End the Lies: Youth Vaping and Nicotine Research Initiative

Funding Agency:
American Heart Association

The AHA is committing up to $20 million to fund two or three (2-3) bold, ground-breaking research projects focused on the health impacts of nicotine and nicotine delivery products in children and youth. The AHA seeks to accelerate desperately needed answers about the health effects of e-cigarettes and other novel nicotine delivery devices (ENNDs) and how to prevent and/or reverse the developing epidemic of nicotine addiction, among children and youth (defined as 15-24 years of age).

As rates of combustible cigarette use fell to historic lows, the tobacco industry devised a novel way to addict a new generation of customers to their nicotine products. E-cigarettes have been falsely marketed as safer for users, less intrusive to others, and an effective means for quitting combustible tobacco. The reality is the biological impacts of the myriad chemicals delivered via the various types of available e-cigarettes and other novel nicotine delivery  devices (ENNDs) on multiple organ systems (heart,  brain,  lungs,  vasculature,  etc.) are largely unknown, especially among vulnerable children and youth - who are still growing. The difficulty in defining the etiology of the recent outbreak of vaping-related lung disease and deaths is an additional tragic  validation of this urgent gap in knowledge.

There is also insufficient data on behavioral factors, specific social influencers, and policies on initiation, dual-use, addiction, and/or cessation across or between diverse populations. Policymakers, regulators, medical professionals and parents are seeking strategies, policies,and  solutions, but the scientific evidence to inform these efforts is in many cases inadequate as understanding of the long-term effects of nicotine addiction in children and youth have been inadequately researched.

Deadline: Jan. 7, 2020

Agency Website

Areas of Interest

The AHA is uniquely positioned to launch a bold research initiative addressing key gaps in basic, clinical, and behavioral science related to e-cigarette use and nicotine addiction in children and youth. Based on the latest available and emerging evidence, the AHA has identified a number  of  topics of priority interest; however, they should not be considered exclusive. Innovative, original research proposals leading to rapid discovery will be of the highest interest.

  • Nicotine’s impact on adolescent brain development, intelligence and learning;
  • The physiological impact of nicotine and other e-cigarette  chemicals;
  • The role and influence of device type, flavors and other e-cigarette chemicals and byproducts on addiction;
  • How to reverse nicotine addiction in youth using behavioral, pharmacological and/or mobile health technology solutions;
  • Natural history and progression of  ENNDs use, including dual-use, transitions to/from combustible tobacco, and cessation effectiveness, with a focus on equity and variations among populations; 
  • The impact of policies eliminating flavors, imposing sales age restrictions and restricting marketing practices on youth e-cigarette use

It is recognized that the gap in research on children and youth is due to appropriately stringent legal and ethical standards that have made conducting these studies difficult. Nevertheless, major advances in understanding nicotine and e-cigarette use  in  children  and  youth  are  dependent on studies in these populations. Thus, studies must be in children and/or youth, or have direct applicability to addressing use in these populations. Proposals with animal studies will be considered if they demonstrate clear applicability to the problem in human populations.

Eligibility Requirements

Applicants are expected to select a domestic or international Principal Investigator (PI) and an integrative team that will leverage diverse skills and perspectives to address a compelling selection or combination of the above or equally compelling relevant topics. The members, and thus the perspectives of the integrative team, might include researchers and clinicians as well as biomedical specialists, sociologists, psychologists, business, fiscal, lay adult and/or children stakeholders or other experts as required. Fellowships and training within the projects are welcome, but not required.

Research Leaders are expected to demonstrate the following or equivalent attributes:

  • Ph.D. and/or M.D. or strong research experience and success
  • Ability to develop new tools and methods that support creative, experimental approaches, utilizing techniques from other disciplines, if needed/appropriate
  • Creativity in scientific ideas and commitment to take risks on forward-looking concepts of major scientific impact
  • U.S. government employees are not eligible

We  seek  and  strongly  encourage  applications  from  women  and  members  of  racial  and/or  ethnic  groups  that  are  under-represented  in  biomedical  sciences. 

Awardees  will  be  invited  to  and  expected  to  attend  symposia,  conferences  and  other  gatherings  of  American  Heart  Association  researchers.  These  events  offer  time  for  cross-fertilization  of  leading-edge  research  ideas  and  new  collaborative  opportunities.




Amount Description

The AHA will grant competitive research awards of up to $10 million over two years to two or three (2-3) highly inspiring and innovative integrated team(s). 

Funding Type



Women and minorities encouraged


Community Outreach and Engagement
Environmental & Life Sciences
Medical - Basic Science
Medical - Clinical Science
Medical - Translational
Social Sciences

External Deadline

January 7, 2020