Brad Rodu

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Brad Rodu is Professor of Medicine at the University of Louisville in Kentucky (United States), and senior scientist at its James Graham Brown Cancer Center.1 Rodu has a background in dentistry and oral pathology and his research focuses on tobacco harm reduction, which he promotes on his blog Tobacco Truth. Rodu has worked closely with Carl V Phillips, Riccardo Polosa, and Joel Nitzkin.

Relationship with the Tobacco Industry

Rodu’s blog declared in June 2019 that his current research is supported by unrestricted grants from tobacco manufacturers to the University of Louisville, and by the Kentucky Research Challenge Trust Fund (which is also partially funded by tobacco companies).2 An academic paper Rodu published in 2013, with Riccardo Polosa as first author, declared this conflict of interest.3
Rodu reported receiving funding from British American Tobacco from 2010 to 2015, and Altria from 2010-12.4
Rodu’s endowed chair at the University of Louisville, which he took up in 2005, and associated research funds were created by the James Graham Brown Cancer Center using more than $3 million in unrestricted gifts by U.S. Smokeless Tobacco Company and Swedish Match North America, Inc. to the University of Louisville.5 The University emphasised that the money came with no strings attached: “The sponsors have no influence over the chair holder’s research. The funds and the chair are part of the “Finding Answers to Cancer” campaign. The university matched this commitment in part by the state’s Research Challenge Trust Fund”.6 The university states that this fund (commonly known as “Bucks for Brains”) uses state funds to match private donations, “effectively doubling the impact of private investment supporting research in strategically defined areas”.7 Donors to Bucks for Brains include Swedish Match and the U.S. Smokeless Tobacco Company.8
Before moving to Louisville in 2005, Rodu was supported in part by an unrestricted gift from the U.S. Smokeless Tobacco Company to the Tobacco Research Fund of the University of Alabama.9
Between 2000 and 2009, Rodu also worked with tobacco company RJ Reynolds assisting the promotion of industry positions on harm reduction.101112

Links to Industry-Funded Think Tanks

Rodu is a Senior Fellow of the Heartland Institute,13 which does not disclose its funders, but has been funded by Philip Morris, and used to have a Philip Morris manager, Roy Marden, on its board.101415
Rodu is also an Associate Fellow to R Street Institute, which split from the Heartland Institute in 2012 and which has also received tobacco industry funding.1617

Invited Speaker at Events

Rodu has been listed as a speaker at various events frequented or organised by the tobacco industry, including:

  • June 2019: the 6th Global Forum on Nicotine.18
  • January 2013: Keynote speaker at the Tobacco Plus Expo International, a tobacco industry trade fair to discuss “How has the tobacco retail business evolved; where was it fifteen years ago, where is it today and where is it going”.19
  • June 2012: Was originally listed as a speaker at the 2012 Global Tobacco Networking Forum (from 2015 known as the Global Tobacco and Nicotine Forum)20
    , however Rodu’s name disappeared of the speakers’ list in April 2012.21
  • November 2011: Listed speaker at TabExpo in Prague.22
  • September 2007: Keynote speaker on the industry organised 1st Harm Reduction Symposium: An Alternative Strategy for Smokers in Japan.23 The symposium was organised by the European Smokeless Tobacco Council (ESTOC), sponsored by British American Tobacco and supported by Swedish Match. Other speakers were Stefan Noreen (Swedish Ambassador to Japan), Bengt Jonsson (Vice President for Smokeless Operations Asia, Swedish Match), Dr Shintaro Sengoku (Lecturer, University of Tokyo, Graduate School of Pharmaceutical Sciences), and Justine Williamson (International Scientific Engagement Manager, BAT).24

In May 2018, Rodu contacted the University of Bath to state: “I did not make a presentation or attend the meetings in Prague (2011) and Antwerp (2012).” 25

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  1., Curriculum Vitae Brad Rodu, undated, accessed August 2011
  2. B. Rodu, My credentials, Tobacco Truth blog, last updated 22 May 2019, accessed May 2019
  3. R. Polosa, B. Rodu, P. Caponnetto, et al., A fresh look at tobacco harm reduction: the case for the electronic cigarette, Harm Reduction Journal, 2013 10:19
  4. B. Rodu, Brad Rodu DDS: Curriculum Vitae, University of Louisville website, 17 October 2018, accessed May 2019
  5. University of Louisville, Donors, Bucks For Brains, undated, accessed May 2019
  6. University of Louisville, Endowed Chair in Tobacco Harm Reduction Research, undated, accessed June 2019
  7. Bucks for Brains, University of Louisville, undated, accessed June 2019
  8. Donors, University of Louisville, undated, accessed June 2019
  9. B. Rodu, P. Cole, A deficient study of smokeless tobacco use and cancer, International Journal of Cancer 118: 1585; author reply 1586-1587, October 2005, accessed June 2019
  10. abS. Glantz, Addiction refuses to allow discussion of industry ties to criticism of our “softening paper”, University of California, San Francisco, 3 May 2016, accessed June 2019
  11. J.D. Debethizy, D. J. Doolittle, B. Rodu, Follow up from Brad Rodu, 2000 April 26, RJ Reynolds, Tobacco Industry Truth Documents, Bates no: 527942927-527942928, accessed June 2019
  12. S. C. Hawkins, TTM – Brad Rodu for 122006 (20061200).PPT RJ Reynolds, 1 December 2008, accessed June 2019
  13. Heartland Institute, Brad Rodu, undated, accessed June 2019
  14. J. Smith, S. Thompson, K. Lee, The atlas network: a “strategic ally” of the tobacco industry, International Journal of Health Planning and Management 2016, DOI: 10.1002/hpm.2351
  15. Center For Media and Democracy, Heartland Institute and tobacco, Sourcewatch, last edited on 25 January 2019, accessed June 2019
  16. R. Street, Brad Rodu, undated, accessed June 2019
  17. S. Glantz, J. Nitzkin, Nitzkin and Glantz email string, University of California, San Francisco, 2013, accessed October 2020
  18. KAC Communications, GFN 2019 Speakers & Poster Presenters Biographies, GFN website, 2019, accessed June 2019
  19. TPE 2013, TPE 2013 Keynote: Thursday, January 31, 2013 TPE website, accessed May 2016
  20. GTNF ANTWERP 2012: Look who is talking and what they are talking about, GTNF 2012 website, undated, accessed January 2012
  21. GTNF ANTWERP 2012: Look who is talking and what they are talking about, GTNF 2012 website, undated, accessed April 2012
  22. TR Staff Report. Strong Line Up. Tobacco Reporter, July 2011, accessed August 2011
  23. British American Tobacco, Harm reduction symposium, 22 April 2008
  24. European Smokeless Tobacco Council, 1st Tobacco Harm Reduction Symposium: An Alternative Strategy for Smokers. 13 September 2007
  25. B.Rodu, Email to the University of Bath, 15 May 2018