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Meharry center launches e-cigarette study

Meharry Medical College, the nation's largest private, independent historically black academic health sciences center, launched the Meharry Center for the Study of Social Determinants of Health. Dedicated to examining social factors that influence public health and wellbeing, the Center's first initiative will be research and community outreach programs related to the emerging prevalence of e-cigarettes, as well as tobacco and other nicotine-delivery products, particularly in minority communities. This work will be made possible by a five-year, $7.5 million independent research grant from JUUL Labs, Inc.

Meharry Medical College  is one of the black colleges supported by the Black College Fund  which provides financial support to maintain solid, challenging academic programs; strong faculties; and well-equipped facilities.

"Meharry is driven by a mission to improve the health of underserved communities, yet we have historically found ourselves occupying the last seat at the table when research is conducted on emerging public health issues that affect our patients," said Dr. James E.K. Hildreth, president and CEO of Meharry Medical College. "The new Center for the Study of Social Determinants of Health will advance our efforts to understand the impact of larger societal issues on health and wellbeing, and there are few issues requiring more research today than the rising prevalence of e-cigarettes, including how they affect young people."

"The grant from JUUL Labs gives Meharry the unique opportunity to take the lead on a new line of fully independent research in this critical area of public health," Hildreth continued. "Smoking has had disproportionately negative effects on minority, and particularly African-American, populations for decades. At Meharry, we have been on the front lines of treating those impacted by this scourge and see firsthand how smoking can destroy lives. Our goal is to help set a new course for education, prevention and policy surrounding the use of tobacco and e-cigarettes."

As part of the grant by JUUL Labs, the Center's first initiative will involve three primary areas of focus:
conduct original and independent research on the public health impact of tobacco and nicotine-delivery products,
convene annual meetings to drive a national conversation on tobacco and nicotine-delivery products, and
develop public health campaigns to educate the public about the dangers that tobacco and nicotine-delivery products pose to youth.

"Understanding the impact of our products on public health is critical to fulfilling our mission," said Kevin Burns, CEO of JUUL Labs. "We selected Meharry for this grant because of the college's deep expertise in health disparities research, and its commitment to serving underserved and vulnerable populations who have been disproportionately impacted by smoking. We exist to eliminate cigarettes and improve the lives of the world's one billion smokers. In order to achieve that mission, we must learn more about the public health impact of e-cigarettes. We respect Meharry's focus on bettering the health of the public at large and we are honored to support the Center for the Study of Social Determinants of Health."

excerpt from a News release, Meharry Medical College, Nashville, TN

One of seven apportioned giving opportunities of The United Methodist Church, the Black College Fund provides financial support to maintain solid, challenging academic programs; strong faculties; and well-equipped facilities at 11 United Methodist-related historically black colleges and universities. Please encourage your leaders and congregations to support the Black College Fund apportionment at 100 percent.

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