GFN 2017 Speakers Bios

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Neal L. Benowitz, MD, is Professor of Medicine and Bioengineering & Therapeutic Sciences, and Chief of the Division of Clinical Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics, University of California, San Francisco (UCSF). He received his medical degree from the University of Rochester School of Medicine in 1969, following which he served as a resident in internal medicine at the Bronx Municipal Hospital Center from 1969 to 1971. He then completed a postdoctoral fellowship in clinical pharmacology at UCSF and joined the faculty in 1974. His research interests have focused primarily on the human pharmacology and toxicology of nicotine. He has published more than 600 research papers. Dr Benowitz also maintains an active clinical practice in cardiovascular medicine and medical toxicology.
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Linda Bauld is Professor of Health Policy, Director of the Institute for Social Marketing and Dean of Research (Impact) at the University of Stirling in Scotland. She is also Deputy Director of the UK Centre for Tobacco and Alcohol Studies and holds the CRUK/BUPA Chair in Behavioural Research for Cancer Prevention at Cancer Research UK. She has conducted research on smoking cessation and tobacco control for 20 years, is a former UK government scientific advisor on tobacco control and chaired the NICE guidance group on tobacco harm reduction. Linda is Deputy Editor of the journal Nicotine and Tobacco Research and President-Elect of the Society for Research on Nicotine and Tobacco Europe. In 2017 she was elected a Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh for her contribution to public health and cancer prevention.
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Atakan Erik Befrits is a Turkish/Swedish tobacco harm reduction advocate, policy researcher and harm reduction entrepreneur. Mr Befrits works for the global recognition and adoption of tobacco harm reduction as a vital and crucial tool for better public health and argues that tobacco harm reduction is clearly stipulated as mandatory in the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control. His primary area of advocacy is to internationally provide information on food grade smokeless tobacco (aka snus or snus-analog products) being viable, affordable and 98% harm reduced alternatives to smoking.
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Peter Beckett is a consultant who specialises in the identification, analysis and management of political risk. He spent nearly three years as Head of Public Policy for ECITA, where he was responsible for industry-level political advocacy during the procedure that led to the passage of the Tobacco Products Directive. He has also been instrumental in its implementation, is an expert in compliance with its requirements and was at the centre of negotiations that led to the formation of CEN TC 437 on electronic cigarettes and e-liquids. He also works with the US Vapor Technology Association, advocating for sensible regulations in North America, and consults for leading nicotine delivery companies around the world.
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Dr. Donny is a Professor of Psychology, Psychiatry and Behavioral & Community Health Sciences at the University of Pittsburgh. His expertise includes behavioral pharmacology, biological and health psychology, addiction, and regulatory science. His current interests focus on regulatory approaches to reducing the health burden of tobacco. He co-directs the Center for the Evaluation of Nicotine in Cigarettes (CENIC), an NIDA/FDA-funded cooperative agreement that aims to increase understanding of how behavior and health might be affected if the nicotine content of combustible tobacco products is reduced.
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Dr Konstantinos Farsalinos is a cardiologist, working as researcher at Onassis Cardiac Surgery Center in Athens-Greece and at Medical Imaging Research Center, University Hospital Gathuisberg in Leuven-Belgium. His main research interests are new modalities in cardiovascular imaging and he has received a scholarship from the Greek Society of Cardiology for research and education in this field. He has studied the effects of smoking on subclinical cardiac dysfunction using new imaging techniques since 2010.
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Amelia is a PhD candidate in Sociology at the University of Waterloo (Ontario, Canada). Her dissertation explores the social history of vapor technologies. Specifically, she is interested in the role played by "lead-users" in product innovation and in shaping the consumer market, the political and cultural dynamics of controversies surrounding the regulation of e-cigarettes, and the implications of various regulatory regimes for innovation and knowledge making practices in the vaping space. Amelia advocates for harm reduction policies that, in addition to making products available to consumers, recognize and protect users' ability to innovate in the market.
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Richard Holliday is a Speciality Registrar (StR) in Restorative Dentistry and NIHR Doctoral Research Fellow at Newcastle University. Richard’s research interests are focused on periodontal diseases, particularly risk factors, and he is currently completing his PhD on ‘e-cigarettes as a smoking cessation or harm reduction tool for patients with periodontitis’. The main body of this work is a feasibility randomised controlled trial of 80 smokers with periodontitis. Additional projects include surveys of tobacco education in UK dental schools, surveys of practitioner opinions and in vitro analysis.
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Since gaining her Brownie Wings in the 60’s, Judy has had an eclectic career including: WRAF Aircraft mechanic, drill instructor, restaurant manager, detective sergeant, MOD/MI5 gopher, Computer Consultant, twenty years in artiste management, theatre marketing/film programming and finally a Community Flood Consultant before reaching the zenith that is INNCO. A Jill of all trades and occasional mistress seems to cover it. A smoker since the invention of bike-sheds, Judy tried vaping about six years ago, reducing smoking but struggling with e-cigarette incarnations until, in 2015, technological improvements tipped the scales. Having finally eschewed cigarettes, she was astounded to discover that despite vaping being significantly safer, others were demanding draconian regulations and prohibition. Thus, a vociferous advocate for tobacco harm reduction was born. When not engaged in rebutting the latest vaping ‘research’ scare stories, overzealous state regulation or the latest calls for banning every e-liquid flavour except tobacco (the irony), she might be found nursing a large ‘Rakish Rhubarb Gin’, ambivalent to the rampaging brambles in her cottage garden.
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Thomas R. Kirchner, PhD, is Clinical Associate Professor of Public Health, Medicine, and Urban Science at NYU, and founding director of NYU mobile health (mHealth). Dr. Kirchner is a clinical-health psychologist and methodologist interested in the analysis and graphical representation of “intensive” longitudinal and geographic data, including novel methodologies that link individual behavior to the real-time context in which it occurs. Dr. Kirchner’s approach targets momentary influences on the maintenance of addictive and health-related behavior utilizing both field-based (ecological momentary assessment) and laboratory-based paradigms. This includes development of novel analytical methods for the application of geographic information science (GIS) to public health and policy. Supported by funding from the US National Institute on Drug Abuse, US National Cancer Institute, and US NIH Office of Behavioral and Social Science Research, ongoing work focuses on the impact of emerging retail product landscapes on complex patterns of drug use, including the separate and combined use of tobacco and cannabis via both combusted and electronic drug delivery systems.
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Catherine Kimber is a Doctoral candidate at the School of Psychology at the University of East London. Her research is concerned with nicotine and smoking addiction with a focus on e-cigarette use. Earlier work looked at the relationship between e-cigarette types and their appeal to smokers. She has also been involved in other work which includes the effects of nicotine on smokers’ cognitive functioning. Her PhD is looking at compensatory behaviours in e-cigarette use, nicotine delivery and e-cigarettes’ efficacy as smoking cessation aids.
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Patricia I. Kovacevic, Esq. is the General Counsel and Chief Compliance Officer of Nicopure Labs LLC. With extensive U.S. and international industry experience, Ms. Kovacevic held senior legal and compliance positions at, among other, Philip Morris International and Lorillard. Prior to joining Lorillard she was a partner at Patton Boggs. Her expertise includes global e-cigarette and tobacco regulation, compliance and all regulatory aspects of marketing/media communications, corporate affairs, criminal investigations, FCPA, trade sanctions, privacy, product development and launch. Ms. Kovacevic serves on the advisory board of the Global Tobacco and Nicotine Forum and on the board of the Vapor Technology Association, where Nicopure Labs is a founding member. In the past she was a United Nations staff member, served on UN's Public-Private Partnership Commission and was also an advisor to the Council for Burley Tobacco.
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Colin is an Associate Professor in the School of Public Health and Community Medicine at the University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia. He is a medical practitioner and tobacco treatment specialist working in private practice. He is actively involved in raising awareness of the public health benefits of nicotine-containing e-cigarettes and advocating for their legalisation in Australia. His activities in the smoking cessation field include teaching medical students and health professionals, writing, research, public education and consulting to the pharmaceutical industry. Colin is a member of the committee that develops the Australian national smoking cessation guidelines and is past Vice President of the Australian Association of Smoking Cessation Professionals. Colin is on the steering committee of the QUIT4october stop smoking campaign.
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Dr Joanna Astrid Miler is a Psychologist, with research interests in addiction, harm reduction and smoking cessation. Miler holds MA and MRes degrees from the University of St Andrews and a PhD from the University of Southampton. Prior to joining the Centre for Substance Use Research she worked as an Analyst at RAND Europe, and later, as a Research Health Psychologist in the Health and Lifestyle Research Unit of Queen Mary University of London. Alongside conducting scientific research, she is also a trained specialist stop smoking advisor and worked in that capacity for the City of London Stop Smoking Service.
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Peter Lee is an epidemiologist/medical statistician who has published widely, principally on tobacco. He went to Oxford, and after working for the Tobacco Research Council, formed his independent consultancy company P.N.Lee Statistics and Computing in 1982. He edited reference books on international smoking prevalence. He has published numerous meta-analyses on health effects, not only of smoking and quitting, but also of passive smoking and smokeless tobacco. Accuracy of diagnosis and self-reported smoking habits is a major interest. He has won national titles at both chess and bridge. He is married with one daughter and two grandchildren.
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Louise Ross is the leader of the Leicester City Stop Smoking Service. Louise finished a very happy and long working life in learning disabilities to work in tobacco control and smoking cessation, and has been delighted to discover a second career that has been even more satisfying than the first. Initially sceptical about ecigs, she has become a vocal advocate for their use as a harm reduction method, principally because she has listened to people who have used them to stop smoking, and has been utterly convinced by their sincerity. Louise is an associate of the New Nicotine Alliance UK, a charity committed to improving public health through a greater understanding of risk-reduced nicotine products.
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Dr Shahab is a senior lecturer in health psychology at University College London and trained in psychology, epidemiology and neuroscience. He has more than 10 years’ experience in tobacco control with a particular interest in novel behavioural and pharmacological smoking cessation interventions,biomarkers, tobacco product regulation and policy and tobacco use epidemiology. Dr Shahab's research spans a variety of techniques and methods, involving both human (randomised controlled trials, survey analysis, laboratory and experimental work) and animal studies (electrophysiology). He has collaborated with academic as well as non-academic (e.g. governmental and non-governmental) partners and to date has authored over 70 scientific papers and reviews.
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Clive Bates has had varied career having worked in the private sector for IBM, in the UK government in Tony Blair's Strategy Unit, the United Nations in Sudan, for Greenpeace and for Action on Smoking and Health in the UK, which is why he is interested in smoke free alternatives to tobacco. Since early 2013 he has his own public interest consultancy and advocacy organisation, including the Counterfactual blog. He is interested in the enormous public health potential of tobacco harm reduction and is not engaged by pharmaceutical, e-cigarette or tobacco interests.
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David Sweanor is an adjunct professor, Faculty of Law, University of Ottawa, Centre for Health Law, Policy & Ethics, University of Ottawa and a honorary (consultant) assistant professor, University of Nottingham. He has been actively involved in tobacco and health policy issues since the beginning of the 1980s. He has worked with numerous companies and organisations, including the International Union Against Cancer, World Health Organization, World Bank and the Pan American Health Organization, and currently focuses much of his efforts on risk reduction strategies. He has received both international recognition and prestigious prizes for his work.
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Dr Notley is a Senior Lecturer in Mental Health, and a Research Fellow of the UK Society for the Study of Addiction. She has more than ten years experience in Addiction research. Her current research focus is on tobacco smoking relapse prevention, and will develop an intervention to support women to stay abstinent from smoking postpartum. Dr Notley’s research interest in alternative nicotine delivery devices primarily explores social and culturally pertinent aspects of vaping, with a particular focus on the public health potential of vaping for smoking relapse prevention.
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Helen Redmond is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker. She is an expert in addiction and works with drug users and people with a psychiatric diagnosis. Helen provides consultation and training in tobacco harm reduction. Her goal is to help the most marginalized smokers transition to e-cigarettes. She is an independent journalist and has written about drug policy, drug treatment and the American criminal justice system for Al Jazeera, Alternet, Harpers and The Influence. Helen is a filmmaker and she made a short documentary about people with serious mental health problems and smoking. Her documentary,Ezra Dowery: Life on Broadway, was an official selection of the NYC Mental Health Film Festival, 2016.
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Kevin McGirr is Clinical Professor in the School of Nursing; has taught in schools of medicine, social work and public health and was a Fulbright Scholar in Pondicherry India, 2013-2014. He has over forty years experience in providing and managing behavioral health services; holds master’s degrees in public health, psychiatric nursing and ABD in public health. He has been involved in the training and development of harm reduction services and in particular utilizing Harm Reduction Tobacco interventions for persons with serious mental illness. He will present his recent qualitative investigation on the experience of tobacco interventions by persons with serious mental illness.
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Ron Borland PhD is the Nigel Gray Distinguished Fellow in Cancer Prevention, at The Cancer Council Victoria, Australia where he has worked for 30 years. He is listed in the Thomson-Reuters List of the World’s most influential scientists. He is one of the Principal Investigators of the International Tobacco Control Policy Evaluation Project: an international collaboration that is analysing the impact of policies on smoking. His has a special interest in harm minimisation strategies and strategies to assist highly disadvantaged, high smoking prevalence groups. He is the developer of CEOS theory: a comprehensive theory of Hard to Maintain Behaviour Change.
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Dr Sharon Cox has over ten years’ experience working in the drug and alcohol field, including working at front-line services with some of the UK's most deprived communities. She has a special interest in harm-reduction and advocates for improving lives through transparency and opportunity. She currently works as a Cancer Research UK Funded Research Fellow at London South Bank University's Centre for Addictive Behaviour Research. Her current research is focused on e-cigarette puffing patterns associated with high and low nicotine e-liquid strength, effects on toxicant and carcinogen exposure.