Virginia Commonwealth University

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This article is part of the Tobacco portal on Sourcewatch funded from 2006 - 2009 by the American Legacy Foundation.

Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) is a public American university located in Richmond, Virginia, USA. It operates the VCU School of Medicine. In the fall of 2004, VCU Medical School opened Virginia's only School of Public Health. VCU Medical School was formerly known as the Medical College of Virginia. VCU also operates a School of Nursing.[1] [2]

VCU is notable for its past and current relationships with the tobacco industry, and in recent years more specifically with cigarette maker Philip Morris, which is also located in Richmond, Virginia.

Tobacco industry documents reveal that VCU began taking grants from the Council for Tobacco Research as early as 1975.[3] Academics from VCU's School of Pharmacy have studied nicotine binding in the rat brain, through a grant supported by CTR.[4]

On January 17, 2006, VCU it was receiving a $2.2 million grant from Philip Morris for its Schools of Business and Engineering. [5]

On May 22, 2008, the New York Times published an expose' describing secret research contracts between VCU and Philip Morris.[6]

On July 8, 2008,, the online news portal for the greater Richmond area, published a detailed and extensive article describing VCU's relationship with the tobacco industry, and Philip Morris in particular. The article described VCU's secret "Operation Peat Moss," (the "P" and M" in "peat moss" stand for "Philip Morris"), an effort to convince PM to make a major research and development investment in Richmond's new biotech park. The article described a situation where academics at VCU were concerned about Philip Morris' extensive involvement with the University, but feared retribution for speaking out. The article states,

At VCU, some faculty members were annoyed that their school had gotten involved with Philip Morris with no input from them. Concern spread to the point where 20 or so faculty, researchers and students gathered June 19 [20080 in a public meeting to discuss the issues raised by the contracts. Tipped off, attended meeting, but only on the condition that the attendees not be identified. Several said they were so worried about the consequences of speaking out that they used cell phones rather than their office phones to communicate.[7]



Virginia Commonwealth University
Richmond, Virginia 23284
Phone: (804) 828-0100

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  1. Virginia Commonwealth University School of Nursing Web site, accessed July 9, 2008
  2. Medical College of Virginia, Virginia Commonwealth University Nicotine-Induced Stimulation of Isolated Cat Adrenocortical cells Undated scientific report. Bates No. 50196465/6481
  3. Council for Tobacco Research Information Required for Drawing and Mailing of CTR Grant Checks Undated form. CTR Bates No. 50099988/9988
  4. VA Commonwealth University; Aceto M., Medical College of VA, Harris LS, Medical College of VA et al Studies on the Binding of (-)-[3H Nicotine to Rat Brain] Undated scientific report. 29 pp. Bates No. 50129193/9221
  5. Anne Buckley, VCU Communications and Public Relations/VCU News Center Virginia Commonwealth University receives $2.2 million donation for its Schools of Engineering and Business Campaigns Press release. January 17, 2006
  6. Alan Finder, At One University, Tobacco Money Is a Secret, New York Times, May 22, 2008
  7. Peter Galuszka, In Pursuit of the Golden Leaf: VCU's controversial research contracts with Philip Morris USA are part of a larger story: Richmond and VCU have been courting the money-minting tobacco giant for years July 08, 2008

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