Electronic cigarettes (EC) have gained popularity due to their perception as a less harmful alternative nicotine delivery device compared to cigarettes. However, diversity and rapidly evolving EC market poses a challenge for the regulators, researchers and users alike to understand the devices and their potential harms or benefits. This translational project builds upon the candidate?s education and training as a basic scientist, and aims to provide the candidate with training and research experience to examine EC design features for potential toxicity/harm in human studies. Specifically it addresses a critical gap relating to oxidant levels in EC and their associated health effects. The candidate will conduct controlled standardized inhalation studies as well as naturalistic studies to determine the effects of EC temperature and solvent content on biomarkers of exposure and harm in EC users. The candidate will also conduct an exploratory study to systematically investigate exhaled breath condensate as a novel, non-invasive medium to identify EC-specific biomarkers. The metabolomics profiles will be used to distinguish cigarette smokers from EC users and non-smokers, and to identify within-subject differences before and after product use. Research findings from this proposal will provide important data directly relevant to the development of regulatory product standards. With a mentorship team of experts in tobacco regulatory sciences, controlled human inhalation studies, biomarkers of tobacco exposure and harm, and the support of the Penn State, the candidate will emerge as a translational researcher contributing to our understanding of toxicity and health effects of tobacco products.
Even though perceived as a less harmful alternative to conventional cigarettes, little is known about health consequences of long-term use of electronic cigarettes. Using rigorously controlled exposure studies and real- world studies, our proposal will examine validated and novel tobacco-related biomarkers of diseases. It will provide data on internalized toxicant dose and downstream biological consequences may be used to provide information electronic cigarette design features that can be developed to reduce the intrinsic toxicity of electronic cigarettes and inform regulatory decisions.