The award will be presented to Lerman for her work on pharmacogenetic approaches to nicotine dependence treatment at the annual convention of the American College of Chest Physicians in October in Chicago.

Dr. Lerman is the Mary W. Calkins Professor in the Department of Psychiatry and the Annenberg School for Communication. She is also Director of the NIH-funded Transdisciplinary Tobacco Use Research Center at the University of Pennsylvania which translates research in neuroscience, pharmacology, and genetics to develop pharmacological therapies for nicotine dependence.

In human behavioral pharmacology studies, Lerman’s laboratory studies the effects of different medications and novel compounds on nicotine’s reinforcing effects and nicotine abstinence symptoms. Recently, she and her colleagues discovered that variation in genes in the brain’s dopamine reward pathway and in the endogenous opioid system influence how smokers respond to medications for nicotine dependence. Such research will help create targeted treatments for people to successfully quit smoking with a reduced chance of relapse.

Penn’s Transdisciplinary Tobacco Use Research Center links with Penn’s Leonard Davis Institute for Health Economics, the Annenberg School for Communication, and the Abramson Cancer Center. Through these collaborations, Lerman and her colleagues hope to increase the likelihood that emerging scientific findings are translated into practice to reduce morbidity and mortality from tobacco use.; Source: Abramson Cancer Center (ACC)