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High Impact Research Project Award

Conduct next phase/fully developed research based on promising preliminary or formative data gathered through prior pilot research. High quality of innovation and clear potential for impact are also key components of this award.

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

Proposals should include sound background information, hypotheses and substantial and promising preliminary or supporting data. Proposals should reflect a clear progression beyond the earliest phases of the work. Research project applications should not be exploratory in nature and lacking in previously developed strong supporting data. 

In an effort to more closely align funding with the most urgent questions in tobacco control, High Impact Research Projects submitted for the first time in cycle 2019A must focus on tobacco-related health disparities or research on new and emerging tobacco products.

Eligibility criteria:

1. Research on reducing tobacco-related health disparities in priority groups and research that promotes a smoke-free life and environment among the following priority groups1 (alphabetical listing) and other groups with high rates of tobacco use:

  • Current members of the military and veterans
  • Individuals employed in blue-collar jobs, agriculture, and the service industry
  • School-aged youth and young adults
  • Incarcerated and formerly incarcerated individuals
  • Individuals with mental illness, including substance use disorders
  • People of low socioeconomic status, including the homeless
  • People with disabilities
  • People with limited education including, high school non-completers
  • Pregnant and breastfeeding women
  • Racial/ethnic minorities (e.g., African Americans, American Indians and Alaska Natives, Asian Americans, Latinos, Native Hawaiians and other Pacific Islanders, and individuals identifying with multiple racial groups)
  • Rural residents
  • Sexual/gender minorities (e.g., Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender people)

2. Research on new and emerging tobacco products including electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes), electronic nicotine delivery devices (including heat not burn devices), nicotine gels, hookah (water pipe tobacco), dissolvable tobaccos, other new smokeless tobaccos (snus), atomizers, vaping tanks and mods.2

1Researchers may focus on other priority groups as long as they provide a rationale to support including other groups disproportionately impacted by tobacco use and tobacco-related diseases.

2Researchers may focus on other new and emerging tobacco products as long as they provide an explanation of the new and emerging nature of the tobacco product they propose to study

High Impact Research Project Award overview:

Must clearly address tobacco-related health disparities or new and emerging tobacco products.

Maximum award amount per year: $250,000 (direct costs)

Maximum duration: 3 years

Allowable direct costs: Salaries, fringe benefits, supplies, sub-contracts*, equipment**, travel


  • Project-related travel: As needed (must be fully justified)
  • Travel to TRDRP conference: $750 (mandatory)
  • Scientific conference travel: $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 25 percent.

*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.

**Any item costing $5,000 or more

Award requirements:

  • Applicants must have a PI-status at the sponsoring institution.

  • Awardees are required to commit at least 10 percent of their effort each year to activities supported by this award.

  • U.S. citizenship is not a requirement.

Review criteria:

Criteria-1 (30 percent scoring weight)

  • Responsiveness to intent of the award type: Does the study focus on health disparities and/or new and emerging tobacco products? 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 stated 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?  Does the applicant acknowledge potential problem areas and consider alternative strategies?

Criteria-3 (20 percent scoring weight)

  • Investigators: Are the 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, advocates, policymakers and the general public?

Other considerations

  • Budget: Assess whether the budget request is appropriate for the project, whether there is scientific or budgetary overlap and whether 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 subjects also 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.