Suzaynn F. Schick, PhD

Suzaynn F. Schick, PhD

Assistant Adjunct Professor, UCSF School of Medicine, Division of Occupational and Environmental Medicine

Phone: (415) 206-5904

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Cancer Center Membership

Associate Member » Tobacco Control» Cancer Control

Research Summary

I study the health effects of air pollution in human subjects. I focus on the chemistry and toxicity of smoke and on how smoking and using electronic cigarettes can cause heart and lung disease. My analysis of tobacco industry research showed that sidestream cigarette smoke (the primary constituent of secondhand cigarette smoke) is more toxic than the smoke that smokers inhale and that secondhand smoke becomes more toxic as it ages.

I have published three controlled human exposure studies on the health effects of secondhand cigarette smoke which show that:

1. A single 30-minute exposure to fresh sidestream cigarette smoke, at 350 micrograms of particles per cubic meter, decreases flow-mediated dilation of the brachial artery and increases plasma VEGF and endothelial progenitor cell motility. (These changes can increase the risk of heart attack.)

2. For each increase in SHS exposure by 100 µg/m3 particles, the absolute maximal percent brachial artery flow-mediated dilation was reduced by 0.67%. (Even a little smoke can increase the risk of heart disease.)

3. A single 30-minute exposure to aged cigarette smoke, at 1000 µg/m3 particles, increases nasal congestion in healthy human subjects. (Nasal congestion can lead to sinus infections.)

My research on the chemistry and toxicity of cigarette smoke has helped define a new health risk from smoking: thirdhand cigarette smoke. Thirdhand smoke is the tiny droplets of oils and waxes (tar) that stick to surfaces, like walls, furniture, clothing and hair. Thirdhand smoke cannot be removed by ventilation. Many of the toxins and carcinogens in smoke linger for days, months and years after the cigarettes are gone. My laboratory is funded by the California Tobacco-Related Disease Research Program to study how humans absorb thirdhand smoke from the environment. My laboratory is also funded by the FDA and the NIH to study the cardiovascular effects of tobacco and nicotine delivery products. I am member of the California Thirdhand Smoke Consortium, the UCSF Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center and the UCSF Center for Tobacco Control Research and Education. My goals are to understand how smoke causes heart attacks and respiratory disease and to educate society on the true impact that air pollution has on human health.


  • University of Washington    B.S.    1986-1989    Cell and Molecular Biology
  • University of California, San Francisco    Ph.D.    1991-2001    Biomedical Science
  • University of California, San Francisco    Postdoc    2002-2006    Public Health
  • University of California, San Francisco    Postdoc    Feb 2006-Sept 2007    Inhalation Toxicology

Professional Experience

  • 1989-1991    
    Research Technician, University of Washington, Department of Zoology
  • 2001
    Title X Intern, Planned Parenthood Golden Gate
  • 2007    
    Assistant Adjunct Professor, UCSF School of Medicine, Division of Occupational and Environmental Medicine

Honors & Awards

  • 1991
    National Science Foundation Predoctoral Fellowship

Selected Publications

  1. Xu B, Chen M, Yao M, Ji X, Mao Z, Tang W, Qiao S, Schick SF, Mao JH, Hang B, Xia Y. Metabolomics reveals metabolic changes in male reproductive cells exposed to thirdhand smoke. Sci Rep. 2015; 5:15512.
    View on PubMed
  2. Hang B, Sarker AH, Havel C, Saha S, Hazra TK, Schick S, Jacob P, Rehan VK, Chenna A, Sharan D, Sleiman M, Destaillats H, Gundel LA. Thirdhand smoke causes DNA damage in human cells. Mutagenesis. 2013 Jul; 28(4):381-91.
    View on PubMed
  3. Suzaynn F. Schick, Kathryn F. Farraro, Jiaxi Fang, Sarah Nasir, Justin Kim, Donald Lucas, Hofer Wong, John Balmes, D. Ken Giles, and Bryan Jenkins. Aerosol Science and Technology. An Apparatus for Generating Aged Cigarette Smoke for Controlled Human Exposure Studies. 2012; (46):1246-1255.
    View on PubMed
  4. Shusterman DJ, Weaver EM, Goldberg AN, Schick SF, Wong HH, Balmes JR. Pilot evaluation of the nasal nitric oxide response to humming as an index of osteomeatal patency. Am J Rhinol Allergy. 2012 Mar-Apr; 26(2):123-6.
    View on PubMed
  5. Schick SF, Glantz SA. Old ways, new means: tobacco industry funding of academic and private sector scientists since the Master Settlement Agreement. Tob Control. 2007 Jun; 16(3):157-64.
    View on PubMed
  6. Schick S, Glantz S. Philip Morris toxicological experiments with fresh sidestream smoke: more toxic than mainstream smoke. Tob Control. 2005 Dec; 14(6):396-404.
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  7. Glantz, Stanton A Schick, Suzaynn F. Implications of ASHRAE's guidelines for ventilation in smoking permitted areas. ASHRAE Journal. 2004; 3(46):54-61.
    View on PubMed

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