The purpose of this notice is to communicate NIDA’s interest in supporting research on the effects of smoking or vaping tobacco or marijuana on the risk of acquiring COVID-19 and the clinical course of the infection.
Background: The COVID-19 pandemic is causing devastating effects throughout the world, particularly in the US where an ominous record of over 200,000 deaths is being recorded seventh months after the first case. Terrible health, social and financial consequences of the pandemic have gravely impacted our society. COVID-19, notorious for attacking the upper airways and the lungs, is highly contagious and carries extreme morbidity and mortality, particularly in the elderly and in individuals with co-morbid conditions such as obesity, hypertension, diabetes mellitus, chronic obstructive pulmonary disorders, asthma, cancer, and chronic HIV and immunosuppressive conditions.
During this pandemic, requirements of “Stay-at-Home” to reduce exposure, social isolation, lack of employment and lost incomes have raised the level of anxiety among individuals and may have led to increased use of tobacco and marijuana. Therefore, it is scientifically relevant to explore the medical consequences of smoking and vaping and the effects of tobacco and marijuana exposure in relation to COVID-19. Of relevance are studies in individuals at the forefront of indispensable jobs, in individuals with substance-use disorders (SUD) (narcotics, stimulants, sedatives, etc.), in individuals with HIV and other immunocompromised populations, in disenfranchised minorities, and in adolescents whose lives have been distorted by the pandemic. Remarkably, vaping nicotine and marijuana have risen sharply in the past 3 years among adolescents and young adults, a phenomenon that may increase vulnerability of these individuals to COVID-19 infection. Whereas mortality appears lower in adolescents and young adults, they can suffer from respiratory or cardiovascular long-term morbidity at a time they can be significant transmitters of infection.
COVID-19 virus attaches to the angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE 2) receptor, abundant in cardiac, lung, renal, liver and vascular organs, triggering massive cytokine responses. Recent studies suggest possible pathogenic roles between nicotine and angiotensin-2 receptors, investigations which are critical for understanding the multisystem pathogenesis of COVID-19, in which bradykinins and pro-inflammatory cytokines and chemokines play significant roles. Thus, studying the medical consequences of smoking and vaping in most vulnerable populations is of scientific relevance, especially in the elderly; in individuals with diabetes mellitus, hypertension or obesity; in individuals with chronic diseases of organs and systems rich in ACE-2 receptors; and in SUD and HIV populations.
Research Objectives: NIDA is interested in receiving research applications focusing on individuals who smoke or vape either marijuana and/or tobacco to determine: 1) the risk of contracting a COVID-19 infection, 2) the effects on asymptomatic COVID-19 infected persons, and 3) the course of the COVID-19 infection.
This NOSI encourages research to understand:
- The risks that smoking or vaping tobacco or marijuana may have on acquiring the COVID-19 infection.
- The medical consequences, co-morbidity, and complications of COVID-19 infection in individuals who smoke or vape tobacco or marijuana.
- The medical consequences of COVID-19 in individuals who smoke and vape with comorbid conditions such as: SUD, HIV and other immunosuppressive diseases, mental health disorders, diabetes mellitus, obesity, cardiovascular, pulmonary, renal, and hepatic pathologies, as well as cancer.
Application and Submission Information
This notice applies to due dates on or after January 7, 2021and subsequent receipt dates through September 8, 2024.
Submit applications for this initiative using one of the following funding opportunity announcements (FOAs) or any reissues of these announcement through the expiration date of this notice.
- PA-20-183 - NIH Research Project Grant (Parent R01 Clinical Trial Required)
- PA-20-200 - NIH Small Research Grant Program (Parent R03 Clinical Trial Not Allowed)
- PA-20-195- NIH Exploratory/Developmental Research Grant (Parent R21Clinical Trial Not Allowed)
All instructions in the SF424 (R&R) Application Guide and the funding opportunity announcement used for submission must be followed, with the following additions:
- For funding consideration, applicants must include “NOT-DA-20-084” (without quotation marks) in the Agency Routing Identifier field (box 4B) of the SF424 R&R form. Applications without this information in box 4B will not be considered for this initiative.
Applications nonresponsive to terms of this NOSI will not be considered for the NOSI initiative.