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Tobacco and Environmental Carcinogenesis Program

Program Leaders: Robert Schnoll, PhD and Trevor Penning, PhD

The Tobacco and Environmental Carcinogenesis Program coalesces investigators who elucidate how exposure to tobacco and environmental carcinogens cause cancer and how these exposures can be mitigated by risk reduction, intervention, and communication-based intervention strategies. The Program is particularly focused on tobacco-related cancers, asbestos exposure and mesothelioma, and has a new effort in UV/light exposure and skin cancer. These research areas provide rich opportunities for inter- and intra-Programmatic research. The Program Leaders are Dr. Trevor Penning, an expert in environmental carcinogenesis, and Dr. Robert Schnoll, a leader in tobacco control, who together champion a translational and transdisciplinary vision. The scientific aims of the Program are to:

  • Elucidate the pathways underlying exposure risk (e.g., risk factors for tobacco dependence; risk of environmental exposures for mesothelioma, lung cancer and skin cancer)
  • Identify the mechanisms linking exposure to disease
  • Evaluate methods for exposure and risk reduction (e.g., tobacco cessation treatments; asbestos remediation; UV light protection)
  • Test methods of risk communication (e.g., tobacco marketing, regulatory science)

The Program engages in population and community-based research within our catchment area. It also leads transformative educational experiences across Penn and the catchment area. Seminal contributions during recent years include illustrating the potential use of low-nicotine content cigarettes as a national regulatory mechanism to reduce smoking rates and identifying novel mechanisms by which petrogenic polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons in the environment are metabolically activated.

Tobacco and Environmental Carcinogenesis Program Membership