting basic and translational research through OppNet and other initiatives, and facilitating the use of innovative methodologies in measurement, data collection, and analysis.

Czajkowski, S.M., Riley, W.T., Stoney, C.M., Klein, W.M.P., Croyle, R.T. Key milestones during 40 years of behavioral medicine at the National Institutes of Health. J Behav Med (2019).

Special issue lays out future directions for minority health and health disparities research

The National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities led a two-year transdisciplinary science visioning process that resulted in 30 new research strategies to “chart a new course to advance the science of minority health and health disparities,” culminating with a special issue of the American Journal of Public Health exit disclaimer published in January. Among those involved in the process was BRP Program Director Tanya Agurs-Collins, who led a paper on multilevel interventions. “We urge researchers to prioritize building transdisciplinary teams and the skills needed to overcome the challenges in designing and assessing multilevel interventions, as even small contributions can accelerate progress toward improving minority health and reducing health disparities,” she and collaborators wrote. “To make substantial progress, however, a concerted and strategic effort, including work to advance analytic techniques and measures, is needed.”

Agurs-Collins, T., Persky, S., Paskett, E.D., Barkin, S.L., Meissner, H.I., Nansel, T.R., Arteaga, S.S., Zhang, X., Das, R., Farhat, T. Designing and Assessing Multilevel Interventions to Improve Minority Health and Reduce Health Disparities. Am J Public Health (2019).

Associations of smoking or vaping with wheezing and related respiratory symptoms

Tobacco Centers of Regulatory Science (TCORS) grantees at the University of Rochester and their colleagues at Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center analyzed adult data from Wave 2 (2014–2015) of the Population Assessment of Tobacco and Health (PATH) study to examine the association of e-cigarette use with self-reported wheezing and related respiratory symptoms, in comparison to associations for cigarette smoking and for using both cigarettes and e-cigarettes. The authors concluded that current e-cigarette users had a higher risk of such symptoms than non-users, though a lower risk than current cigarette smokers or dual users. “Both dual use and smoking significantly increased the risk of wheezing and related respiratory symptoms,” they wrote.

Li, D., Sundar, I.K., McIntosh, S., Ossip, D.J., Goniewicz, M.L., O'Connor, R.J., Rahman, I. Association of smoking and electronic cigarette use with wheezing and related respiratory symptoms in adults: cross-sectional results from the Population Assessment of Tobacco and Health (PATH) study, wave 2. Tob Control (2019).

TUS-CPS data used to examine state-specific smoking cessation behaviors among adult smokers

Researchers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and BRP Program Director Yvonne Prutzman collaborated to describe state-level variation in cessation behaviors among adult cigarette smokers using data from the 2014–2015 Tobacco Use Supplement to the Current Population Survey (TUS-CPS). Previous studies describing adult cigarette smokers’ cessation behaviors have primarily used national-level data, which does not allow for examination of differences at the state level. The study assessed four specific cessation behaviors: interest in quitting; past-year quit attempts; recent smoking cessation; and receipt of a medical doctor’s advice to quit. The prevalence of these behaviors varied substantially by state. The observed state-level differences are important because they highlight potential opportunities to help more smokers to quit. 

Wang T.W., Walton, K., Jamal, A., Babb, S.D., Schecter, A., Prutzman, Y.M., King, B.A. State-Specific Cessation Behaviors Among Adult Cigarette Smokers — United States, 2014–2015. Prev Chronic Dis (2019).

Harm perceptions and tobacco use initiation among US youth

It is important to monitor tobacco product harm perceptions among youth to understand if these perceptions are associated with use behavior. A group of researchers, including BRP Program Director Annette Kaufman, examined data from U.S. youth ages 12–17 from Waves 1 and 2 of the Population Assessment of Tobacco and Health (PATH) Study. Findings showed that perceptions about the harm and addictiveness of tobacco products significantly increased between Wave 1 and Wave 2 for all products. Furthermore, results showed that there appears to be a bidirectional relationship between harm perceptions and product use among U.S. youth.

Strong, D.R., Leas, E., Elton-Marshall, T., Wackowski, O.A., Travers, M., Bansal-Travers, M., Hyland, A., White, M., Noble, M., Cummings, K.M., Taylor, K., Kaufman, A.R., Choi, K., Pierce, J.P. Harm perceptions and tobacco use initiation among youth in Wave 1 and 2 of the Population Assessment of Tobacco and Health (PATH) Study. Prev Med (2019).

Submit papers on early-phase translational research

Health Psychology is seeking papers for a special issue on early-phase translational research in health psychology and behavioral medicine, which will be co-guest-edited by BRP Branch Chief Susan Czajkowski. “The issue will highlight exemplars of early-phase translational behavioral research; discuss new models, frameworks and approaches that can facilitate this research; identify avenues for generating creative new ideas that are ‘ripe’ for translation; and describe how individual researchers, their collaborative teams, and institutional structures can nurture and sustain the basic-to-clinical behavioral research ‘pipeline,’ ” says the call for papers.

Awards and Recognitions

NCI paper recognized among journal’s Top 3 of 2018

At the American Society of Preventive Oncology’s annual meeting in March, a paper by BRP Program Director Kelly Blake and BRP collaborator Anna Gaysynsky, DCCPS Director Robert Croyle, and other NCI co-authors was highlighted as one of the Top 3 papers published last year in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention (CEBP), a publication of the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR). The paper, titled “Making the Case for Investment in Rural Cancer Control: An Analysis of Rural Cancer Incidence, Mortality, and Funding Trends,” calls for new research and investment to better understand rural-urban disparities in cancer and “make a meaningful difference in reducing the burden of cancer in rural populations.”

Fellow chosen as MIPS XVIII Scholar

BRP fellow Melissa Trevino was selected as a MIPS XVIII Scholar for the Medical Image Perception Society’s (MIPS) 2019 conference, which will be held this July in Salt Lake City, Utah. Dr. Trevino will attend the conference and present a talk titled “The ‘Gist’ in Prostate Volumetric Imaging.”

Three BRP Cancer Prevention Fellows selected as CRAFT awardees

The Cancer Research Award for Fellows in Training (CRAFT) initiative provides funding for DCCPS fellows to conduct primary data collection using NCI’s Human Systems Integration (HSI) lab. Of the five 2019 award recipients, three are Cancer Prevention Fellows in the Behavioral Research Program.

NIH OBSSR seeks input on health/public health accomplishments

The NIH Office of Behavioral and Social Sciences Research (OBSSR) is seeking input from the research and health/public health communities to help inform a list of impactful public health and health care accomplishments and contributions resulting from behavioral and social sciences research (BSSR). (Note: The list will not be limited to NIH-funded research.) To participate, visit OBSSR’s IdeaScale website exit disclaimer to submit comments, browse and respond to comments that have already been submitted, and vote for favorites, all by the deadline of Wednesday, July 31, 2019, at midnight ET. For more information, contact OBSSRnews@mail.nih.gov.

Career and Training Opportunities

TCRB Program Director position

BRP invites letters of interest from candidates with a Ph.D. or equivalent and experience in tobacco control research, especially in tobacco cessation, to serve as a Program Director (Health Scientist Administrator) in the Tobacco Control Research Branch. Program Directors support external researchers, develop funding opportunities, conduct and present studies, and more. Read the position description »

HCIRB Program Director position

BRP invites letters of interest from cancer communication researchers with a Ph.D. or equivalent to serve as a Program Director (Health Scientist Administrator) in the Health Communication and Informatics Research Branch. Read the position description »

FELLOWSHIP: DCCPS Office of the Director

DCCPS invites applications from candidates with a graduate degree in public health, epidemiology, data sciences, or a related discipline to work in its Office of the Director and support coordination, planning, evaluation, and analysis of various programmatic, scientific, and planning activities across DCCPS, including strategic planning and implementation processes. Read the position description »

FELLOWSHIPS: NCI Cancer Prevention Fellowship Program

Cancer Prevention Fellows conduct up to four years of mentored, multidisciplinary research in cancer prevention while working in NCI programs of their choosing, including BRP. The program offers an opportunity to earn an M.P.H. sponsored by NCI. Applicants must have an M.D., Ph.D., or other doctoral degree, or complete one before the start of the fellowship. The 2020 application cycle is open now through August 19, 2019. Visit the program website »


Annual Report to the Nation

The 2019 Annual Report to the Nation on the Status of Cancer shows continued declines in cancer mortality rates for men, women, and children. It reports cancer incidence rates decreasing in men and remaining stable for women. The Report also describes continuing racial and ethnic disparities in cancer mortality and incidence. This year's Special Section focuses on cancer trends among adults ages 20 to 49. For women in that age group, the most common cancers were found to be breast, thyroid, and melanoma of the skin, with breast cancer far exceeding any of the other cancers. For the men, it was colorectal, testicular, and melanoma of the skin. The Annual Report is a collaborative effort among researchers from NCI, CDC, the American Cancer Society, and the North American Association of Central Cancer Registries. View the report » exit disclaimer

Resources for Researchers search tool

Resources for Researchers is an online directory of NCI-supported cancer research tools and services that consolidates access to resources from across NCI. The tool, which offers a progressive filtering search function, currently features more than 230 resources that were developed and maintained by NCI scientists or were created with grant funding. Most resources are free and available to anyone. Get started »

Protocol template for behavioral and social sciences research involving humans

NIH recently developed a resource to assist behavioral and social science researchers in preparing research protocols for human studies measuring a behavioral or social outcome or testing a behavioral or social science-based intervention. The Behavioral and Social Clinical Trials Template was derived from the successful NIH-FDA Phase 2/3 IND-IDE Clinical Trial Template, but it was adapted to include terminology and approaches used by behavioral and social scientists. It also is fully integrated into the NIH’s Clinical e-Protocol Writing Tool, allowing users to seamlessly send and edit protocol information directly to clinicaltrials.gov. Learn more in a blog post co-authored by the directors of the NIH Office of Science Policy and the NIH Office of Behavioral and Social Sciences Research, explaining the advantages of using the protocol template. Get the template »

2018 DCCPS Overview and Highlights

The 2018 issue of Overview and Highlights describes the DCCPS key research initiatives that are responsive to the Cancer Moonshot℠ Blue Ribbon Panel Report recommendations and represent critical research opportunities poised for acceleration across the cancer control continuum. The issue also includes details on other research priority areas for the division, the current grant portfolio and funding trends, opportunities for researchers, and key facts and figures from the year. Read about it »

The Cancer Trends Progress Report is a key source of national trend data across a spectrum of cancer control measures, including tobacco use, smoking cessation, diet, physical activity, and UV exposure and sun-protective behaviors.  From prevention to end of life, the updated progress report offers trends by sex, age, race, ethnicity, and income and education level, and displays them in relation to Healthy People 2020 targets, where available. View measures and generate custom reports »

New TUS-CPS harmonized dataset and website

The Tobacco Use Supplement to the Current Population Survey (TUS-CPS) is an NCI-sponsored survey of tobacco use that has been administered as part of the U.S. Census Bureau's Current Population Survey approximately every 3-4 years since 1992-93.  Variables with data found across currently available waves (1992-2015) of TUS-CPS were recently harmonized into a single public-use dataset. Harmonized topics include cigarette use (including daily and some-day smokers, and use of menthol cigarettes), workplace and home smoking restrictions, attitudes toward smokefree policies, receipt of advice to quit by physician/dentist, health perceptions/beliefs, and other tobacco product use. Learn more about the survey and view presentations from a 2019 user workshop »

NCCOR 2018 Annual Report

The National Collaborative on Childhood Obesity Research (NCCOR) exit disclaimer has made major strides in addressing childhood obesity in America since its launch in 2008. The 2018 Annual Report, “A Decade of Transforming Childhood Obesity Research,” chronicles the accomplishments of this public-private partnership. Among the 2018 milestones are the update of more than 70 systems in the Catalogue of Surveillance Systems and the development of materials to reach new audiences such as students and PE teachers. Read the report » exit disclaimer


June 19-20 – NIH Pathways to Prevention (P2P) Workshop

Participate in the upcoming NIH Pathways to Prevention (P2P) workshop on June 19-20 at the Natcher Conference Center on NIH’s Main Campus. This year’s theme, “Achieving Health Equity in Preventive Services,” focuses on identifying and addressing research gaps related to the use of clinical preventive services to prevent cancer, heart disease, and diabetes. Specifically, the workshop will address ten preventive services, including aspirin use to prevent colorectal cancer, screening for breast, cervical, colorectal, and lung cancer, and behavioral and pharmacotherapy interventions for tobacco smoking cessation. A WebEx option is available for remote participation. Learn more and register »

June 23 – Application deadline for NIH Training Institute for Dissemination and Implementation Research in Health

NCI, in coordination with several NIH Institutes and Centers and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, is hosting this training institute to provide participants with a thorough grounding in conducting dissemination and implementation (D&I) research across all areas of health and health care. The training includes a 5-month online course between September 2019 and January 2020 and culminates in a 2-day in-person training in Bethesda, Maryland, on January 23-24, 2020. The program is designed for doctoral-level investigators at any career stage interested in conducting D&I research. Learn more and apply » exit disclaimer

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Last Updated
September 24, 2020