Events in Review

Second Pan-Hellenic Congress for Tobacco Control. On December 8-10, 2011, the Center for Tobacco Control hosted the Second Pan-Hellenic Congress for Tobacco Control in Athens, Greece in collaboration with the Greek Ministries of Health and Education and the Hellenic Anti-Cancer Society. This Congress was held under the auspices of President Karolos Papoulias who was present at the opening ceremony. This year’s Congress focused on ways to combat the tobacco epidemic among Greek youth. Professor Gregory Connolly released during the Congress a major publication entitled The Greek Tobacco Epidemic and a new Greek-English website, smokefreegreece.org, which provide important scientific information on evidence-based programs and policies we know work to reduce smoking among youth. We are grateful for the presence at this Congress of Mr. George D. Behrakis who has generously funded our Center’s tobacco research in Greece.

Toward the end of 2011, Dr. K Viswanath served as a panel member at the NIH State-of-the-Science Conference: Role of Active Surveillance in the Management of Men with Localized Prostate Cancer. The conference was held December 5-7, 2011 in Bethesda, Maryland and focused on gathering a better understanding of the benefits and risks of active surveillance and other observational management strategies for Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA)-screening-detected, low-grade, localized prostate cancer.

Dr. Viswanath was the member of the Planning Committee of Institute of Medicine’s (IOM) Forum on Violence Prevention’s workshop, mPreventViolence: Communication and Technology for Violence Prevention. Dr. Viswanath’s session, “The Contribution of Traditional and New Media to Violence and Potential Remedies,” acknowledged and discussed the role of traditional and new media in causing violence as well as potential avenues for preventing these unintended consequences.

Viswanath Lab Honors Lawrence Students. On December 14th, 2011, Dr. Vish Viswanath and his lab members held the event “Making Connections, Celebrating Progress” to honor a group of students from Lawrence, Massachusetts for their work on Project IMPACT (Influencing Media and Public Agenda on Cancer and Tobacco Disparities). Project IMPACT aims to build capacity of community-based organizations in Lawrence to work with the media to change the way health inequities are conceptualized and covered in the press. The first phase of the project involved implementing a survey to gauge current public opinion about health and tobacco related disparities. Between August and December 2011, 16 students from Lawrence High School and Northern Essex Community College partnered with Dr. Viswanath and his team to administer approximately 935 surveys door-to-door within the community to understand how residents view disparities and what factors they feel lead to good or poor health. In addition to providing valuable data for Project IMPACT, the survey process gave students the opportunity to gain exposure to public health research. The December 14th event continued to build the students’ public health education by inviting them to the Dana Farber campus in the Longwood Medical Area. After an honors ceremony, an afternoon of activities raised students’ awareness about current and future opportunities in the field. Students interacted with a panel of researchers, including a cultural anthropologist, a thoracic oncologist, a survey methodologist, a patient navigator, and the Deputy Associate Director for the Initiative to Eliminate Cancer Disparities, to hear about career paths in public health. They also learned about more immediate opportunities through the CURE (Continuing Umbrella of Research Experiences) program, a summer program for minority high school and college undergraduate students that offers a mentored experience in cancer research. As a culminating educational experience, students will have the opportunity to ask a research question based on the survey items. Members of the Viswanath Lab will help them analyze the data and create a research poster to be displayed in their community.