August 27, 2014
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The true impact of smoking Research

Through my work at RIT, I often have the pleasure of publicizing work that is helping to improve medical care and ultimately save lives. For example, university researchers are currently seeking to enhance knowledge surrounding the impact of smoking on human health.

The impacts of cigarette smoking are pretty well known at this point, from Surgeon General warning labels to the ubiquitous Truth television adds. However, while most no longer argue that smoking is bad for you, we still have much to learn about how smoking impacts individual organs both in passive and active smokers.

Risa Robinson, assistant professor of mechanical engineering, is utilizing computational modeling, medical imaging and mechanical simulation to illustrate how individual particles inhaled with cigarette smoke affect the body and how they travel from the lungs to other organs.

The effort will include the construction of a smoking machine, which will be used to simulate how these particles build up over time and the impact the process can have on breathing, digestion and lung capacity. The research is funded through a grant from the American Cancer Society and is being conducted in cooperation with RIT’s Departments of Medical Sciences and Medical Illustration.

Robinson believes her research can provide better evidence of the real-time effects of smoking and more properly link how particle buildup impacts numerous systems in the body. She also hopes to shed light on how these particles can impact passive smokers, through second hand smoke, and use her data in additional types of particle analysis, including studying the impacts of air pollution and asbestos. The work may also help improve the application of inhaled medications. Robinson’s team is currently in the development phase and plans to release initial findings later this year.

As I have mentioned before, it is times like these that I truly do love my job.


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