Dr. Pamela Clark Named One of "50 Women to Watch" in Baltimore

For immediate release: October 17, 2014

Greenebaum Cancer Center researcher leading critical research on toxicity of smokeless tobacco products

Pamela I. Clark, Ph.D.

Pamela I. Clark, Ph.D.

October 17, 2014 – University of Maryland Marlene and Stewart Greenebaum Cancer Center researcher Pamela I. Clark, Ph.D., has been named one of Baltimore Sun Magazine’s “50 Women to Watch.” The annual edition showcases the most accomplished, ambitions, powerful, memorable and intriguing women in the Baltimore area.

Dr. Clark was selected for her nationally-recognized research on e-cigarettes and other unregulated alternative smoking products and has emerged as a leading voice in the controversial discussion around their effects and safety.

“Pam Clark’s research is helping to produce critical knowledge of these products and provide the FDA with strong scientific basis on which to form policies around their use and availability – policies that could greatly impact our nation’s health,” says Kevin Cullen, MD, professor of medicine at the UM School of Medicine and director of the Greenebaum Cancer Center.

While cigarette smoking has decreased in the United States, there has been a marked rise in the use of alternative smoking devices. E-cigarette use alone has doubled in the last year – this statistic includes use among minors as well as adults. Little is known about the safety of these products, and the public health community is divided on them. Proponents claim that e-cigarettes help smokers kick the habit by delivering low doses of nicotine without harmful carcinogens, while critics claim they perpetuate smoking by allowing people to “vape” in areas where cigarettes are banned. Dr. Clark is working to define truths, so people can make informed decisions about using these products.

Dr. Clark’s work is getting national attention, and she’s become a recognized expert in the field. One recent study showed that the levels of carbon monoxide someone gets from smoking a hookah are equivalent to those of sitting in a car that’s running with the garage door closed.

In September 2013, Dr. Clark received a $19 million grant from the FDA and NIH as part of their Tobacco Center of Regulatory Science program, a first-of-its kind effort to generate research to inform the regulation of tobacco products to protect public health. She was one of only 14 recipient groups of this funding.

On February 27, 2014, she gave a presentation called, “E-Cigarettes: Unanswered Questions” to the National Cancer Institute’s (NCI) National Cancer Advisory Board and received a round of applause from the normally-subdued board.

A research professor in the Department of Behavioral and Community Health at the University of Maryland College Park, Dr. Clark is a member of the Greenebaum Cancer Center’s Population Science research program. The program, in part, seeks to identify biological and psychosocial influences on smoking and characterize exposure to these alternative smoking products with a goal increasing smoking prevention and cessation. It unites researchers from University of Maryland’s Baltimore and College Park campuses.

Dr. Clark began her career in cardiology, taking care of people with smoking-related diseases at the end of their lives. In time, she determined that, to truly help patients, she needed to find a way to keep them from becoming smokers in the first place.

“Smoking is the #1 preventable cause of death in our country,” says Dr. Clark. “If you can stop smoking and the epidemic of tobacco use, you can save a huge number of lives.”