Center for Tobacco Prevention and Control Research (TPCR)


The new Center for Tobacco Prevention and Control Research is led by Melissa A. Little, PhD, MPH, its inaugural director. The Center aims to reduce tobacco-related disparities through the development and dissemination of sustainable community-based tobacco prevention and cessation interventions. Specifically, this program focuses on promoting tobacco prevention and cessation, substance abuse prevention and weight reduction among rural populations, youth, low income and active-duty military populations. Current research also focuses on reducing cancer health disparities in Appalachia through interventions to promote vaccinations and cancer screenings. The Center conducts community-engaged research projects in partnership with community-based organizations, such as community pharmacies, schools, Federally Qualified Health Centers, and Virginia Department of Health districts, as well as the U.S. military.

Key team members:

Melissa A. Little, PhD, MPH, Associate Professor, Department of Public Health Sciences

Gabrielle Laskey, MA, Research Specialist Intermediate, Department of Public Health Sciences

Abigail Wester, MPH, Research Specialist Intermediate, Department of Public Health Sciences

Christopher Dunlap, III, PhD, Postdoctoral Fellow, Department of Public Health Sciences

Primary areas of focus:

  • Tobacco prevention among youth and young adults
  • Tobacco cessation among youth, young adults, and adults
  • Reducing tobacco-related health disparities
  • Translating evidence-based interventions into communities
  • Lung cancer screening and early detection
  • Reducing rural health disparities

Key funded research projects:

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QuitAid: R01 funded through the National Cancer Institute to use a pragmatic approach, guided by the Reach, Effectiveness, Adoption, Implementation, and Maintenance (RE-AIM) framework, to identify the essential components of an effective smoking cessation program that can easily integrate within community pharmacies in underserved rural areas (R01 CA267963, PI Little).

Built Environment: R01 through the National Institute on Drug Abuse to examine behavioral and environmental influences on tobacco initiation and re-initiation among Air Force Technical Trainees following a period of forced abstinence (R01 DA043468, PI Little).

Youth Brief Tobacco Intervention: A large grant funded through the Virginia Foundation for Healthy Youth to develop and test a school-based intervention to reduce tobacco and nicotine use among high school students in Virginia (8521389, PI Little).

QuitAid FQHC: A pilot grant from the Cancer Control and Population Health (CPH) program at the University of Virginia Cancer Center to determine the feasibility of a pharmacist-delivered medication therapy management (MTM) approach to smoking cessation within Federally Qualified Health Centers to reduce tobacco-related disparities among low-income smokers (PI Little).

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I Vaccinate: A large multi-site P01 project funded by the National Cancer Institute, aimed to improve the uptake of cervical cancer prevention services and smoking cessation in Appalachia through a clinic-based integrated prevention program. Dr. Little is the state lead on a project to increase Human Papillomavirus (HPV) vaccination among adolescents within Federally Qualified Health Centers  (P01 CA229143, Site PI Anderson).

Research Collaborations:

Dr. Little is the Co-Lead of the Tobacco Action Group within the Cancer Center without Walls at the University of Virginia Cancer Center. This coalition brings together representatives from local health departments, community hospitals and cancer centers, federally qualified health centers, universities, and community-based organizations to reduce cancer disparities throughout Southwest Virginia.

Dr. Little is also involved in a large P01, Improving Uptake of Cervical Cancer Prevention Services in Appalachia, which brings together researchers from the University of Virginia, Ohio State University, University of West Virginia, and the University of Kentucky.

Dr. Little is the Co-Lead of a Public Health Partnership between the Department of Public Health at Fort Liberty (formerly Fort Bragg), the Cumberland County Department of Public Health, the North Carolina Comprehensive Cancer Care Center, and the University of Virginia Comprehensive Cancer Center. This partnership works to reduce tobacco use and food insecurity for service members and their families stationed at Fort Liberty.

Finally, Dr. Little leads a collaboration with colleagues at the Maria Sklodowska-Curie National Research Institute of Oncology in Poland. The team is currently working to translate Dr. Little’s pharmacy delivered smoking cessation research to community pharmacies throughout Poland.

Selected publications: