A Marshall University researcher has received new funding from the National Institutes of Health to explore how tobacco flavorants alter nicotine addiction.

Brandon J. Henderson, Ph.D., an assistant professor in the department of biomedical sciences at the Marshall University Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine, was awarded an Exploratory/Developmental Research Grant Award (R21) from the U.S. Food & Drug Administration and the National Institute on Drug Abuse (an agency of the National Institutes of Health), a program designed to encourage exploratory/developmental research by providing support for the early and conceptual stages of project development.

Henderson’s two-year grant totaling $405,000 will focus on identifying a biomarker to test which tobacco flavors enhance nicotine addiction and abuse liability.

“There is a fundamental gap in the understanding of how tobacco flavors alter nicotine addiction,” Henderson said. “Since electronic cigarettes and the like offer a multitude of flavors, there is a critical need to understand how these flavors alter nicotine addiction. Until this knowledge gap is closed, we face the risk of increased smoking initiation, decreased cessation and a cumulative effect of a growing population of lifelong smokers in America.”

Despite smoking cessation efforts nationwide, cigarette smoking still kills more than 480,000 Americans each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Given the increasing popularity of electronic cigarettes, especially among the youth population, there is an increased need to understand how additives to these products affect public health. Much of Henderson’s research is dedicated to nicotine addiction.

Originally from Sheanna Spence for Marshall University Communications