February 23, 2024

American Heart Association invests in the future of heart and brain health research

More than 100 scientists from across the US are receiving special grants to support their research work to find innovative solutions to fight heart disease and stroke. The grants, worth $20 million, are part of the Second Century Science Initiative of the American Heart Association, the world’s largest voluntary organization dedicated to longer, healthier lives. The financial awards are announced as the Association, the largest non-governmental supporter of heart and brain health research in the US, prepares to celebrate its 100th anniversary.th anniversary in 2024 and will be funded for a period of three years from July 1, 2023 to June 30, 2026.

When the American Heart Association was founded in 1924, heart disease was considered a death sentence and we knew even less about stroke and other types of cardiovascular disease. It is through the dedication and passion of thousands of scientific explorers who have come before us that we have learned so much about how to diagnose, treat and even prevent most of these conditions. But too many lives are still lost as these remain the leading causes of death worldwide. Even with all the knowledge we have there are gaps, especially in ensuring health and providing health care to people in diverse and underrepresented populations. That’s why research projects like the Second Century Science Initiative are so important to our future.”


Joseph C. Wu, MD, Ph.D., FAHA, volunteer president of the American Heart Association, who is director of the Stanford Cardiovascular Institute and the Simon H. Stertzer, MD, Professor of Medicine & Radiology at the Stanford University School of Medicine

A total of 111 separate grants were awarded in three different categories:

  • AHA Second Century Applied Science Award – 19 early and mid-career investigators will each receive $400,000 to advance their research into cutting-edge strategies that can be implemented in clinical and community settings to ultimately improve the health of individuals and populations. These research projects may address policies, programs or individual clinical practice, with unique strategies to address critical barriers or gaps in ensuring the health and well-being of all individuals.
  • AHA Early Second Century Faculty Freedom Award – 33 investigators in the early years of their first professional medical/academic research appointment will receive a total of $300,000 for research focused on critical emerging priorities for the next century. Those areas may include technology-influenced healthcare and diagnostics (ie, artificial intelligence/machine learning approaches, telemedicine, biosensors and wearables); new and emerging therapeutics (ie genome editing therapies, regenerative therapies and bioengineered foods); environmental impacts on health (ie direct and indirect effects); and research and solutions for issues affecting an aging population and shrinking healthcare workforce. Awardees will also have opportunities to serve on American Heart Association scientific and research councils and committees and engage with the Association’s scientific leadership for mentoring connections.
  • Clinical Fellow Research Education Program – Directors of 59 accredited cardiology and neurology fellowship programs will receive funding to support training and mentoring opportunities for clinical fellows enrolled in their programs. A fellow is a doctorate-level medical doctor or health professional who has completed their degree and general residency program and is now training or conducting research in a health specialty. The funding will allow up to five fellows per year from each program to attend the American Heart Association Scientific Sessions or the American Heart Association / American Stroke Association International Stroke Conference, as well as engage in other medical specialty events and activities that will help them gain knowledge and expertise as research scientists.

“Research has been at the heart of the American Heart Association since its inception, and we recognize that scientific research remains the most important way to ensure longer, healthier lives for everyone,” said Mariell Jessup, MD, FAHA, the Association’s chief scientific and medical officer. “As we embark on the next century of lifesaving work, we are excited to support bold, innovative investigators like those leading this new initiative, to address the challenges of today and tomorrow.”

The American Heart Association has funded more than $5 billion in cardiovascular, cerebrovascular and brain health research since 1949, making it the single largest nongovernmental supporter of heart and brain health research in the U.S. New knowledge resulting from this funding benefits millions of people across the U.S. and around the world.

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