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Association-wide Established Investigator Award

AHA forms and instructions are updated for each deadline. Check the Supporting Documents for the program to be sure you have the most up to date information.

Application Deadline: July 26, 2016

Award Activation:  Jan. 1, 2017

The application must be submitted by 5:00 p.m. Central Time in Grants@Heart on the deadline date. The application will be submitted to the designated grant officer, who will submit it to the American Heart Association (AHA).

Program Description, Eligibility and Peer Review Criteria

Success Rates


To support mid-career investigators with unusual promise and an established record of accomplishments; candidates have a demonstrated commitment to cardiovascular or cerebrovascular science as indicated by prior publication history and scientific accomplishments.  A candidate's career is expected to be in a rapid growth phase.

Science Focus

Research broadly related to cardiovascular function and disease and stroke, or to related clinical, basic science, bioengineering or biotechnology, and public health problems, including multidisciplinary efforts.


Proposals are encouraged from all basic, behavioral, epidemiological, and community and clinical investigations that bear on cardiovascular and stroke problems.

Target Audience

At the time of application must:

  • Have M.D., Ph.D., D.O. or equivalent doctoral degree
  • Be a faculty/staff member
  • Have current national-level funding as a principal investigator (or co-PI) on an R01 grant or its equivalent (e.g., VA Merit Award, NSF Grant, or PI of a project on a Program Project Grant from NIH). NIH "K" series awards are not considered equivalent to R01.

To encourage submissions from clinical investigators, epidemiologists, and translational scientists, individuals with significant funding from national-level peer reviewed clinical and multicenter trials and/or other clinically-oriented grants will be considered (e.g., U01, UL1, and equivalent awards).

At the time of award activation must:

  • be at least four (4) years but no more than nine (9) years (i.e., eight years and 12 months) since the first faculty/staff appointment at the assistant professor level or equivalent (including, but not limited to, research assistant professor, research scientist, staff scientist, etc.).  Instructor positions (or equivalent positions) do not count toward the four or nine years of eligibility.


At the time of application, must have one of the following designations:

  • U.S. citizen
  • Permanent resident 
  • Pending permanent resident. Applicants must have applied for permanent residency and have filed form I-485 with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services and have received authorization to legally remain in the United States (having filed an Application for Employment Form I-765).
  • H-1B Visa - temporary worker in a specialty occupation
  • J-1 Visa - Note: You must have an H-1B or equivalent by the award activation date.  If the H-1B or equivalent is not received by the award activation date, the award must be relinquished. 
  • O-1 Visa - temporary worker with extraordinary abilities in the sciences
  • TN Visa - NAFTA professional
  • E3 - specialty occupation worker
  • G-4 Visa - family member of employee of international organizations and NATO

Awardee must meet American Heart Association citizenship criteria throughout the duration of the award.

Abbreviated Proposal

The Established Investigator Award's abbreviated proposal format is not the same as those used for traditional grants-in-aid or individual NIH research grants (R01).  The 10 pages of the proposal in the EIA describe past research accomplishments, the potential of the EIA to provide new directions and innovations, and broadly discuss projected research studies; the application should not contain detailed protocols or focus heavily on the design or interpretation of individual experiments. The applicant should clarify how this proposal differs from other funded projects, or how these funds will be used to expand upon other projects.

Location of Work

American Heart Association research awards are limited to non-profit institutions, including medical, osteopathic and dental schools, veterinary schools, schools of public health, pharmacy schools, nursing schools, universities and colleges, public and voluntary hospitals and other non-profit institutions that can demonstrate the ability to conduct the proposed research.  Applications will not be accepted for work with funding to be administered through any federal institution or work to be performed by a federal employee, except for Veterans Administration employees.

Funding is prohibited for awards at non-U.S. institutions.

Exception: An investigator may be allowed to request approval to conduct work outside the United States temporarily.

Budget - Association-wide Established Investigator Award

Annual Award Maximum Amounts

Salary/Fringe: Unrestricted in accordance with institutional and AHA policies

Indirect: Not to exceed $7,273 (10 percent, included within the total annual amount of $80,000)

Project Support: Salaries of technical personnel essential to the conduct of the project, supplies, equipment, travel, volunteer subject costs, and publication costs.  No minimum effort requirement.  Special consultative services from individuals may be requested, provided the circumstances are fully described in the application. Unrestricted in accordance with institutional and AHA policies

Total Annual Award Amount: $80,000 (including up to 10 percent indirect costs)

Award Duration:  Five years; non-renewable

Peer Review Criteria

Applicants should never contact reviewers regarding their applications. Discussing scientific content of an application or attempting to influence review outcome will constitute a conflict of interest in the review. Reviewers must notify the AHA if an applicant contacts them.

To judge the merit of the application, reviewers will comment on the following criteria. Please be sure that you fully address these in your proposal.

Generally the candidate and the innovativeness of the science are being evaluated.  The first two of the following criteria must be met to be competitive.  The remaining factors enter into the deliberations, but the relative weight given to each may differ from case to case.

  1. Demonstrated commitment to cardiovascular or cerebrovascular diseases: Has the research program of the candidate focused on basic or applied science related to cardiovascular or cerebrovascular disease? Does the applicant indicate a clear commitment to cardiovascular/cerebrovascular research in the proposed studies?  Do the proposed studies illustrate this commitment?
  2. Investigator Independence: Independence is assessed by publications and research funding as a principal investigator. Is the candidate established as an independent investigator?
  3. Investigator potential: The investigator's potential for scientific and career growth should be assessed by several factors.  These include the applicant's number, quality and independence of publications in peer-reviewed journals, previous research accomplishments, and relevant experience.  Do the reference letters and department head letter support the conclusion that the candidate's career is in a rapid growth phase?  Is it likely that the investigator will have an impact on the field?
  4. Prior or current independent national-level awards; does the candidate's track record regarding funding provide evidence for independence, excellence and potential for future success?  Has the candidate held independent national awards, such as an NIH R01and/or equivalent? (e.g., VA Merit Award, NSF Grant, or PI of a project on a Program Project Grant from NIH). NIH "K" series awards are not considered equivalent to R01. Note: To encourage submissions from clinical investigators, epidemiologists, and translational scientists, individuals with significant funding from national-level peer reviewed clinical and multicenter trials and/or other clinically-oriented grants will be considered (e.g., U01, UL1, and equivalent awards).
  5. Innovative, novel research direction: Described in the abbreviated application. Is the research direction described by the candidate likely to lead to significant contributions?  Does the candidate pose an innovative research direction that challenges existing paradigms or critical barriers to progress in the field? Does the candidate propose to develop or employ novel concepts, approaches or technologies? Does this research direction address an important problem related to cardiovascular disease or stroke?
  6. Award impact on career development: Impact should be assessed based on the letters from the department head and references. Is it clear that the award will propel the career development of the candidate?
  7. Environment: Does the scientific environment in which the work will be done contribute to the probability of success?  Do the proposed studies benefit from unique features of the scientific environment, or subject populations, or employ useful collaborative arrangements?  Is there evidence of institutional support?
  8. Impact: How does this project relate to and support the mission of the American Heart Association to building healthier lives, free of cardiovascular diseases and stroke?


  • An investigator may not hold more than one AHA award concurrently. Exception(s): an investigator may hold two association grants (affiliate and association-wide) concurrently if all three apply:
    1) There will be no more than six months remaining on the initial award.
    2) The projects have no overlap in specific aims.
    3) There is no budgetary overlap between the two projects

    An investigator may hold the Established Investigator Award and the Innovative Research Grant.
  • Applications from current or past recipients of association advanced investigatorships (such as the Established Investigatorship or Established Investigator Grant) are not eligible. An awardee may hold the Established Investigator only once.  This award is non-renewable. 
  • An applicant may submit an Established Investigator application and Innovative Research Grant application in the same application cycle, if desired.
  • If eligible, an applicant may simultaneously submit an application to an affiliate and to the association-wide award program.  The proposed research plan may need to be adjusted based upon different length of award and dollars available.  The deadline dates may be different for each submission.  If both are funded, the applicant must choose one award.
  • An applicant who is unsuccessful in a competition may resubmit the same or similar application three times (the original plus two resubmissions). The same or similar application submitted for the fourth time will be administratively withdrawn.