Testing Electronic Nicotine Delivery System Flavors for Their Ability to Enhance Nicotine Addiction
Over the past two decades, combustible cigarette smoking has decreased by approximately 11% in the United States. However, the use of electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS) has increased by 78% among high school students in the past year alone. Although ENDS products were initially intended to be a smoking cessation aid for lifelong smokers, these products have become a new craze among the adolescent population for the popularity of flavored products. Currently there are over 15,000 ENDS flavors to choose from and many users prefer zero-nicotine flavored e-liquids. With the current knowledge on the effects adolescent nicotine exposure has on the developing brain and recent findings that ENDS flavors may enhance nicotine’s actions while exhibiting addictive properties on their own, it is important to determine the pharmacology of ENDS flavorants on nicotinic acetylcholine receptors (nAChRs) in the addiction-related circuitry of the brain (midbrain). The goal of this research is to investigate the pharmacology of ENDS flavors on nAChRs to further understand the pharmacological changes that trigger enhancements in nicotine addiction.
I am honored and humbled to be a recipient of the PhRMA Foundation Predoctoral Fellowship in Pharmacology/Toxicology. This award has allowed me the opportunity to broaden the information we have on ENDS products and contribute to the knowledge we have on the effects that ENDS flavors have on nicotine addiction. Furthermore, this award has provided me with the resources, networking connections, and travel opportunities to succeed as a research-scientist.