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Department of Internal Medicine

Department of Internal Medicine


Award news for Dr. Elisa Tong

June 25, 2010

Elisa Tong, UC Davis assistant professor of general medicine, was honored last week with the Christine and Helen Landgraf Award, a research grant for her revolutionary work with tobacco control policy and cessation issues. The grant, awarded at the annual Spaghetti Western, a cancer research fundraiser at Cooper Vineyards in Amador County, provides her with up to $7,000.

Tong’s research has elicited a number of other notable grants, including an American Cancer Society Research Scholar Grant, in addition to the funding provided by the UC Davis Clinical and Translational Science Center. Tong has been a pioneer in tobacco-related research. She is noted for her work using previously secret tobacco industry documents to expose a multi-million dollar program aimed at destabilizing the scientific findings linking smoking to cancer. That research was ultimately used by the World Health Organization in a treaty for tobacco control.

Her current research expands upon her interest in the effects of smoking by exploring how to translate concern about second-hand smoke into viable options for cessation. She uses education, motivational counseling and laboratory feedback to investigate both social and scientific “cures” for the addiction. The Landgraf grant will be put toward these kinds of research efforts.

Tong, who joined UC Davis Medical Center in 2006, expressed sincere gratitude for the prize. “Since the award was set up on behalf of the family, the award becomes even more meaningful for me,” she said.

July 2, 2010

Elisa Tong, assistant professor of general internal medicine, has been awarded an $890,000 Research Scholar Grant from the American Cancer Society to conduct a novel smoking-cessation study focused on Chinese-American smokers and nonsmokers who live in the same residence.This month, Tong will begin targeting approximately 300 San Francisco households in which a smoker lives with a nonsmoker. She and her research team plan to educate participants about the dangers of tobacco-smoke exposure using information from scientific studies. They then will counsel the pairs about the benefits of living together in a smoke-free residence.

The Research Scholar Grants are designed to support studies in basic, preclinical, clinical and epidemiologic research to advance health. Tong's research aims to translate the known benefits of smoke-free policies and recommendations into actual clinical interventions to benefit smokers and nonsmokers. It also will encourage ongoing social support to establish smoke-free environments in the home. 

Tong is collaborating with the Chinatown Public Health Center and its health education team to conduct her research within the Chinese-speaking community. She says male immigrants from China have high rates of smoking and are less inclined to enroll in cessation programs compared to other groups. With 1 in 3 of the world's smokers in China, and with half of that nation's nonsmoking population exposed to secondhand smoke, Tong's project has the potential of far-reaching health benefits beyond San Francisco's Chinese community.

"The Chinese may be particularly responsive to smoke-free messages when they are linked to certain social group norms," said Tong, whose previous tobacco-related studies include an analysis of smoke-free rules in the home and indoor work areas among Chinese- and Korean-American women. "Almost all Chinese smokers who responded to a 2004 statewide survey acknowledged that their family wanted them to quit. A well-crafted cessation program that speaks collectively to Chinese Americans could be very effective because traditional Chinese society emphasizes the 'group' more than the 'individual.'"

Tong's current study is based on earlier research, funded by the National Cancer Institute through the Asian American Network for Cancer Awareness Research and Training (AANCART). That pilot project, also in collaboration with Chinatown Public Health Center, found both Chinese smokers and nonsmokers were receptive to discussing smoking-cessation information that emphasized secondhand smoke concerns. Participants indicated that messages from health professionals, communication examples and laboratory results of smoke exposure could help them to better grapple with household discussions about quitting smoking and eliminating exposure to secondhand smoke.  Tong is conducting similar work in the general English-speaking population with a study funded by the UC Davis Clinical and Translational Science Center.

Collaborators on the Research Scholar Grant include Debora Paterniti, associate adjunct professor of internal medicine and sociology; Chin-Shang Li, associate professor of biostatistics; and Janice Tsoh, associate adjunct professor of psychiatry at UC San Francisco. Community advisory groups for study assistance and dissemination include the San Francisco-based Chinese Council, AANCART and the American Cancer Society's New York-based Asian Initiatives program.

About the American Cancer Society
The American Cancer Society combines an unyielding passion with nearly a century of experience to save lives and end suffering from cancer. As a global grassroots force of more than three million volunteers, we fight for every birthday threatened by every cancer in every community. We save lives by helping people stay well by preventing cancer or detecting it early; helping people get well by being there for them during and after a cancer diagnosis; by finding cures through investment in groundbreaking discovery; and by fighting back by rallying lawmakers to pass laws to defeat cancer and by rallying communities worldwide to join the fight. As the nation's largest non-governmental investor in cancer research, contributing more than $3.4 billion, we turn what we know about cancer into what we do. As a result, more than 11 million people in America who have had cancer and countless more who have avoided it will be celebrating birthdays this year. To learn more about us or to get help, call us any time, day or night, at 1-800-227-2345 or visit

UC Davis Health System is an academic health center that includes a top-ranked school of medicine, a 613-bed acute care hospital, the Betty Irene Moore School of Nursing, a National Cancer Institute-designated cancer center, the unique MIND Institute for the study of neurodevelopmental disorders, a comprehensive children's hospital, a level 1 trauma center and outpatient clinics in communities throughout the Sacramento region. Consistently ranked among the nation's top medical schools and best hospitals, UC Davis has established itself as a national leader in telehealth, rural medicine, cancer, neurodevelopmental disorders, vascular medicine, and trauma and emergency medicine. Other areas of research strength include clinical and translational science, regenerative medicine, infectious disease, neuroscience, functional genomics and mouse biology, comparative medicine and nutrition, among many others.

Award news for Dr. Tonya Fancher


September 2010

The Department of Internal Medicine congratulates Dr. Tonya Fancher for her two recently awarded Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) and American Reinvestment Recovery Act (ARRA) grants.

The first grant, Transforming Education and Community Health for Medical Students: TEACH-MS is a pre-doctoral training grant to create and pilot a 4-year multidisciplinary community-based experience for UC Davis School of Medicine students interested in primary care and care for the underserved, estimated award amount $1.5 million.  The project will develop primary care experiences in each year of medical school and strengthen the supply, distribution and diversity of the UC Davis workforce. Dr. Fancher is named the physician investigator for the project and Dr. Mark Henderson is the co-investigator.

Dr. Fancher's second grant, Transforming Education and Community Health Equipment Request is an equipment grant to strengthen the capacity for health professional education by enhancing training in communication, expanding training in physical examination skills and improving training in office-based procedures through simulation.

Award news for Dr. Patrick Romano

September 2010

The Center for Healthcare Policy and Research (CHPR), in collaboration with co-PIs from UCLA, UCSF, UCSD, UCI, and Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, and the Department of Internal Medicine is delighted and honored to announce that a proposal entitled "Variations in Care: Comparing Heart Failure Care Transition Intervention Effects" has been selected for funding by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. Dr. Patick Romano will be the UC Davis Co-PI.

The proposal was submitted in response to RFA-HS-10-003, "Recovery Act 2009 Limited Competition: AHRQ Clinical and Health Outcomes Initiative in Comparative Effectiveness (CHOICE) Grants." The goal of this solicitation, supported by the $1.1 billion investment in comparative effectiveness research under the American Recovery & Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA), was to "request applications for large projects in comparative effectiveness aimed at generating new knowledge to help inform decision making in priority areas of clinical care...(with) a high likelihood of creating major advancements in clinical care." The funded studies all compare the effectiveness of multiple treatment approaches using propspective, longitudinal designs.

The study, involving all five UC medical centers under the leadership of UCLA, represents one of the most ambitious randomized controlled trials ever undertaken of interventions to improve care at the inpatient-outpatient transition for patients with heart failure (or any chronic disease, for that matter). Over the next 3 years, from 9/1/2010 through 8/31/2013, AHRQ will invest $10 million in this study, with UC Davis (through the Center for Healthcare Policy and Research) slated to $1,093,192.