The Johns Hopkins Gazette: April 17, 2000
April 17, 2000
VOL. 29, NO. 32


Tobacco Funds Are Allotted

By Greg Rienzi
The Gazette
Johns Hopkins Gazette Online Edition

The Johns Hopkins Institutions have been allocated $13.75 million in fiscal year 2001 as the state begins to portion out its share of the national tobacco settlement. Maryland is expected to receive about $4 billion over 25 years.

The General Assembly in Annapolis voted last week to give final approval for the tobacco legislation, known as Senate Bill 896.

Of the Hopkins funds, $3.75 million is earmarked for cancer research, treatment and education and $10 million for research facilities at the schools of Medicine and Public Health.

The funds for facilities represent the first of a three-year commitment of $10 million annually to those projects.

Beginning in fiscal year 2002, and in subsequent years, the annual appropriation to Hopkins institutions will increase as the $3.75 million for cancer research is expected to rise to at least $5 million, as pledged by Gov. Parris N. Glendening.

Annie Kronk, the university's director of state and local affairs, said she expects Hopkins to receive over the next 10 years no less than $150 million in tobacco money for both cancer research and related facility construction.

The nation's major tobacco companies agreed in early 1999 to pay out $200 billion over 25 years to state governments in the face of thousands of pending lawsuits on the part of smokers and their families. Since receiving the windfall settlement, Glendening has been committed to designating roughly half of the restitution money to anti-cancer and anti-smoking programs.

The Johns Hopkins Institutions and the University of Maryland Medical System have been authorized by the governor to collaboratively develop statewide cancer prevention, education, screening and treatment programs.

UMMS also has secured commitments for $15 million a year for the next decade to expand its efforts to fight cancer. Next year, $11.2 million of its tobacco funds will go toward a tele-oncology network and cancer research.

As mandated by federal law, as part of the tobacco bill both Hopkins and the University of Maryland must sign a memorandum of understanding with the state to establish the state's ownership of medical discoveries supported by the tobacco funds, and devise a plan to hasten the process of rendering cancer research into tangible treatment protocols and clinical trials.

Kronk said what the state wants, and should see, are results.

"[The legislators] told us they are convinced that the best use of the money is to invest in the academic health centers--that being [an investment in] the quality of our faculty research work," Kronk said.

Specifically, 2001's $10 million facilities allocation will go toward the construction of a new research building at the corner of Broadway and Madison Street and two new research wings at the School of Public Health.

Of the $3.75 million earmarked in year one for research, $2.25 million will be focused on the recruitment and retention of high-quality faculty and researchers; cancer surveillance; and the area of epidemiology. Faculty will be recruited in the fields of behavioral research, genetic and cancer epidemiology, molecular genetics of cancer and viral vaccine development.

The rest of the research money--$1.5 million in year one and $2 million in subsequent years--will be used to fund a collaborative effort with the Baltimore City Health Department and the University of Maryland Medical System in forming a Community Health Coalition to provide cancer screening, education and treatment in Baltimore.

After the first three years of funding that includes $10 million annually for capital projects, all the allocated funds will be utilized to enhance cancer research activities that may lead to a cure for targeted cancers and increase the rate in which research activities can be translated into treatment for the entire state.

Edward Miller, CEO of Johns Hopkins Medicine and dean of the medical faculty, said that both Glendening's objectives and the lobbying efforts of Hopkins staff and administration should be lauded.

"We are convinced that a focus on that which we do best, discovery, is the quickest, surest way to achieve the governor's goal of conquering cancer in Maryland," Miller said in a letter to his East Baltimore colleagues. "With new space for our scientists and new funding to aid in their recruitment and retention, we will be better positioned to achieve this goal."

Martin Abeloff, professor and director of Oncology at the School of Medicine, said this commitment by the state is a very positive step in the fight against cancer. The money will be particularly effective, he said, in strengthening cancer awareness and prevention programs in urban communities.

"I think the state of Maryland has taken a very progressive approach with its tobacco dollars by making a significant commitment to anti-smoking initiatives and initiatives related to cancer," Abeloff said. "It makes certain that we are applying the knowledge base on a community level, and that is a very positive aspect."