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California STAR Award (SA)

Purpose: To support the early career development of scientists who have a demonstrated commitment to excellence in tobacco-related research and have strong potential to be leaders in their field. Support is intended for select investigators who have recently been recruited and appointed to a position as an independent faculty member by a California-based research institution. A unique component and requirement of this early career award is the development of a plan for community engagement and dissemination of research results to the community at large.

All applications must address one or more of our six research priorities.

Anticipated Number of Grants: Up to 2

Maximum Award Amount per Year: $100,000 (direct cost)

Maximum Duration: up to 3 years

Allowable Direct Costs: Salaries, fringe benefits; supplies; equipment*, travel

Project-Related Travel: As needed (must be fully justified)

Travel to TRDRP Conference: Maximum $750 (mandatory)

Scientific Conference Travel: $5,000 per year (excluding a mandatory allocation of $750 in one year of the project for travel to the TRDRP Conference)

Indirect Costs: Full indirect costs are allowed to non-UC institutions. Indirect costs to UC campuses are capped at 25%.

Other: The funds need to be directed to the PI’s activities, such as staff salary support, consumables or equipment

*Any item costing $5,000 or more

Early Career Award Requirements:

  • Applicants for the STAR award should be within 10 years of completing his/her terminal research degree, or should be within 10 years of completing medical residency (or the equivalent).
  • Applicants must also be in their first independent research position at a California-based research institution at the time of submission and be within three years of having started this position at the inception of the award.  For the purpose of this award, “independent research position” means a position that automatically confers eligibility, by the applicant’s institutional policy, for an investigator to serve as Principal Investigator on grants, with an appropriate commitment of facilities to be used for the conduct of the proposed research.

  • Applicants with independent research position and currently funded independent grant are eligible to apply, although current funding is not a requirement of the award. 

  • Investigators still in training or mentored status (postdoctoral fellows) or are current recipients of mentored career development awards (e.g., NIH-K’s, ACS-MRSG) are not eligible to apply.

  • Awardees are required to commit at least 25% of their research effort each year to activities supported by the California STAR Award.

  • U.S. citizenship is not a requirement.

Review criteria:

Impact (scored separately): The applicant’s potential for achieving a clear, short-term or long term impact on tobacco-related disease research, tobacco use prevention, tobacco treatment, or policy. This includes (1) scientific impact in a sustained manner on the specified tobacco-related research field or, (2) a targeted impact on tobacco use in specific communities, or (3) direct impact on issues governing state and local policies related to tobacco use and control or any combination of these three components.

Criteria-1 (30% scoring weight)

Responsiveness to intent of the award type: Is the applicant a promising early career investigator recently recruited and appointed to an independent research
position by a California-based institution with an aim of strengthening the institution’s scientific leadership in tobacco-related research? Does the applicant contribute towards achieving and/or strengthening a critical mass of institutionally based tobacco-related researchers?

Innovation: Does the investigator’s research propose new paradigms, challenge existing paradigms, or is it otherwise highly creative in one or more of the following ways: the concept or question, research methods or technologies, adaptations of existing methods or technologies to new uses or with understudied populations?

Criteria-2 (50% scoring weight)

Significance: Does the investigator’s research address an important problem? If the aims of the application are achieved, how will they advance scientific knowledge or
clinical practice? What will be the effect of these studies on the concepts, methods, technologies, treatments, services, or preventative interventions that drive this field of tobacco-related diseases, tobacco control, community-based research, nicotine addiction, prevention or policy?

Research plan: Are the conceptual or clinical framework, design, methods, and analyses adequately developed, well integrated, well-reasoned, and appropriate to the aims of the project? Does the applicant acknowledge potential problem areas and consider alternative strategies?

Criteria-3 (20% scoring weight)

Investigators: Are the applicant and any co-investigators appropriately trained and well suited to carry out this work? Is the work proposed appropriate to the experience level of the PD/PI and other researchers? Does the investigative team bring complementary and integrated expertise to the project (if applicable)?

Environment: Does the scientific environment in which the work will be done contribute to the probability of success? Do the proposed studies benefit from unique features of the scientific environment, or subject populations, or employ useful collaborative arrangements? Is there evidence of institutional support?

Community engagement and communication plan: Does the applicant propose a sound approach to engaging communities affected by tobacco-use in either a collaborative partnership or by proactively informing about the nature and significance of the research and research outcomes? To what extent does the dissemination of findings include channels and tools targeting clinicians, public health practitioners, tobacco control advocates, policy makers, and the general public?

Criteria-4 (non-scoring)

Protection of human subjects from research risk: If human subjects are involved, protections from research risk relating to their participation in the proposed research will be assessed.

Inclusion of women, minorities and children in research: If human subjects are involved, the adequacy of plans to include subjects of both genders, all racial and ethnic groups (and subgroups), and children as appropriate for the scientific goals of the research will be assessed. Plans for the recruitment and retention of subjects will also be evaluated.

Care and use of vertebrate animals in research: If vertebrate animals are involved in the project, plans for their care and use will be assessed.