Seven teams competed in the first annual Tobacco Regulatory Science Student Competition, hosted as part of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and National Institutes of Health (NIH) funded Center for Research on Flavored Tobacco (CRoFT) at the University of Rochester and Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center.  CRoFT is one of nine Tobacco Centers of Regulatory Science (TCORS) nationally, funded to support Tobacco Regulatory Science research to inform regulation of tobacco products.  Teams proposed a wide range of novel solutions to address the seven priority areas identified by the Center for Tobacco Products at the FDA.  From developing new sensors to detect particles to utilizing artificial intelligence to enhance targeted communications regarding the effects of tobacco products, this year’s competition was full of innovation.

The top three proposals are summarized below.  The first and second place winners will present their ideas in person at the FDA and NIH.  Congratulations to all!

First Place: MJ23

Zahira Quiñones Tavares, doctoral student in Translational Biomedical Science at the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry.

Traditionally, campaigns developed to address emerging tobacco products use among youth have been based on national survey data and content analysis of social media. We propose the use of deep learning techniques to identify possible themes in a timely manner to help design effective prevention campaigns and programs.

Second Place:  Smoke on the Water

Akshika Sharma, doctoral student in Cancer Science at the Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center.

Electronic cigarette juices contain a variety of flavorants, most of which aren’t well characterized. Analysis and comparison of the effects of the most popularly used flavors on salivary profile (IgA, antioxidants and enzymes) is a convenient way to look at their initial toxic effects that could help in determining policies related to their marketing.

Third Place:  Ending the ENDS Epidemic

Caitlin Price, masters student in Public Health at the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry.

An e-cigarette risk awareness campaign that emulates the marketing techniques used by e-cigarette companies is proposed. This will include point-of-sale ads (similar to those used in FDA’s Every Try Counts campaign), bright colors, sleek designs, utilizing social media influencers, etc. This campaign will be designed to communicate the specific risks of vaping.

The Tobacco Regulatory Science (TRS) Student Competition is organized by Scott Steele, Ph.D. and Deborah Ossip, Ph.D., directors of the CRoFT Career Enhancement Core, and is supported by the National Cancer Institute of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Center for Tobacco Products under Award Number U54CA228110. The TRS Competition is based on a Regulatory Science Competition developed by the University of Rochester Clinical and Translational Science Institute (CTSI) Regulatory Science Program.  Additional information on CTSI Regulatory Science initiatives is available here.  The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the NIH or the FDA.

Images from the student competition presentations and poster session at the CRoFT meeting