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The center is designed to serve the Valley and includes researchers from the region. Professor Mariaelena Gonzalez, one of the center’s lead researchers, grew up in Calaveras County, and postdoctoral fellow Anna Epperson is a long-time Stanislaus County resident and one of the first recipients of a UC Merced Ph.D.

NCPC researchers will work in Valley communities with regional partners — including the American Heart Association (AHA), Healthy House Merced and local public health departments — to study issues such as smoking bans, smokeless tobacco, e-cigarettes, vaping and marijuana use to produce empirical research that informs tobacco and cannabis policy and accurately reflects real issues facing Valley residents.

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