FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE        Connecticut Department of Public Health

October 26, 2010                                 Contact:  William Gerrish

                                                             (860) 509-7270



Hartford –Senator Joseph Crisco (D-Woodbridge) and the Department of Public Health today announced the recipients of state funding for biomedical research projects into tobacco-related illnesses.  A total of $2,327,305 was awarded this year by the Connecticut Department of Public Health (DPH) from the Biomedical Research Trust Fund.  These funds will support eight research projects conducted by Connecticut universities.


“While we have made considerable progress in the area of tobacco use prevention, tobacco-related illnesses continue to be the leading causes of disability and death,” stated Senator Crisco, sponsor of legislation in 2005 creating the Biomedical Trust Fund.  “This research is helping to shine new light on how tobacco use contributes to chronic diseases, and moves us forward in the effort to save lives of those stricken with cancer, heart disease, and other smoking-related diseases, which are leading causes of death in Connecticut.”


The sixth round of funding of $2,327,305 to these eight biomedical research projects is a positive indication that Connecticut is moving forward with a strong commitment to carrying out the goals of the biomedical research bill, and that is to use a portion of the tobacco settlement funding to provide funding for research efforts to help fight cancer, heart disease, and other diseases that may be linked to smoking,” said Senator Crisco.  “I want to express my gratitude to DPH Deputy Commissioner Gyle for her efforts, and Governor Rell and legislative leaders of their support of this important health care program.”


“This year eight outstanding proposals were selected from a field of 17 highly competitive applications the department received in response to its request for proposals,” stated DPH Deputy Commissioner Norma Gyle, R.N., Ph.D.  “We are very pleased with the quality of proposals and the important work that is being done to fight tobacco-related illness.”


According to state health officials, tobacco is the single most preventable cause of mortality and morbidity in our society.  In Connecticut, tobacco use is associated with over 5,000 deaths per year.  These deaths are primarily caused by cancer, heart disease and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.  Tobacco also causes secondary adverse health effects to nonsmokers exposed to environmental tobacco smoke.  Exposure to environmental tobacco smoke is a significant cause of morbidity in children that manifests itself in diseases such as asthma, bronchitis and pneumonia.  Furthermore, tobacco use has significant medical costs.  In 2001, estimated annual health expenditures in Connecticut directly related to tobacco use totaled $12.2 billion or about $400 per capita.


With this sixth round of proposals funded by DPH, nearly $10,061,324 has been awarded to Connecticut research institutions for the purposes of biomedical research into tobacco-related illnesses.  Pursuant to Connecticut Public Act 2000-216 Section 17, the Department of Public Health will solicit proposals to provide grants-in-aid for biomedical research in the fields of heart disease and cancer as well as tobacco-related diseases.  


In 2005, the first awards were given to Yale University and UCONN Health Center pursuant to Sec 19a-32c:  “Biomedical Research Trust Fund.  Transfers from Tobacco Settlement Fund.  Grants-in-aid.”  Applications were accepted form Connecticut-based, non-profit, tax-exempt academic institutions and hospitals that conduct biomedical research.


The Connecticut Department of Public Health is the state’s leader in public health policy and advocacy with a mission to protect and promote the health and safety of the people of our state.  To contact the department, please visit its website at or call (860) 509-7270.




Connecticut Department of Public Health

Biomedical Trust Fund Awards



Dr. Manju Hingorani of Wesleyan University was awarded $165,083 to promote understanding of the mechanisms whereby DNA mismatch repair suppresses carcinogenesis and development of refractory cancers.


Dr. Laijun Lai of the UCONN Health Center was awarded $439,243 to conduct preclinical studies in mice to determine whether the induction of tumor-specific immunity to melanoma and colon cancer by rIL-7/HBFß protein can protect against established and recurrent tumors, whether immune cells other than T cells and dendritic cells may be involved, or a newly developed human form of rIL-7.


Dr. Joel Pachter of the UCONN Health Center was awarded $246,290 to determine how cigarette smoking affects the brain’s ability to sustain its blood vessel supply in the context of normal aging.


Dr. Quing Zhu of the UCONN Health Center was awarded $309,625 to develop a novel hypoxia probe and the associated imaging hardware for directly mapping tumor hypoxia of preclinical tumor models in mice.


Dr. Richard Everson from the UCONN Health Center was awarded $283,934 to demonstrate the extent that comprehensive genomic analyses of clinical specimens, which as the formalin-fixed, paraffin-embedded tissues that would be available through a statewide Biobank, can be conducted successfully and can provide molecular data similar to that provided by cryopreserved tissues now widely used for genomic research.


Dr. Kimberly Dodge-Kafka from the UCONN Health Center was awarded $245,885 to identify and define a novel signaling complex in the heart, as well as target this complex for the treatment of the failing heart myocyte.


Dr. Richard Bruno from the University of Connecticut was awarded $303,190 to decrease cardiovascular disease risk by identifying how smoking cessation improves vascular function and defining gamma-tocopherol as a novel co-therapy that enable smoking cessation to more fully restored vascular function.


Dr. Smita Sampath from Yale University was awarded $334,055 to identify non-invasive magnetic resonance imaging markers to assess peripheral artery disease (PAD) and perform initial testing in porcine animal models of PAD.