Research of Sharon Allen

headshotSharon Allen, MD, PhD, was one of the first researchers nationally to examine the connection between sex hormones and tobacco cessation. As Principal Investigator on multiple RO1s from the National Institute of Health over the past 25 years, she has participated in a body of literature that suggests that the presence of progesterone - such as in the luteal phase of the menstrual cycle - attenuates smoking behaviors and withdrawal symptoms.

Dr. Allen’s NIH-funded studies have examined the role of progesterone, allopregnanolone, and estradiol on smoking behaviors, using pregnancy and birth control as clinical models. Her research currently focuses on the effects of comorbidities in women who are quitting smoking, particularly with depression, hormone replacement therapy, and pregnancy. A recent feasibility trial looking at postpartum tobacco relapse utilized randomized interventions of progesterone and placebo. Another recent grant explored progesterone versus placebo in men and women to see if relapse rates are impacted.

She is also Co-Investigator on multiple NIH National Cancer Institute (NCI) studies, including the Consortium on Methods Evaluating Tobacco (COMET) and an examination of oxidative damage of e-cigarettes. She serves as co-research director of the leadership team of Building Interdisciplinary Research Careers in Women’s Health (BIRCWH) at the University of Minnesota.

Over the years, Dr. Allen has guided dozens of students through research projects, many of whom received grants from the Minnesota Academy of Family Physicians and published abstracts and articles. She also teaches the Medical School’s Essentials of Clinical Medicine (ECM) course, for which she served as course director for over 20 years.

As a family physician, Dr. Allen sees patients at the Women’s Health Specialists Clinic and the Primary Care Clinic in Minneapolis.

Grant-funded studies

2012-17, NIH/NIDA, PI, "Sex Differences and Progesterone: Association with Impulsivity and Smoking Cessation"

2015-17, NIH/NIDA, PI, “Sex Differences and Progesterone: Associations with Impulsivity and Marijuana Reduction in Co-Users of Marijuana and Nicotine Cigarettes”

2012-17, NIH, co-director, "Sex Differences and Progesterone: Effects on Impulsivity, Smoking, and Cocaine Abuse"

2012-18, NIH, PI, "Smoking, Sex Hormones, and Pregnancy"