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Cancer prevention expert honored for innovative tobacco research

HOUSTON - Behavioral scientist and tobacco-cessation expert, Alexander V. Prokhorov, M.D., Ph.D., at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center is the recipient of the 2011 American Society of Preventive Oncology (ASPO) Joseph W. Cullen Memorial Award for Excellence in Tobacco Research.

"I'm humbled by such a prestigious award," said Prokhorov, known for his dedication, innovative programs and collaboration with health care professionals, public health advocates and scientists across the nation. "I was particularly impressed that this year's award is being given to someone who's trying to impact younger generations through education and skill building to resist tobacco pressures so we can raise a nonsmoking generation of Americans."

The award created in memory of Joseph W. Cullen, Ph.D., former coordinator of the National Cancer Institute (NCI) Smoking Tobacco and Cancer Programs and pioneer of one of the largest tobacco intervention programs in the world, recognizes distinguished leaders in tobacco control, research, prevention and program development. The annual award honors those with programs that broadly affect public health through policy and innovative initiatives.

Colleagues admire Prokhorov's leadership as director of the Tobacco Outreach Education Program (TOEP) at MD Anderson, his novel research focused on tobacco prevention and cessation programs for teens and young adults, in educating health professionals and the public about tobacco hazards.

"Everyone at MD Anderson recognizes that Alex is a visionary and highly accomplished tobacco researcher with a deep passion and enduring commitment to seeing his science translated into the community for public benefit," said Ernest T. Hawk, M.D., vice president and head of Division of Cancer Prevention & Population Sciences at MD Anderson.

Over the past two decades, Prokhorov has tailored his research to focus on innovative tobacco prevention and cessation programs for high-risk teens and young adults. Most notable is the tobacco prevention and cessation video game, Escape with Your Life geared towards at-risk youth. Another interactive-multimedia website, ASPIRE (A Smoking Prevention Interactive Experience) has educated thousands of teens across the nation through partnerships with schools, organizations and other cancer institutes. A Spanish curriculum-based ASPIRE site geared at reaching Hispanic youth will soon launch.

Prokhorov is director of e-Health Technology, a program funded by the Duncan Family Institute for Cancer Prevention and Risk Assessment at MD Anderson that works with scientists to integrate technology into research projects that help people adopt healthier lifestyles.

"His work in the Tobacco Outreach and Education Program, the ASPIRE program and the Duncan Family Institute's e-Health core are particularly laudable and make an important difference in the lives of countless Americans every day," said Hawk.

Prokhorov's extensive research expertise has provided the opportunity to branch out over the years with programs such as Project TALK (Teens and Young Adults Acquiring Lung Cancer Knowledge) and most recently Project COMBAT, an interactive multi-media video game tailored to help soldiers avoid or stop tobacco use.

He also serves as chair of ASPO's Tobacco Special Interest Group, and is the second researcher from the institution honored with this award, which was established more than 19 years ago. ASPO's first recipient, Ellen R.Gritz, Ph.D, is professor and chair of the Department of Behavioral Science at MD Anderson.

Prokhorov will accept his award at the 35th Annual ASPO meeting on March 5, 2011, in Las Vegas. More than 300 prevention and health care experts are expected to attend the annual meeting.


Contact: Katrina R. Burton
University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center

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