UW-CTRI Research Specialist Publishes Her First Paper, Eyes Graduate Gig

UW-CTRI Research Specialist Marika Rosenblum has had her first manuscript accepted for publication, the capstone on six years of total service at UW-CTRI, the Cancer Center Cessation Initiative (C3I), and the VA as she heads to the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) to conduct her graduate work.

Marika Rosenblum
Marika Rosenblum

The paper, “Motives for Smoking in Those With PTSD, Depression, and No Psychiatric Disorder,” will be published in the Journal of Dual Diagnosis. Results suggest that both Primary Dependence Motives (such as automatic smoking, loss of control, craving, or tolerance) and Secondary Dependence Motives (such as smoking to improve mood, or when exposed to smoking-related cues) play a meaningful role in motivation to use tobacco in smokers with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Smoking dependence in those with major depressive disorder may be primarily influenced by Secondary Dependence Motives.

Rosenblum became curious about why smokers with mental illness smoke at a higher rate and have a harder time quitting while working in Dr. Jess Cook’s VA research laboratory. Rosenblum examined smoking motives among Veterans with PTSD and with major depression disorder. She found that smokers with PTSD were especially likely to report elevations in scales that reflect a pattern of smoking that is heavy, automatic, and that is characterized by frequent urges to smoke.

Cook said that Rosenblum’s paper suggests that smokers with PSTD or major depression disorder could benefit from smoking treatment that teaches them to regulate their distressing mood states.

Rosenblum worked in Cook’s lab for three years before being hired as a research specialist at UW-CTRI, contributing to C3I, housed at UW and working with oncology centers across the nation to help patients quit tobacco use.

“It has been a true privilege to mentor Marika during her time in my VA laboratory and as a Research Specialist at UW-CTRI,” Cook said. “It is also a joy to watch her transition to her next phase of training as a graduate student in clinical psychology. While we will all miss her at UW-CTRI, she is absolutely ready for this next phase of her training.”

Rosenblum matriculate to UIC in the fall, working with revered mentor Dr. Robin Mermelstein, a long-time collaborator on many UW-CTRI studies.

“I’m looking forward to working with Marika as a graduate student in the Clinical Psychology program at UIC,” Mermelstein said. “Her enthusiasm and natural curiosity bode well for her success as a graduate student. I’m fortunate, too, to have this additional bridge and connection with the UW-CTRI team and for us to continue our collaborations!”

“Marika’s ability to translate theory and prior research into a meaningful research question speaks to her promise as a graduate student and as a clinical researcher,” Cook said. “For someone at this early stage of her research training, she thinks with exceptional logic and clarity about research questions and issues.”

“I am so grateful to all of the researchers at UW-CTRI who have shared their knowledge and experience with me throughout my time here,” Rosenblum said. “I especially want to thank Jessica Cook for her years of mentorship and support. I am so fortunate to have started my career at UW-CTRI, and I can’t wait for the next phase of my training at UIC!”