A new unit within the Wayne State University School of Medicine’s Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences launched July 1 will focus solely on reducing a habit that causes more than 480,000 deaths a year.
The Nicotine and Tobacco Research Division, or NTRD, based in the Tolan Park Medical Building, provides Wayne State researchers with a hub to enhance research communication, collaboration and educational opportunities, with the ultimate goal of advancing science and enhancing the lives of tobacco users in the region.
Associate Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences David Ledgerwood, Ph.D., serves as director of the division. Dr. Ledgerwood, a clinical psychologist, has conducted research on smoking cessation intervention using funds from the National Institutes of Health. Three months ago, he brought the division idea to department Chair David Rosenberg, M.D., who agreed that the new division was timely and important.
More than 15 percent of adults in the United States smoke cigarettes, causing an estimated $300 billion in direct health care costs and lost productivity yearly, he said.
The division will encourage multidisciplinary collaboration among scientists at Wayne State University studying nicotine and tobacco use and in the broader academic community; provide a venue for addiction researchers to present their research to others; provide opportunities for trainees to connect with field experts with the goal of obtaining scientific training; and heighten the profile of nicotine and tobacco research by showcasing a variety of studies and scientific programs.
“Wayne State University has several exceptional scientists who have the common goal of studying and reducing nicotine and tobacco use. However, these researchers are spread throughout the university, in various departments, and most continue to work in silos with little cross-collaboration,” Dr. Ledgerwood wrote in the division proposal.
Associate Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, of Obstetrics and Gynecology and of the Merrill-Palmer Skillman Institute Steven Ondersma, Ph.D.; Associate Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences Leslie Lundahl, Ph.D.; and Assistant Professor of Psychology Catalina Kopetz, Ph.D., are among the division members.
“I'm planning to invite faculty across the university who do work in this area to join so that we can have a collaborative hub of experts who study the addictive properties of nicotine, and how to help people stop using tobacco products through the development of novel treatments. It would be great, as we grow, if we can incorporate more of a focus on the Detroit area and provide services to help residents of Detroit to quit smoking,” Dr. Ledgerwood said.
He also invites students of all levels to work with division members.
Dr. Ledgerwood joined the School of Medicine faculty in 2007. His overall work focuses on the treatment and etiology of substance use and behavioral addiction disorders. His recent NIH funded research has included clinical trials examining behavioral treatments for smoking cessation among individuals living with HIV and parents of teens enrolled in juvenile drug court. He is internationally recognized as an expert in the study of gambling disorder. He received his undergraduate and doctoral degrees from the University of Windsor, Ontario, and completed a Clinical Psychology Predoctoral Fellowship at the Yale University Department of Psychiatry in New Haven, Conn.