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2018-B Call for applications

We fund research that contributes to the elimination of smoking and tobacco use and mitigates the human and economic costs of tobacco use in California.

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 tobacco use and mitigates its human and economic costs 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. This resulted in a substantial increase in funds available for research. With this influx of new dollars, TRDRP is exploring innovative strategies to maximize the impact of research and keep administrative costs at a minimum. This Call for Applications contains the first phase of programmatic changes from the early stages of an extended strategic planning process.

To get started:

  1. Determine your eligibility for funding
  2. Explore our eight research priorities
  3. Review the 2018 award types and dates and deadlines
  4. Familiarize yourself with our letter of intent and application processes
  5. Contact a program officer with any questions
  6. Use proposalCENTRAL to submit your LOI and/or proposal

If you prefer to view the call for applications as a single document:

Call for applications (pdf)

Highlights of the 2018 award cycle

Cross-cutting emphasis on research to reduce health disparities. TRDRP-funded research has contributed to the steady decline in California smoking rates over three decades. Cigarette smoking and use of other tobacco products, however, remain disproportionately high in many California communities and contribute directly to the high rates of cardiovascular disease, lung and oral disease, cancer and other tobacco-related diseases in those communities. Research also shows that current community education and prevention efforts and state policies do not go far enough to protect these same communities from being targeted by the tobacco industry. In addition to the grave impact on these communities, these health disparities result in increased healthcare costs and reduced access to care throughout California. All TRDRP research priorities will encourage studies designed to directly address disparities in tobacco use and the diseases that result.

Expanded cancer research priority. In recent years, TRDRP only accepted proposals for cancer research projects that focused on early detection of the disease. In accordance with the broadened scope of biomedical research mandated by Proposition 56, TRDRP has expanded its cancer research priority beyond early detection to include cancer prevention, cancer health disparities, translational research and basic science. Projects focusing on tobacco-related diseases remain a priority; however, proposals to study any form of cancer now will be accepted.

New research emphases in lung, cerebrovascular and oral disease. Cancer and heart disease are the tobacco-related diseases most known to the public, but tobacco use is linked strongly to other diseases such as COPD, stroke and poor dental health. To encourage more research into these diseases, their relationship to tobacco use and their connection to other tobacco-related diseases, TRDRP has expanded research priorities in these areas.

Cannabis use and tobacco-related diseases. Californians legalized medical marijuana (cannabis) in 1996, and 20 years later legalized cannabis for recreational use. Still, very little is known about the impact of cannabis use. There is a paucity of rigorous peer-reviewed studies on the potential benefits and harms of cannabis use, and it is extremely difficult for lawmakers to create informed meaningful policies regarding cannabis availability and use. TRDRP now is calling specifically for proposals to study the relationship between cannabis use and tobacco-related diseases. Investigators are strongly encouraged to refer to their institutional policy on conducting cannabis research before designing their study to avoid conflicts with federal and state regulations. Please refer to the TRDRP cannabis research policy.

New award types to expand the research pipeline. Training individuals to perform robust research is key in the battle against tobacco use and the environmental and medical harms to Californians. TRDRP is implementing new research supplemental and training awards to fill previous gaps in our portfolio and provide funding to train individuals at all stages of the educational pipeline – from high school students to independent investigators.

Expand funding levels and duration of research award types. The total amount and duration of TRDRP awards have declined steadily in recent TRDRP funding cycles because of the decline in tobacco tax revenue. With passage of Proposition 56, TRDRP is now able to increase award levels and years of funding for all research award types.

Additional funding cycle in 2017-18. To facilitate the anticipated increase in the volume of applications, there will be two receipt dates and review cycles for fiscal year July 1, 2017 – June 30, 2018. This will allow TRDRP the administrative structure to maintain a high quality of peer review of all applications.

Expedited Letters of Intent (LOI) process. The processes for submitting a LOI to TRDRP and for performing the administrative review are expedited for this cycle. The LOI process will collect limited details about the proposed project for determining adherence to TRDRP research policies and objectives. Once an LOI is submitted and approved, then application materials will be accessible on proposalCENTRAL to begin the application preparation.


Investigators from California not-for-profit organizations are eligible for TRDRP funding, including but not limited to colleges, universities, hospitals, laboratories, research institutions, local health departments, community-based organizations, voluntary health agencies, health maintenance organizations and other tobacco control groups. The sponsoring institution, in accordance with its own policies and procedures, should designate the principal investigator (PI). The PI must supervise the research project and any trainees directly and in person. U.S. citizenship is not a requirement for eligibility.

A mandate of Proposition 56 funding is that all research dollars must be used within California. Since the bulk of TRDRP research funds are from Proposition 56, the majority of projects funded in the upcoming TRDRP cycles must be performed entirely within California. TRDRP research funding, however, comes from multiple sources, and there is a small amount of funding for projects with out-of-state components. In those cases, part of the work may be done outside California if the need to do so is well-justified.

In accordance with UC policy, PIs who are UC employees and who receive any part of their salary through UC must submit grant proposals through their UC campus contracts and grants office. Exceptions must be approved by the UC campus where the PI is employed.

Applicants can now resubmit their recently unfunded applications in the two funding cycles immediately following their original submission cycle. Please refer to Key Dates for the specific resubmission deadline dates. If the application is resubmitted after the two subsequent cycles, it will be considered a new application and the peer-review process will not consider previous critiques.


Submission of a Letter of Intent (LOI) is required to apply for all research awards except for Special Projects, Scientific Conference Award and Cornelius Hopper Diversity Award Supplements. The LOI must be submitted through proposalCENTRAL. You will have access to the application template web pages if the LOI is approved, at which time you will receive an email notification. In order to be considered for a programmatic review, a LOI must be submitted using the template available on proposalCENTRAL and must address all sections listed there-in. LOI submission instructions should be strictly followed as stated.

For technical help with proposalCENTRAL, please email or call 800-875-2562 (Toll-free U.S. and Canada). proposalCENTRAL customer support is available Monday to Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. (EST).

Review Process and Funding Decisions

Applications will be grouped by priority area and reviewed in a study section by experts from outside of California. The criteria for evaluating applications are described under each specific award type section. The TRDRP and its Scientific Advisory Committee will first stratify scientifically meritorious tobacco-related research applications, and will then stratify scientifically meritorious applications that address the expanded priorities areas described in this Call for Applications.

For more information about the funding process visit the TRDRP website.