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Mackay California-Pacific Rim Tobacco Policy Scholar Award

Opportunities for mid-career researchers from diverse disciplinary backgrounds to gain mentored experience and skills necessary to provide leadership in development and implementation of state, country and region-wide tobacco control policies. Mackay Scholar Awards are offered by the TRDRP as part of the program’s mandate to support tobacco-related public policy research as well as its translation and application.

These awards bear the name of Dr. Judith Mackay, in acknowledgement of her leadership and success in advancing tobacco control policies throughout the Asia-Pacific Rim and in recognition of the increasingly global nature of these policy challenges.

NOTE: Mackay California-Pacific Rim Tobacco Policy Scholar Award is open throughout the year. Please contact TRDRP staff for details. 

The aim of this policy scholar grant award is to foster scientifically informed, evidence-based tobacco control policy and practice in California and the Pacific Rim region (Asia, Pacific Islands and Latin America) by building leadership and cross-regional partnerships among mid-career researchers. Scholars engage their professional and cultural competencies, strengthen their research and communications skills and develop partnerships and networks, while learning firsthand about policymaking and implementation at state, national and international levels.


TRDRP seeks candidates with doctorates or equivalent degrees from diverse disciplinary, gender and cultural perspectives and with interest in, ties to and/or experience in the Pacific Rim region, including Latin America. Candidates are required to be at or beyond the mid-career stage (i.e., 5 years post- terminal degree), must reside in the state and hold an independent research position or visiting faculty appointment at a California applicant/host institution. Candidates with economics and legal backgrounds are particularly encouraged to apply.

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

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

Maximum duration: 3 years

Allowable direct costs: Salary and benefits, training/mentoring expenses, supplies, and travel

Training/mentoring expenses: $40,000


  • Travel to TRDRP conference: $750 (mandatory)
  • Travel to scientific conferences, placement, and training sites: Up to $10,000 per year (excluding a mandatory allocation of $750 in one year of the award 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.

Policy scholar award requirements:

  • Applicants must have a doctoral or equivalent degree.
  • Applicants must be at least 5 years post completion of his/her terminal research degree or 5 years post-completion of medical residency (or the equivalent) at the start of the award.
  • Applicants must hold an independent research position (or a commitment for a visiting faculty appointment) at a California-based research institution. For the purpose of this award, “independent research position” means a position that automatically confers eligibility, by the applicant’s institutional policy, for an investigator to apply for extramural grants, with an appropriate commitment of facilities to be used for the conduct of the proposed research.
  • Awardees must commit at least 35 percent of their effort each year to activities supported by the Policy Scholar Award.
  • U.S. citizenship is not a requirement.

Key training elements:

The recipient(s) of this award will identify key tobacco policy issues relevant to California policy priorities that also have relevance to policy efforts in one or more areas of the Pacific Rim. Examples of these policy issues include product pricing and taxation, trade agreements, regulation of new nicotine products and availability and accessibility of nicotine treatment, among others. It is envisioned that tobacco policy partners who originate in other Pacific Rim countries also will be identified (supported by other funding sources available to the applicant institutions or other TRDRP funder partners) as co-participants in the training program in order to realize the potential for bi-directional learning and to strengthen the impact of these policy efforts.

Towards this end, the mentor(s) interest in and experience with California and Pacific Rim tobacco policy issues, as well as their access to regional and global training resources, are critical to the quality and impact of the scholar’s experience, achievement of policy goals and long term career success. The application process includes a comprehensive description of the proposed mentors and training experience including:

  • Clear process and deliverables to:
    • Identify a key policy issue with relevance to California as well as the Pacific Rim
    • Frame a policy position or positions
    • Inform policy development and implementation through a range of channels and methods
  • Training to strengthen policy research, leadership, and communication skills including:
    • Mentored development and implementation of a research project relevant to the scholar’s tobacco policy objectives
    • Mentoring with senior researchers and policy advocates (California and Pacific Rim)
    • Participation in state and/or regional tobacco control networks (e.g., Southeast Asia Tobacco Control Alliance)
    • Government office placement (e.g., state legislature; finance or health agencies/ministries)
    • Policy and research seminars
    • Leadership training (e.g., Bloomberg)
    • Media training (e.g., Stanford-NBC News, World Lung Foundation)
    • Economics of tobacco (e.g., Asian Development Bank)
    • Litigation and legal challenges (e.g., Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids International Legal Consortium)

Review criteria:

Criteria-1 (40 percent scoring weight)

Candidate’s research background and professional accomplishment

  • Solid and relevant research/professional education and employment/work experience in area of expertise, appropriate to mid-late career stage
  • Record of grants and publications and/or presentations appropriate to mid-late career stage, field, and institutional setting

Candidate’s leadership and potential

  • Prior leadership roles relevant to mid-late career stage (e.g., governance or faculty committees; advisory or editorial committees; active in professional societies, non-profit, or community initiatives)
  • Skill/potential to organize, build consensus, lead projects and people toward positive outcomes
  • Confidence, maturity and self-direction with the capacity, initiative and flexibility to work well independently as well as in groups, to make the fellowship a rich and positive experience, to apply skills learned through the fellowship and take advantage of networks developed.

Candidate’s communication, interpersonal and outreach skills

  • Excellent communication skills: articulate, cohesive, concise, rational flow of information, and clear in both context and detail
  • Ability to convey research data and scientific knowledge in broader, non-scientific contexts.
  • Capacity to work effectively with diverse stakeholders and government officials outside research and scientific communities

Commitment to fellowship mission and opportunities

  • Clarity of and commitment to objectives for applying to the fellowship, and how he/she imagines using the fellowship experience in the future to influence tobacco-related public policy in the California-Pacific Rim region
  • Willingness and flexibility to tackle issues beyond area of expertise, openness and capacity to expand experience in the policy realm, and to interact with policymakers and regulators
  • Realistic expectations, open-minded and adaptable to fellowship opportunities, as well as working through challenges

Criteria-2 (30 percent scoring weight)

Mentor(s) research/scientific background and professional accomplishment

  • Mentor(s) solid and relevant research/professional education and experience in area of expertise and evidence to the application of this background to the advancement of tobacco-related public policy, particularly in California and the Pacific Rim
  • Mentor(s) solid and relevant grants and record of publications and/or presentations appropriate to tobacco-related public policy

Training program, experiences and opportunities

  • Quality of training program in its ability to strengthen the candidate’s ability to play a sustained leadership role in informing the tobacco-related public policy in the California-Pacific Rim region
  • Extent to which institutional, regional, national and international collaborations and partnerships and existing resources are leveraged in the design and provision of training opportunities

Criteria-3 (30 percent scoring weight)

Significance of the policy issue(s) of interest

  • Does the candidate’s research and policy interest(s) address an important problem? If the aims of the application are achieved, how will they advance evidence-based tobacco policy in the California-Pacific Rim region? What will be the effect of these analyses and studies on the development of tobacco policy in general?
  • Strength of the research plan
  • Are the conceptual framework, design, methods and analyses adequately developed, well integrated, well-reasoned and appropriate to the policy aims of the project? Does the applicant acknowledge potential problem areas and consider alternative strategies?