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Liu receives NIH Career Award

Alan Flurry

The National Institute on Drug Abuse of the National Institutes of Health recently granted a Career Award to Jiaying Liu, assistant professor in the department of communication studies. Career Awards are given to researchers to allow time for intensive development and training in biomedical, behavioral and clinical sciences. The five-year, near $1 million grant will allow Liu to gain additional training in functional magnetic resonance imaging methods (fMRI), investigate the underlying mechanisms of nicotine addiction, and conduct a longitudinal messaging intervention among young adult e-cigarette users. The study intends to inform the FDA’s regulatory policy on e-cigarettes and improve at-risk young adults’ responsiveness to anti-tobacco public health campaign communications.

The recent surge in e-cigarette use is alarming among youth and young adults, threatening a resurgence of nicotine dependence that may reverse decades of tobacco control success. Substantial progress in the prevention and treatment of addictive behaviors has been facilitated by neuroscience findings that have improved understanding of the neurocircuitry underlying addiction. The goal of the proposed research is to identify neurobehavioral makers of nicotine use escalation and cigarette smoking initiation among young adult heavy vapers, who are at a five-fold risk of transition to cigarette smoking. Following the baseline neuroimaging assessment, a one-year public service announcement (PSA) intervention will also be conducted to offer evidence-based recommendations to improve efficacy of future anti-vaping PSA campaigns at the population level. Dr. Liu hopes that this study will provide information vital for curbing the vaping epidemic, especially among the vulnerable young adult population.

The grant includes a budget to support graduate research assistants for each of the five project years. The graduate research assistants will be trained and work in concert with Dr. Liu on participant screening and recruitment, experimental design, message design, public service announcement development, messaging intervention, data collection and analysis, as well as manuscript writing.

Congratulations to Dr. Liu on this outstanding recognition of her work, which expands UGA research into the utilization of health communication.


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