Syrian Center for Tobacco Studies

Arab World Awards

Hamdan Award for the Best Medical College/Institute or Centre in the Arab World
The Syrian Center for Tobacco Studies provides a pioneer model of international cooperation for the establishment of sustainable research base in a developing country setting. It addresses the needto create local expertise not only in research methodology, but aIso i n researc h su pport and fu nd ra ising areas. The overall goal of SCTS is to forge a sustainable institution which draws on a wide range of complimentary expertise and resources from developed and developing nations and serves as a model of scientific excellence and commitment to the health of people in the developing world.
This project is part of an initiative by the World Health Organization and National Institutes of Health, administered by the Fogarty International Center, in response to the tobacco industry's increasing targeting of the developing countries with their marketing tactics, as well as the devastating effects of smoking on these countries. 
The Syrian Center for Tobacco Studies (SCTS) created 5 years ago as a health research centre (funded by a grant from the US NIH), is a partner in the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health initiative 'Global Tobacco Control' whose Director is currently teaching in USA. SCTS also established the first Institutional Review Board in Syria facilitating proper protection of human research participants.
It pioneered the study of water-pipe use, an emerging public health problem in the Middle East Region. It has built scientific capacity locally by training local researchers to a standard whereby their output gained international recognition. Research is not limited to tobacco use however; broader environmental risks, cardiovascular disease and the health of people living in urban slums are also investigated. Health gain is promoted not only through research and capacity building, but also advocacy. Much of SCTS's success (as measured in publications and awards) must be credited to the vision of its Director working in international collaboration; Although one must observe that most of the published papers so far are the work of the Director or his international collaborators. The SCTS was awarded a five-year renewal grant from US sources in 2007. It has launched a multi-site PHC based cessation intervention trial in Aleppo with the goal of developing a Syrian-wide smoking cessation program.
In Summary: SCTS is producing groundbreaking work in the Region on a hugely important public health problem. It already has an impressive track record performing public health research which has achieved international prominence. There is strong evidence of wonderful achievements in research and public health advocacy. Hence this centre truly deserves the Hamdan Award for Medical Colleges/Institutions or Centres in the Arab World for the term 2007-2008. 
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