Member, Cancer Prevention and Control
GRU Cancer Center
Professor, Pediatrics, College of Graduate Studies
Georgia Regents University
As a young nurse, Martha Tingen saw how patients’ choices early in life could result in bad outcomes down the road. At the top of the list was the use of tobacco.
The younger the smoker, the riskier smoking or chewing tobacco becomes.
“This has everything to do with the environment you were raised in and the passive smoke you were exposed to during those years,” says Dr. Tingen, interim director for the Cancer Prevention and Control program at The GHSU Cancer Center.
Much of her research centers on encouraging healthy decision-making in family and school settings, especially among African-Americans. “Health disparities related to tobacco use are very prevalent among African-Americans. This may be due to the way their bodies metabolize nicotine,” says Dr. Tingen.
Finding effective ways to stop or prevent tobacco use in this population is the primary aim of her research. The less smoking in the home, the less children are exposed to second-hand smoke and the less likely they are to become smokers themselves. “Tobacco use, and specifically smoking, is the only health risk behavior that affects the people around you,” she says.
Smoking across all populations accounts for some 30 percent of cancer deaths and is implicated in nearly 90 percent of lung cancer cases, according to the American Cancer Society.
As director of the Prevention and Control program, Dr. Tingen has enlisted the help of community volunteers to extend the program’s reach into the region. As members of the Community Advisory Board, these citizens give valuable insights, guidance and leadership in advancing the program’s mission.
Dr. Tingen earned a BSN in 1979 at the University of South Carolina and an MSN at the Medical College of Georgia in 1983. She returned to the University of South Carolina and obtained a PhD in 1995. She currently serves as the co-director of MCG’s Child Health Discovery Institute (CHDI) and was recently appointed to the Community Level Health Promotion (CLHP) Study Section at the National Institutes of Health. She has authored numerous articles for professional journals.
- National Cancer Institute: ”Impact of a Tobacco Control Intervention in African American Families” 2007-2013, M. Tingen, PI
- National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute: “Promoting Asthma Wellness in Rural Communities” 2009-2013, M. Tingen, co-PI
- National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute: ”A Social Ecological Based, Multi-Level Smoking Cessation Intervention in Public Housing Neighborhoods” 2008-2013, M. Tingen, co-PI
- Georgia Department of Behavioral Health & Developmental Disabilities/MHDDAD/GDHR: “Promoting Alcohol Awareness and Prevention in Rural Middle Schools Students” 2011-2013, M. Tingen, PI
- Georgia Department of Public Health: “Project WIN: Working In uNison To Prevent Substance Abuse (Phase II) “2008-2010, M. Tingen, PI
- GHSU Cancer Center: “A Pharmacogenetic Tobacco Cessation Trial “ 2008-2010, M. Tingen, P