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New Investigator Award

This award is specifically designed to support new investigators in an independent research program in their research career in the focus areas covered under TRDRP research priorities.

All applications must address one or more of our nine research priorities and must be tobacco-related.

Maximum award amount per year: $200,000 (direct costs)

Maximum duration: 3 years

Allowable direct costs: Salaries, fringe benefits, supplies, publishing, sub-contracts*, equipment (costing more than $5,000), travel


  • Project-related travel: As needed (must be fully justified)
  • Travel to TRDRP conference: $750 (mandatory)
  • Scientific conference travel: Up to $2,000 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 30 percent, or 26 percent for projects conducted off-campus.

*All out-of-state sub-contracts and collaborations must be well-justified; please note that funding for out-of-state expenses are extremely limited and TRDRP does not encourage such expenses.

Award requirements:

  • TRDRP New Investigator Award applicants must have PI-status at the sponsoring institution at the time of award start date.
  • Please note that the New Investigator awards offered by the NIH are different from those offered by TRDRP. TRDRP New Investigator Awards are not mentored awards and require an independent PI status at the sponsoring institution. Applicants who do not currently have PI status are required to submit a letter from their Department Chair stating that the applicant will be granted PI status by the award start date.
  • Awardees are required to commit at least 50 percent of their effort each year to activities supported by this award
  • At the time of award start date, no more than five years should have elapsed since an applicant completed formal postdoctoral training, or since the doctoral degree if no postdoctoral training. Some applicants may have lapses in their research or research training, or may have periods of less than full-time effort. TRDRP will consider requests to extend the new investigator eligibility period for reasons that may include but are not limited to: medical conditions, disability, family care responsibilities, clinical training, natural disasters, or active duty military service. These exceptions will be determined on a case-by-case basis at the sole discretion of TRDRP. Please briefly describe the reason for the requested extension and the number of months for the requested extension in your Letter of Intent.
  • If a New Investigator Award application is resubmitted, the eligibility period is based on the award state date of this Call for Applications.
  • Applicant must enter the end date of last postdoctoral training, as listed in their Biographical Sketch.
  • U.S. citizenship is not a requirement

Review criteria:

Criteria-1 (30 percent scoring weight)

  • Responsiveness to intent of the award type: Is the study fully developed rather than pilot or exploratory in nature? Does the study build upon work performed as part of prior pilot work? Do the aims expand and/or advance the scope of the prior study? Does the applicant describe previous research upon which the study is based and report reasonably compelling previous findings and supporting data for the conduct of the proposed project?
  • Tobacco-relatedness: To what extent does the application focus on tobacco prevention, treatment, regulation, or tobacco-related disease?
  • Innovation: Does the 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? Does the proposed research represent more than an incremental advance? For example, does the project challenge existing interventions, clinical practice or policy; address an innovative hypothesis or critical barrier to progress in the field?

Criteria-2 (50 percent scoring weight)

  • Significance: Does this study 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 the field of tobacco-related research or any of the research priorities?
  • Research plan: Are the conceptual framework, design (including composition of study population and strength of recruitment plan), methods and analyses adequately developed, well-integrated and appropriate to the aims of the project? Has the applicant adequately considered whether the sex of an animal model or human subject should be considered a biological variable in designing their experiments? Does the applicant acknowledge potential problem areas and consider alternative strategies?
  • Near-term leveraging potential: When the TRDRP-funded studies under a New Investigator Award are completed, is there compelling promise and high likelihood that their results will constitute a larger R01-level or P01-level study with high probability of funding from another agency such as the NIH? With TRDRP funding of the proposal, can the applicant leverage funding from other sources to further develop this area of research within two to three years after initial funding?

Criteria-3 (20 percent scoring weight)

  • New Investigator status and research team: Does the PI applicant strongly fit the criteria for the New Investigators Award? Is the research team 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 go beyond the research community and include channels and tools targeting clinicians, public health practitioners, advocates, policymakers and the general public?

Other considerations:

  • Budget: Appropriateness of the budget request for the project, scientific or budgetary overlap and degree to which out-of-state contracts or collaborations are essential for the project.

  • 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 human subjects will 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.