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Dr. Kola Okuyemi Inaugural Winner of the Pebbles Fagan Award

The Society for Research into Nicotine and Tobacco (SRNT) recently named DFPM Department Chair Kolawole S. Okuyemi, MD, MPH the inaugural winner of the Pebbles Fagan Award.

The award, which is named for University of Arkansas health equity research pioneer Pebbles Fagan, honors SRNT members who have made outstanding contributions to public health and minority communities through a focus on health equity research. Dr. Okuyemi was honored as one of the first researchers to track the extent of nicotine dependence among light smokers, especially among the African American community. His research work in identifying and mitigating the health impacts of smoking even a few cigarettes a day in this and other communities has generated multiple NIH grants and over 25 focused and hundreds of incidental publications on the issue. Dr. Okuyemi has also made great strides in the research of the efficacy of smoking cessation programs among those experiencing homelessness.

"Dr. Okuyemi has received multiple awards for his critical contributions," runs SRNT's announcement of the award. "He has been entrusted by the NIH to be the Principal Investigator of the National Research Mentoring Network for a Diverse Biomedical Work – a $22 million initiative – to promote diversity and equity in the biomedical workforce, including nicotine and tobacco research....He reveals the disparities in tobacco-related burdens for us to see and leads the way in combating these disparities so that all people in the society can benefit from the advancement in nicotine and tobacco research."

The award was highlighted by DFPM research leaders in March's faculty meeting. “This is a great honor for Dr. Okuyemi, to be recognized as a researcher who has made outstanding contribution to public health,” said DFPM Vice Chair of Research Joseph Stanford, MD, MSPH. “It’s hard to have a full grasp of the scope of what he’s done academically in this area and the contribution it’s made to public health.”

“I think Dr. Okuyemi lifts all of us up whenever he speaks and we rarely return the recognition to him, so I’m really glad that we have this opportunity to enjoy this honor and recognize [Dr. Okuyemi’s] contributions to science.” added Division of Family Medicine Chief Jennifer Leiser, MD.

Dr. Okuyemi was presented with the award in March at the SRNT 2023 Annual Meeting.

Pebbles Award