Center for Community Health
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Current Research Projects

The Center has numerous ongoing research projects as listed below:

Community Based Physical Activity to Aid Smoking Cessation

Investigators:  Ken Ward, Shelly Stockton, Barbara McClanahan

Funder: National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (R01 HL68569)

Overview:  In partnership with the YMCA of Memphis and the Mid-South, this randomized controlled trial (called “LEAP”) will determine whether increasing physical activity, via access to a health coach and YMCA facilities, improves smoking quit rates beyond the current “state of the art” treatment of nicotine replacement plus behavioral therapy. 

Effects of Smoking Cessation and Physical Activity on Reactive Oxygen Species

Investigators: Rick Bloomer, Ken Ward

Funder: National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (supplement to R01 HL68569)

Overview:  Oxidative stress is linked to cardiovascular disease and cancer.  Using data from the LEAP clinical trial, this study will examine the joint impact of quitting smoking and increasing physical activity levels on reducing oxidative stress levels. 

Responding to the Changing Tobacco Epidemic in the Eastern Mediterranean Region

Investigators:  Wasim Maziak, Ken Ward, Fawaz Mzayek

Funder: National Institute on Drug Abuse (R01 DA024876)

Overview:  This grant is a primary funder of the work of the Syrian Center for Tobacco Studies (, which seeks to reduce the burden of tobacco use and chronic diseases in Syria and the Eastern Mediterranean region through research and scientific capacity building.  Several lines of research are being conducted, including epidemiological, clinical laboratory, and intervention studies.  Current work includes the region’s first prospective cohort trial of tobacco use initiation in children, based in Jordan; clinical laboratory studies to determine the dependence potential of waterpipe smoking; a clinical trial to evaluate the integration of smoking cessation services in primary care; and a clinical trial of behavioral treatment to assist waterpipe smokers with quitting.  We also have conducted two population-based representative household surveys of cardiovascular disease and diabetes.

Population Based Assessment of Tobacco Use After Hurricane Katrina

Investigators:  Ken Ward, Shelly Stockton, Fawaz Mzayek, George Relyea

Funder: National Institute on Drug Abuse (R21 DA021782)

Overview:  Tobacco use is closely linked to psychosocial stress but little is known about how exposure to natural disasters affects smoking rates, relapse, and initiation.  This prospective study surveyed a representative sample of New Orleans residents who were exposed to Hurricane Katrina, and compared them to Memphis residents.  Changes in tobacco use over time, and psychosocial determinants of such change, are being assessed.  

Developing a Brief Smoking Cessation/Relapse Prevention Intervention for Disaster Survivors

Investigators:  Ken Ward, Shelly Stockton, Wasim Maziak, Meghan McDevitt-Murphy,  Maggie DeBon (UT)

Funder: American Legacy Foundation

Overview:  Working with the Mid-South Chapter of the American Red Cross, this pilot project is developing a novel, brief tobacco cessation/relapse prevention intervention that can be incorporated into existing disaster relief services. 

A Theoretically Based Tobacco Dependence Measure

Investigators: Ken Ward, Wasim Maziak

Funder: Fogarty International Center, NIH (R03 TW07233)

Overview:  Several lines of evidence suggest that waterpipe use, a growing phenomenon around the world, can lead to nicotine dependence.  This project is developing a theoretically-based, psychometrically sound self-report measure to assess waterpipe dependence.

Reducing Environmental Tobacco Exposure in the Homes of Low Income Children

Investigators: Shelly Stockton, Ken Ward

Funder: The Urban Child Institute

Overview: This pilot project is developing a tailored, motivationally-based intervention to assist low income new mothers to reduce their children’s exposure to tobacco smoke.

Preventing Post-Cessation Weight Gain in Smokers at Risk of Diabetes

Investigators: Ken Ward, Shelly Stockton, Wasim Maziak

Funder: University of Memphis

Overview: Working with the University of Tennessee Family Medicine Center, the goal of this pilot study is to develop and test the acceptability and feasibility of a behavioral intervention to assist primary care patients at high risk for diabetes to quit smoking and to prevent post-cessation weight gain.

The Use of Community Based Participatory Research to Promote Activity-Friendly Neighborhoods

Investigators: Barbara McClanahan, Shelly Stockton, Ken Ward

Funder: National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (R21 ES016532)

Overview: Several features of the build environment contribute to the epidemics of physical inactivity and obesity in the U.S.  This project will build community coalitions to promote “activity friendly” housing developments.

Autosense: Quantifying Exposures to Addictive Substances and Psychosocial Stress

Investigators: Santosh Kumar, Satish Kedia, Ken Ward, George Relyea

Funder: National Institute on Drug Abuse (U01 DA023812)

Overview: This trans-disciplinary effort of computer scientists, engineers, biochemists, and social/behavioral scientists is using wireless technology to develop “real-time” methods to assess substance use and psychological stress in individuals’ natural environments.

Completed Research Projects

The Center for Community Health has administered several additional research projects that are now completed. Click on the name of the grant for a brief description and a listing of selected articles produced by the grant. All articles listed have links available to their abstract at PubMed. Please visit our faculty web pages to learn more about other recent research projects.

 International Health


             Decreasing Weight Gain in African American Preadolescent Girls 

Physical Activity

             Bio-Behavioral Risk Factors for Bone Loss In Athletes

Tobacco Use

Center for Community Health
Browning Hall 228
Memphis, TN 38152
(901) 678-1669

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Center for Community Health | Billy Mac Jones | 633 Normal St | Memphis, TN | 38152-3530 | Phone: 901-678-1714 | email
Last Updated: 3/20/12