A Fred Hutchinson researcher has received a $3.1 million grant from the National Cancer Institute to test his popular SmartQuit stop-smoking app.

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A Seattle smoking-cessation researcher has received a $3.1 million, five-year grant from the National Cancer Institute to conduct a gold-standard trial of a promising stop-smoking app.

Dr. Jonathan Bricker, a behavioral scientist at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, will use the funds to update his SmartQuit smoking-cessation program and use it in a randomized, controlled trial comparing the effectiveness of such programs delivered via mobile apps.

“These are exciting times in the mobile-health space,” Bricker said in a statement. “There is a wide chasm between what is available on the market … and what is actually proven to work.”

Bricker plans to launch a national study next year involving more than 1,600 adult smokers to compare SmartQuit with an app that follows existing U.S. clinical-practice guidelines for smoking cessation.

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Bricker’s work focuses on what’s known as acceptance and commitment therapy, or ACT, to help people quit smoking and other unhealthy behaviors. Instead of targeting willpower and avoiding urges, ACT focuses on increasing willingness to accept the physical, mental and emotional challenges of quitting, while also adopting behaviors based on new values.

The new trial follows a pilot study of SmartQuit conducted in collaboration with the University of Washington and 2Morrow Mobile. That study, which made the larger clinical trial possible, was funded by a $140,000 grant from the Hartwell Innovation Fund established by Dr. Lee Hartwell, former Fred Hutch president and director.