Postdoctoral Fellowship Program Bolsters Global Tobacco Research and Control

Launched in 2021 as a collaboration between Georgia State University (GSU), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the CDC Foundation, the Georgia State University Postdoctoral Fellowship in Global Tobacco Research was established to bolster the tobacco control workforce in low- and middle-income countries around the world.

Funded by Bloomberg Initiative to Reduce Tobacco Use through the CDC Foundation with a grant from Bloomberg Philanthropies, the program trains postdoctoral fellows from selected countries in tobacco control, research methods, grant writing, media and communication. During the 15-month training, which takes place in Atlanta, fellows learn from subject matter experts at CDC about the Global Tobacco Surveillance System (GTSS) and work on a GTSS research project mentored and co-authored with CDC. After the intensive training in Atlanta, each participant spends up to nine months in their home country working on a mentored research project specific to their country’s current tobacco control needs.

“The opportunities this program has provided for us has been invaluable,” said Di Pei, a fellow from China who participated in the program. “I feel empowered with the belief that our research can make a difference in society.”

To date, the CDC Foundation has funded two cohorts composed of five total fellows from Bangladesh, China, Georgia, The Gambia and Vietnam, each with varying levels of tobacco control experience. With research interests ranging from tobacco taxation, media messaging and tobacco industry interference their impact has already been felt. Thus far, program participants have presented at 15 conferences, had four media appearances and published 15 manuscripts, with an additional 18 in progress. The three fellows of Cohort 1 are now preparing for the in-country portion of their fellowship to conduct primary data collection upon their return, while those of Cohort 2 are working with CDC subject matter experts to identify tobacco control research gaps that can be addressed using GTSS data.

Through innovation, collaboration and access to CDC experts, the GSU Postdoctoral Fellowship in Global Tobacco Research is transforming the lives of these five fellows. Equipped with their new training, these fellows are returning home as tobacco control experts and leaders with the tools and experience needed to make an impact in tobacco control in their own countries and beyond.

Carrie Whitney
Carrie Whitney is a project manager for the CDC Foundation's Noninfectious Disease Programs.