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Research priorities

All applications must address one or more of TRDRP’s nine research priorities.

The Tobacco-Related Disease Research Program of California (TRDRP) administers the portion of state retail taxes on tobacco products that are designated for research within California. This unique source of funding supports investigators at eligible California institutions whose research contributes directly to the elimination of smoking and the use of tobacco products and mitigates the human and economic costs of tobacco product use in California. In November 2016, California voters passed Proposition 56 — the California Healthcare, Research and Prevention Tobacco Tax Act of 2016 which increased the retail tax on tobacco products by $2. Under the 2019 call for applications, TRDRP awarded over $57 million dollars to 28 institutions across California.

All applications must address one or more of TRDRP’s nine research priorities which are:

Purpose: TRDRP supports research projects on diseases not included in TRDRP priority areas 1-9, as long as the disease has been identified as being causally associated with tobacco smoking in the Report of the Surgeon General or if tobacco-related products or their constituents are integral to the proposed study.

Please see Appendix A for details.

Tobacco-related disease remains a research focus. In addition to tobacco policy, treatment, and prevention research, TRDRP is only accepting applications that substantially focus on tobacco-related diseases for all award types. The criteria for determining whether a proposal is eligible include:

  1. Projects in which tobacco products or constituents are integral to the proposed study.
  2. Studies focused on cancers that the Report of the Surgeon General has identified as being causally linked to tobacco or tobacco products.
  3. Studies focused on oral diseases, cardiovascular diseases, pulmonary diseases, and other diseases that the Report of the Surgeon General has identified as being causally linked to tobacco or tobacco products.
  4. Observational or laboratory studies of co-use of tobacco products with other substances including cannabis.
  5. Health behavior and health policy research focused on tobacco prevention, treatment, or regulation.

New and emerging tobacco products that deliver nicotine in various ways are increasingly being used, especially by adolescents.  Similarly, flavored tobacco products are very popular among youth and other priority populations, yet little is known about the effects of these additives when inhaled.  TRDRP strongly encourages proposals analyzing the toxicology and health effects of flavorings.  In addition, studies on the effects of nicotine itself, especially in animal models and human subjects, are strongly encouraged. Given the variability of ingredients in e-liquids, it is critical that investigators quanitfy the actual chemical composition, including nicotine and flavoring chemicals, in the substances being tested.

RESEARCH AWARDS must directly address tobacco-related health disparities or new and emerging tobacco products. In an effort to more closely align our most generous awards with the most urgent questions in tobacco control, proposals for the award type Research Awards must focus on tobacco-related health disparities or research on new and emerging tobacco products. Please refer to the Research Award description for eligibility criteria.

Sex as a biological variable. Consistent with NIH, we now require applicants proposing experiments with biological endpoints to determine whether the sex of an animal model or human subject should be considered a biological variable in designing their experiments.

As explained in “Applying the new SABV (sex as a biological variable) policy to research and clinical care,” Physiology & Behavior 187 (2018) 2–5 “Sex originates from an organism’s sex chromosome complement – XX or XY chromosomes in in humans, and is reflected in the reproductive organs.Considering SABV is not the same as looking for sex differences, but it is about exploring the influences of sex as a biological variable and revealing the “data hiding in plain sight.” Applicants can review the paper in Physiology & Behavior here:

The following points are taken verbatim from the article:

  • First, before conducting research, find out whether there are known sex differences in the area of study by adding the terms sex, gender, male, and female to your literature search. In addition to PubMed, use the GenderMed database.
  • Second, randomize and balance the sexes in the study and control groups. If you are testing a pharmaceutical, consult the FDA snapshot page, which provides information about sex differences in drug metabolism and effects for recently approved drugs.
  • Third, if sex differences are suspected, e.g., from the literature search, conduct pilot studies to determine whether powering the study to detect sex differences is warranted.
  • Fourth, in the analyses of the data, regardless of whether the study was powered to detect sex differences, disaggregate the data to see if there are differences that are hidden when data from males and females are pooled. Analyze key relationships for males and females separately.

Applicants should clearly state the method that was used to determine whether sex should be used as a biological variable in their study.

Cannabis use and tobacco-related diseases. There remains a critical need to understand the intersection of cannabis and tobacco. The biological and population level impact of these products in combination is of particular interest to inform effective health policy. Applications that include cannabis must also be related to tobacco use, tobacco policy, or tobacco-related disease. Please refer to the TRDRP cannabis research policy for additional guidance. (

NOTE: To avoid conflicts with federal and state regulations, investigators are strongly encouraged to refer to their institutional policy on conducting cannabis research before designing studies involving cannabis. Also, if research using cannabis is proposed applicants are required to describe the status of their Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) license for the use of a Schedule I drug.

Out-of-state expenses. Due to the mandate that Proposition 56 research dollars must be used within California, a close review of out-of-state budget justification requests will be made. Only a very limited number of projects with out-of-state expenses can be funded.

Letter of Intent (LOI) process. Submission of an LOI is required for all new and resubmitted applications, with the exception of the Rapid Response Research to Accelerate Policy Award and the Community-Partnered Participatory Research Award. LOIs will be programmatically reviewed by TRDRP staff to verify consistency with the requirements and adherence with TRDRP research priorities as described in this call. Applicants must provide sufficient detail in their LOI abstract and specific aims to allow program staff to assess scientific eligibility at the LOI stage. LOIs will not be invited to submit a full application if they do not comply with the tobacco-related disease research requirement (any award type), or if they do not comply with the “tobacco-related health disparities or new and emerging tobacco products” requirement (Research Awards only).

TRDRP encourages applicants to contact TRDRP program officers with questions regarding eligibility requirements before submitting an LOI or application. Once an LOI is approved, the applicant will be notified and the application materials will be made accessible to the applicant.

Follow the link below to access some resources that describe the theoretical framework and application of Community Engagement in academic research. The listed resources are not exhaustive. Investigators are encouraged to consider evidence-based and novel approaches to engage community residents and organizations in a manner that is complementary to the proposed research project.

Please take a look at our FAQ to find out more, for example how a biomedical scientist can incorporate community engagement into their study.