Dr. Hasmeena Kathuria to Succeed Fiore as UW-CTRI Director

Hasmeena Kathuria, MD, has agreed to become the next UW-CTRI director, succeeding founding director Dr. Michael Fiore, Dean Robert Golden announced. UW-CTRI founders Fiore and Dr. Tim Baker will direct the Center until Kathuria takes the reigns for good in July.

Dr. Hasmeena Kathuria
Dr. Hasmeena Kathuria

Kathuria is a pulmonary, critical care, and sleep medicine physician whose research, advocacy, and clinical efforts are focused on clinical care and policy regarding tobacco dependence in communities disproportionally affected by tobacco use.

Before joining UW-CTRI, Dr. Kathuria developed and directed the Tobacco Treatment Center at Boston Medical Center, where a multidisciplinary team of health professionals help patients quit smoking.

“I am excited and motivated to work with the amazing group at UW-CTRI,” Kathuria said. “They have been the impetus for the development of our program at Boston Medical Center and my work thus far. I am dedicated to continuing the legacy of UW-CTRI and to the generation of exemplary leaders in the field.”

She’s excited to explore new opportunities and collaborate with other UW departments to fund UW-CTRI’s work to reduce the leading cause of preventable disease and death in Wisconsin and the nation.

As a pulmonologist at Boston Medical Center treating predominantly socially disadvantaged communities, she noticed a high percentage of her patients smoked, particularly menthol cigarettes. “We needed to do much better. I made it my mission to advocate for policy change and to make treating tobacco dependence a priority,” Kathuria said. “To me, it’s a social justice issue.”

“When we started our lung nodule program and lung cancer screening program in 2014 and 2015, I saw this as an opportune time to integrate a tobacco treatment program since pairing smoking cessation interventions with lung cancer screening saves additional lives.” So, she obtained certification at the University of Massachusetts to become a tobacco treatment specialist and developed Boston Medical Center’s tobacco treatment program in 2015.

When Fiore served on a public health conference panel in May 2022 with Kathuria, he shared with her that he was considering retirement and hoped she would apply to become the next UW-CTRI director.

“I thought it was just small talk,” she said with a laugh. “When I came to visit UW-CTRI, I was immediately drawn to the people, the team science, and the outreach programs. I knew Dr. Megan Piper from working together on the American Thoracic Society (ATS) Tobacco Action Committee. While I’ve known, reference, and have modeled our clinical programs based on the work of CTRI, it was my first time meeting all the other people behind that work. That was emotional and really meaningful to me.”

Kathuria recently published a paper with Piper in the journal Annals of American Thoracic Society. Kathuria chairs the ATS Tobacco Action Committee, where she collaborates with Government Relations and others with interest in tobacco control policies.

She’s no stranger to the Midwest, born and raised in Chicago. She earned her undergraduate degree at Northwestern University, her medical doctorate at Loyola University Chicago, and conducted her residency and chief residency at Indiana University.

She has contributed to tobacco-related policy statements, articles, book chapters and the forthcoming U.S. Surgeon General Report. She is an active participant in statewide clinical trainings, medical school, residency, and fellowship lectures to improve tobacco treatment and served as a Bias Reduction in Internal Medicine implementer. She additionally serves as the Section Editor to UpToDate, Tobacco Treatment and is on the Editorial Board for the Thoracic Oncology Prevention Section of ACCP’s medical journal, CHEST.

“The goal of my research is to improve patient outcomes in low socioeconomic status (SES) patients through implementing patient-centered programs, particularly in patients with tobacco dependence. I strive to ensure that socially disadvantaged individuals are represented in research studies.”

“Locally, regionally and nationally, my clinical and research interests and advocacy efforts focus on interventions and policies to mitigate health inequities in tobacco use and treatment, lung cancer screening, and lung nodule evaluation.” She wants to continue UW-CTRI’s work on tobacco disparities.

“Kathuria’s outstanding leadership, clinical and research skills make her the perfect individual to lead the center,” said Dr. Robert Golden, the dean of the UW School of Medicine and Public Health.

“I am excited for the continued flourishing of this incredibly vital center that has saved countless lives.”

Fiore said he and the staff appreciates the work of Dean Golden, his staff, and the hiring committee who worked hard to help find his successor.

Kathuria has published 51 papers as well as several articles and book chapters on tobacco policy and treating tobacco dependence and has been the principal investigator on seven intramural and externally-funded research awards. She has received 25 awards or honors, including the 2010 Department of Defense Lung Cancer Promising Clinician Research Award, the 2017 American Lung Association Lung Cancer Discovery Award, fellowship in the American Thoracic Society and, most recently, being named the 2022 American Thoracic Society Chair of the Tobacco Action Committee.

“The one that stands out is the Clinical Innovator Award from the Evans Foundation at Boston University School of Medicine,” she said, “for starting the ‘opt-out’ inpatient tobacco treatment intervention to all hospitalized individuals who use tobacco products, regardless of motivation to quit and clinical diagnosis.” They have treated more than 1,500 socially disadvantaged patients who have used tobacco products. “This award told me the hospital recognized and values the importance of this work.”

During the next 11 months, she will live in Boston but visit UW-CTRI, meet and greet colleagues and partners in person and collaborate online to build a strong future for the Center.

She plans to be clinically active as a pulmonologist in Wisconsin and is particularly excited to explore ways to partner with UW-CTRI Researcher Dr. Jessica Cook and her team at the VA to help veterans quit tobacco use and to foster partnerships and research with communities in Wisconsin to advance health equity.

She has completed five marathons, most recently the 2014 Chicago Marathon, and now runs three to five miles daily as a hobby and to clear her mind. She enjoys traveling with her husband, spending time with family and friends, watching movies, and participating in book clubs. She has two grown children in college.