LITTLE ROCK — Pebbles Fagan, Ph.D., M.P.H., has been named director of the Center for the Study of Tobacco at the Fay W. Boozman College of Public Health at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS).
Fagan also will serve as a professor in the Department of Health Behavior and Health Education in the College of Public Health.
The mission of the center is to engage multiple disciplines in conducting collaborative and innovative research designed to inform public health policies and enhance interventions to reduce tobacco use. She will hire additional faculty and staff to conduct research and train and mentor students.
Fagan has more than 20 years of experience in conducting research into tobacco prevention and control and cancer prevention and control. She has an extensive background in research that aims to reduce health disparities.
She has a doctorate in health education from Texas A&M University; a Master of Public Health in health education/communication from Tulane University School of Public Health & Tropical Medicine; and a bachelor’s degree in rhetoric and communications and Afro-American studies from the University of Virginia.
For the past five years, Fagan conducted research as an associate professor in the Cancer Prevention and Control Program at the University of Hawai’i Cancer Center, University of Hawai’i at Mānoa in Honolulu. She also served for 10 years as a health scientist at the National Cancer Institute in Bethesda, Maryland; and a postdoctoral fellow at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston.
Fagan said the need for tobacco research is high because more than 400,000 people in the United States die each year from tobacco-related deaths.
“Cigarette smoking is still a big problem. In addition, the use of flavored tobacco products, like little cigars and electronic cigarettes, is increasing among our youth and young adults,” Fagan said. “We are at the dawn of a new era of policy-informing research that can protect our public from the harms of tobacco.”
She said the center will engage students and faculty and bridge academic, community and government collaborations in an effort to reduce the toll of tobacco use and exposure on vulnerable groups.
Fagan has published more than 60 peer-reviewed papers, has a track record of leading and collaborating on National Institutes of Health and foundation-funded grants, and is the project director/principle investigator on part of a grant funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse and the Food and Drug Administration. Fagan provides leadership to a team of researchers who conduct studies that use mixed-methods to understand electronic cigarette use and the unorthodox use of electronic cigarettes.
“My work on the NIH grant will help to jump-start the Center for the Study of Tobacco and help to bridge collaborations across institutions,” she said.
“Dr. Fagan has been remarkably productive in securing grants, publishing, establishing a network with other tobacco experts nationally, and developing a range of research experience from basic to more applied research,” said Jim Raczynski, Ph.D., professor and founding dean of the College of Public Health. “She will investigate important tobacco-related questions for Arkansas that can be translated into effective public health practice to reduce tobacco use and related adverse outcomes.”