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Nancy C. Jao, PhD

Nancy  C. Jao, PhD
Assistant Professor

Dr. Nancy Jao (she/her) is an Assistant Professor and the Director of the Health, Behaviors, and Tobacco Use (HaBiT) Research Lab in the Department of Psychology at RFUMS. Dr. Jao completed her Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology with an emphasis in Behavioral Medicine/Health Psychology at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. She completed her clinical psychology internship at the Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University, and remained as a NIH Post-Doctoral Research Fellow funded by National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) T32 Cardiovascular Behavioral Medicine Research Fellowship. She joined the Department of Psychology at RFUMS in 2022.

Research Interests

Dr. Jao’s program of research focuses on utilizing a translational science approach to understand the impact of tobacco products and characteristics (e.g., flavoring, additives, nicotine content) on dependence and health outcomes. She is particularly interested in examining underlying biobehavioral relationships to understand the impact of smoking on biological processes to contribute to nicotine dependence and health disparities. Her work has also examined tobacco use in vulnerable and minoritized populations, including pregnant women, racial minorities, and clinical populations.

Dr. Jao’s current research focuses on understanding the behavioral and health effects of characterizing flavors in combustible tobacco products to help regulatory agencies identify and quantify the potential impact of public policies. Her current research project funded by NHLBI and U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) aims to examine the effect of menthol cigarette use on biomarkers of cardiovascular health. Utilizing biological measures and ecological momentary assessment, her study will aim to understand how a ban of menthol as a characterizing flavor in combustible cigarettes may impact individuals’ behaviors and health outcomes.

Connect with Dr. Jao on Twitter at @njao2.

Are You a Prospective Graduate Student?

Dr. Jao will be reviewing applications for the Clinical Psychology PhD program for the 2024-2025 academic year.

Current Lab Members

Helena S. Blumenau, BA (she/her)

Research Assistant

Helena Blumenau joined the HaBiT Research Lab as a research assistant in July 2023. She holds a B.A. in both Neuroscience and Psychology from Lake Forest College. Currently, she is also pursuing a M.S. in Applied Statistics, Analytics and Data Science from University of Kansas Medical Center. Helena’s research interests are focused on substance use and addiction, particularly in relation to nicotine products. With her background in both biology and psychology, she seeks to explore the intersection between these two fields concerning substance use. 

Vanessa Y. Fishel, BS (she/her)

1st Year Clinical Psychology PhD Student

Vanessa Fishel joined the HaBiT Research Lab as a Clinical Psychology PhD student in August 2023. After graduating with a B.S. in Psychology from the University of Pittsburgh, Vanessa worked as a research assistant in the Center for the Evaluation of Nicotine in Cigarettes (CENiC) on clinical trials research examining the effects of reduced nicotine cigarettes on cessation, and then in the Clinical Neurophysiological Research Lab (CNRL) examining biomarkers for psychosis using EEG, MEG, and fMRI/MRI. She has also worked as a Project Manager on the Texas Twin Project investigating individual differences in behavioral genetics. Vanessa’s work experience has allowed her to gain familiarity with various research methodologies, including neuroimaging, behavioral genetics, biomarkers, and survey data. Her research interests lie in using these and other modalities to investigate factors related to smoking cessation, including stigma, relapse, and long-term health outcomes.

Recent Publications (Selected)

Jao NC, Papandonatos GD, Stanfield J, Borba K, Stroud LR. Characterizing the use, preferences, and perceptions of flavors in cigars in pregnant women. J Addict Dis. 2023 Feb 3;:1-11. doi: 10.1080/10550887.2023.2170703. [Epub ahead of print] PubMed PMID: 36734291; NIHMSID:NIHMS1875444.

Jao NC, Martinez-Cardoso A, Vahora M, Tan MM. The role of smoking history in longitudinal changes in C-reactive protein between Black and White older adults in the US. Prev Med Rep. 2022 Aug;28:101885. doi: 10.1016/j.pmedr.2022.101885. eCollection 2022 Aug. PubMed PMID: 35855919; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC9287345.

Stroud LR, Papandonatos GD, Jao NC, Niaura R, Buka S, Benowitz NL. Maternal nicotine metabolism moderates the impact of maternal cigarette smoking on infant birth weight: A Collaborative Perinatal Project investigation. Drug Alcohol Depend. 2022 Apr 1;233:109358. doi: 10.1016/j.drugalcdep.2022.109358. Epub 2022 Feb 17. PubMed PMID: 35247723; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC8977115.

Jao NC, Sokol NA, Vergara-Lopez C, Borba K, Scott-Sheldon LAJ, Stroud LR. Use and perceptions of menthol versus non-menthol cigarettes among pregnant women. J Addict Dis. 2022 Apr-Jun;40(2):247-253. doi: 10.1080/10550887.2021.1981123. Epub 2021 Nov 9. PubMed PMID: 34751106; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC9058148.

Jao NC, Gueorguieva R, Hitsman B, Sofuoglu M. Acute effects of inhaled menthol on cognitive effects of intravenous nicotine among young adult cigarette smokers. Addict Behav. 2021 Nov;122:107022. doi: 10.1016/j.addbeh.2021.107022. Epub 2021 Jun 18. PubMed PMID: 34174551; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC8328965.

Jao NC, Levin ED, Simon MA, Hitsman B. Differences in Cognitive Task Performance, Reinforcement Enhancement, and Nicotine Dependence Between Menthol and Nonmenthol Cigarette Smokers. Nicotine Tob Res. 2021 Oct 7;23(11):1902-1910. doi: 10.1093/ntr/ntab120. PubMed PMID: 34086950; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC8691064.

Please see Dr. Jao’s MyBibliography for a complete list of her published work.