Department Spotlight: Duke Center for Smoking Cessation

Center offers smoking cessation clinical trials for Duke employees, area residents

Jed Rose, Ph.D., director of the Duke Center for Smoking Cessation. Photo courtesy of the Duke Center for Smoking Cessation.
Jed Rose, Ph.D., director of the Duke Center for Smoking Cessation. Photo courtesy of the Duke Center for Smoking Cessation.

Department: Duke Center for Smoking Cessation

Years at Duke: The nicotine research program has existed at Duke since 1989. The program became the Duke Center for Smoking Cessation in 2004. 

Who they are: Faculty and staff dedicated to ending smoking addiction through research. The Center was initially funded with a grant from Phillip Morris USA and after this year will be funded with grants from the National Institutes of Health and other research funding institutions.  "I think it is highly appropriate that Duke, which is connected so strongly to a tobacco family, is a center for helping to eliminate the enormous damage caused by cigarette smoking," said Jed Rose, Ph.D., director of the center.

What they are known for:  Conducting clinical research trials that compare the success rates of different smoking cessation treatments with smokers. Rose and six other principal investigators are also gathering data about the biological mechanisms underlying nicotine addiction and  translating their findings into more effective treatments for smokers who wish to quit. Rose is one of the co-inventors of the nicotine patch, which was granted a patent in 1990 by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

Big goal: To end cigarette and tobacco-related disease. Smoking is the number one preventable cause of death in the U.S., and because cigarettes include nicotine, which is addictive, quitting is not easy. "We take away the morality and judgmental aspect of saying that addiction is the main evil. We focus instead on helping people find ways to either quit smoking or switch to cleaner forms of nicotine so that they are not damaging their bodies with all of the chemicals that occur with combustion during smoking," Rose said.

Number of employees: 46 employees at four locations: the main office in Durham and satellite offices in Raleigh, Charlotte and Winston-Salem.

What they do for you: Through LIVE FOR LIFE, Duke's employee wellness program, the Center for Smoking Cessation offers Duke staff and faculty no-cost access to a state-of-the-art research study that involves early use of the nicotine patch followed by tailored treatment based on their response to the patch. "This research study is unique because unlike other research studies, there is no placebo arm," Rose said. "Everyone is getting a tailored treatment based on cutting-edge research."

Significant achievement: Since 2004, the center has enrolled 2,396 participants in trials that have helped contribute to research about how the patch and other forms of nicotine replacement therapy assist smokers in quitting. This includes research that could help make personalized smoking cessation treatments based on genomic markers and individual behavior more readily available. "We have just finished a trial where we took people who were not reducing their smoking habit during the first week of using a nicotine patch and added different medications to their treatment to increase the chances of success," Rose said. "Until recently, there was no clinical trial data to guide this type of adaptive treatment for smoking cessation."

How they make a difference: Speeding up research to study the effectiveness of smoking cessation treatments or combinations of treatments. "Having multiple centers for recruiting participants and administering clinical trials magnifies the speed of our research," Rose said. "A study that might have taken four years to gather enough data for analysis before can now be done in one year."