JHMI Office of Communications and Public Affairs

October 15, 2001
MEDIA CONTACT: Vanessa Wasta
PHONE: 410-955-1287
E-MAIL: wastava@jhmi.edu

Tobacco Settlement Funds More than $2 Million in Cancer Research Projects at Hopkins

Governor Glendening to Visit Johns Hopkins on October 17

Does exposure to certain metals promote prostate cancer? What is the risk of getting cancer from second-hand smoke? Can a vaccine prevent cervical cancer? Johns Hopkins scientists will look for answers to these questions and others with the first distribution of funds from Johns Hopkins' share of the State of Maryland's settlement with cigarette manufacturers.

"We are taking aggressive action to close the book on Maryland's tobacco heritage and improve the health and quality of life for all Marylanders," said Governor Parris N. Glendening. "We have created programs to help farmers stop growing tobacco, we have passed laws to help protect people from second-hand smoke and we have sponsored educational and research programs across the State to find out why we have such a high cancer rate in Maryland. Projects like this one at Johns Hopkins will help us root out the causes behind this and allow us to find ways to lower both the cancer rate and the impact it has on our community." Baltimore City currently leads the state and nation in deaths due to cancer-related air pollutants and prostate cancer. Maryland consistently ranks high in incidence of cancer cases compared to other states.

"Through ongoing commitments with our legislators and the people of this state, we have an opportunity to build upon our discoveries in ways that will most benefit people in Maryland and Baltimore communities," says Martin D. Abeloff, M.D., Johns Hopkins Comprehensive Cancer Center Director. With money from the Cigarette Restitution Fund (CRF), Johns Hopkins will direct its efforts to community-focused research in lung, breast, cervical, skin, colon, oral and prostate cancer, which are among the most common and deadly cancers in Maryland.

• Nineteen scientists at Johns Hopkins have been awarded over $2.1 million under the CRF grant. Among the projects:
• Hopkins epidemiologists will evaluate a new technique to screen for breast cancer in high-risk women by examining cells from the lining of breast cancer ducts.
• Studies will be conducted on vaccines that target the human papillomavirus (HPV) to prevent development of cervical cancer.
• For men who work or reside in areas where they are exposed to high levels of cadmium, Hopkins scientists will measure levels of this metal additive, along with zinc and selenium, in prostate tissue samples to determine their effect on the development of prostate cancer.
• From a unique 30-year-old Maryland study, researchers will estimate the incidence of all types of cancers in smokers and among those exposed to cigarettes and second-hand smoke.
• Smoke is only one carcinogen; Hopkins epidemiologists also will create a list of environmental carcinogens prevalent in Maryland based on the potential for exposure and risk.

A full list of the first round of Johns Hopkins CRF Research Grants and summaries of each grant are posted at http://www.hopkinskimmelcancercenter.org/news/crfgrants.cfm.

Johns Hopkins will receive $2.25 million this year from the multimillion-dollar award to the state of Maryland. The next distribution of $3 million for translational research grants is anticipated in 2002 and 2003. The CRF also provides Hopkins and the University of Maryland each an additional $1.5 million public health grant this year for the development of community-based cancer prevention and screening programs in collaboration with Sinai Hospital and the Baltimore City Health Department.

Related Web sites:
Research Matters: A Conference on the Statewide Academic Health Centers Cancer Initiatives: http://www.hopkinskimmelcancercenter.org/news/backgrounder.cfm

Johns Hopkins Oncology Center: http://www.hopkinskimmelcancercenter.org

Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health: http://www.jhsph.edu

Department of Health and Mental Hygiene: http://mdpublichealth.org/crfp/index.cfm

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