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Inaugural Proposition 56 funding supports innovative research into the prevention, detection and potential cures of life-threatening diseases caused by tobacco use

The Tobacco Related Disease Research Program (TRDRP) has funded its first round of research grants drawing from Proposition 56, a 2016 voter initiative to increase state tobacco taxes.  Fifty-three grants totaling more than 30 million dollars were selected for funding after being rigorously reviewed by peer scientists from institutions outside of California. “We had a phenomenal response to our first call for applications using Proposition 56 funds”, said Bart Aoki, PhD, Director of TRDRP, “the review process was very competitive, and we are excited to launch the selected projects.”

While smoking has been steadily declining in the developed world, it continues to persist especially in minority communities, disproportionately affecting their health and wellbeing. At the same time, new tobacco products, such as different types of electronic (e-) cigarettes, continue to be developed and though they are advertised as healthier alternatives to traditional cigarettes, very little is actually known about their effects on people’s tobacco use patterns and health. Add to that the expanding use of Marijuana following legalization in California, and the complexity of co- or multi-use of different delivery devices and different substances is evident.

The research grants in this round of funding were awarded in TRDRP’s eight research priority areas, reflecting a commitment to address all aspects of tobacco use from understanding the basic mechanisms that drive tobacco-related diseases, to developing better methods for preventing, detecting and curing them:

Cancer Prevention, Treatment and Biology


Cardiovascular and Cerebrovascular Disease


Environmental Exposure and Toxicology


Neuroscience of Nicotine Addiction and Treatment


Oral Disease and Dental Health


Pulmonary Biology and Lung Diseases


State and Local Tobacco Control Policy Research


Tobacco-Related Health Disparities


The grants from this first Proposition 56 funding round were awarded to nineteen California institutions.  These institutions ranged from the Chinese Community Health Resource Center, for a cessation intervention targeted specifically at Chinese-Americans, to traditional research institutions like Stanford, The University of Southern California (USC), the California Institute of Technology and various University of California campuses.

Sixteen of the grants went to early-career researchers in a bid to grow the pipeline of tobacco-related disease researchers in California.  A grant to graduate student Patricia Escobedo at USC supporting “Spatial Analysis of Tobacco Outlets, Vape Shops and Cannabis Retailers” will produce research to support evidence-based policy making at the state and local levels.  A grant to postdoctoral researcher Pritam Sinha Roy at Stanford University will shed light on how genetics may influence the effect of chemical exposure from e-cigarettes on the heart.   One of the New Investigator Awards, limited to researchers with less than five years of independent research experience, will provide Tien Peng of UCSF with the support needed to understand specific molecular events that go awry in tobacco-induced emphysema, laying the groundwork for developing new therapeutic approaches that could help correct such molecular abnormalities in the lungs of patients with this debilitating disease.

TRDRP is currently in the midst of its second award cycle of this fiscal year.  Applicants will be notified of their funding status June 1, 2018 and awards are scheduled to commence July 1, 2018.