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AHA Institutional Research Enhancement Award (AIREA)

Application Deadline: Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Award Activation: July 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


To support small-scale research projects related to cardiovascular diseases and stroke at educational institutions that provide baccalaureate or advanced degrees but that have not been major recipients of NIH support.

The award supports any part of the full range of research and development from very basic to clinical.

The goals of the program are to:

  1. Support meritorious research
  2. Expose students to research
  3. Strengthen the research environment of the institution.

Science Focus

Funding is available for research broadly related to cardiovascular function and disease, stroke, or to related clinical, basic science, and public health problems. The program should be focused on basic, epidemiological and/or clinical disciplines that bear on cardiovascular and stroke problems. The extent to which the focus of the project is related to cardiovascular disease and/or stroke is an important factor that will be considered in the evaluation of the proposal. However, the principal investigator is not required to be a part of a cardiovascular/stroke-oriented laboratory, clinic or department.


Institutional Eligibility

  • Only domestic accredited public or non-profit institutions of higher education are eligible. Federal government institutions are not eligible.
  • The institution must grant baccalaureate or advanced degrees in the biomedical or behavioral sciences. For example, a four-year liberal arts college.
  • To be eligible to apply for this AHA award, the applicant’s institution may not have received more than $6 million per year in NIH support in each of four of the last seven years.

    Institutions with Health Professional Schools or Colleges

    For institutions composed of multiple academic components (i.e., schools or colleges), the criterion of financial eligibility is based on the amount of NIH research grant monies received, not by the institution (university) as a whole, but by the individual health professional school/college or by the sum of "Other Academic components" (as defined in this section) where the PD/PI has a primary appointment (e.g., School of Arts and Science, School of Medicine, College of Nursing, School of Pharmacy, etc.).

    • Health professional school or college: Accredited public or non-profit private school/college that grants a terminal health professional degree (e.g., MD, DDS, DO, PharmD, BSN, DVM, DrPH, OD, DPT, DC, ND, DPM).
      • Accreditation must be provided by a body approved for such purpose by the Secretary of Education.
      • Health professional schools/colleges that meet the above requirements may include schools or colleges of medicine, dentistry, osteopathy, pharmacy, nursing, veterinary medicine, public health, optometry, allied health, chiropractic, naturopathy and podiatry.
    • Other academic components: Once the health professional schools/colleges have been excluded, the financial eligibility of the Other Academic component is determined by the sum of all remaining schools, colleges, and free-standing institutes of the institution (university).

Institutions Ineligible for Academic Research Enhancement Awards (AREA) and Ineligible for this AHA Award

The following is a list of institutions, and their relevant components (defined above), that are currently financially ineligible to apply for AREA funding, thereby making them also ineligible for this AHA award.  NIH updates this list annually in April. An application from an institution that becomes ineligible after the application is submitted will remain under review and in consideration for funding.
List of Ineligible Institutions (03/28/2016)

Principal Investigator Eligibility

  • The PI must have a primary appointment at an AREA-eligible institution.
  • While no minimum percent effort is specified, the principal investigator must demonstrate that adequate time will be devoted to ensure successful completion of the proposed project.


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

  • United States citizen.
  • Permanent resident.
  • Pending permanent resident (any resident who has an approved I-765 form and has submitted an I-485 application with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services)
  • E-3 Visa - specialty occupation worker.
  • H1-B Visa - temporary worker in a specialty occupation.
  • J-1 Visa - exchange visitor.
  • O-1 Visa - temporary worker with extraordinary abilities in the sciences.
  • TN Visa – North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) professional.
  • G-4 Visa - family member of employee of international organizations.

The awardee must maintain one of the designations listed above throughout the duration of the award.


Award: $77,000 per year, including 10 percent indirect costs
Salary/Fringe: Up to 50 percent of annual project support may be used for salary and fringe of the principal investigator, any collaborating investigators, and other participants with faculty appointments. Amount paid to participants may not exceed percent effort invested by those participants.
Project Support: Salaries of technical personnel without faculty appointments essential to the conduct of the project, supplies, equipment, volunteer subject costs, and publication costs.
Travel: Up to $3,000 annually. International travel is permitted without prior AHA approval.
Duration: Two years
Total Award Amount: $154,000

  • The PI may not be the PI of an active NIH research grant at the time of award activation.
  • The applicant may submit only one AHA application per program type per deadline.
  • Awards may not supplement or duplicate currently funded work. Submitted applications must describe projects that are clearly distinct from ongoing research activities in the applicant's laboratory. The awardee may not hold a comparable award as a source of supplementation.
  • The applicant may resubmit the same or similar application three times (the original plus two resubmissions). The same or similar application submitted the fourth time will be administratively withdrawn.
  • The awardee may not hold more than one AHA award at the same time.


a) An investigator may hold two AHA grants 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.

b) An investigator may hold the Innovative Research Grant and one other AHA award.

c) A Fellow-to-Faculty Transition Award recipient may hold a Grant-in-Aid, Innovative Research Grant, or Collaborative Sciences Award during the faculty phase. Only project support is allowed from the second AHA award during the faculty stage of the Fellow-to-Faculty Transition Award.

d) Strategically Focused Research Network personnel may hold individual AHA awards.

Peer Review Criteria
An applicant is prohibited from contacting AHA peer reviewers. This is a form of scientific misconduct and will result in removal of the application from funding consideration and institutional notification of misconduct.

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.

  1. Impact: How does this project relate to and support the mission of the American Heart Association: Building healthier lives, free of cardiovascular diseases and stroke?  
  2. Significance: Does this study address an important problem or barrier to progress that is broadly related to cardiovascular disease or stroke? If the aims of the application are achieved, how will scientific knowledge or clinical practice be advanced? What will be the effect of these studies on the concepts, methods and technologies that drive this field? If funded, will the award have a substantial effect on the school/academic component in terms of strengthening the research environment and exposing students to research?
  3. Approach:  Are the overall strategy, methodology, and analyses well-reasoned and appropriate to accomplish the specific aims of the project?  Does the applicant acknowledge potential problem areas and consider alternative tactics?  Does the application provide evidence that the project can stimulate the interests of students so that they consider a career in the biomedical or behavioral sciences?  

    For all applications that include vertebrate animals or human subjects, applicants must explain how relevant biological variables, such as sex, are factored into the research design, analysis and reporting. Furthermore, strong justification from the scientific literature, preliminary data, or other relevant considerations, must be provided for applications proposing to study only one sex.
  4. Innovation: Is the project original and innovative? For example: Does the project challenge existing paradigms and address an innovative hypothesis or critical barrier to progress in the field? Does the project develop or employ novel concepts, approaches, methodologies, tools or technologies for this area?
  5. Investigator:  Is the investigator appropriately trained and well suited to carry out this work? Does the investigative team bring complementary and integrated expertise to the project (if applicable)? Does the PI(s) have suitable experience in supervising students in research?
  6. Environment: 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? Does the application demonstrate the likely availability of well-qualified students to participate in the research project? Does the application provide sufficient evidence that students have in the past or are likely to pursue careers in the biomedical or behavioral sciences? 

Interim Reporting
An awardee must submit annual progress reports that includes research findings, abstracts, and publications, and names of trainees supported.