Council on Lifestyle and Cardiometabolic Health Early Career Development

The Council's Early Career Development program encourages and assists promising students, post-doctoral fellows and junior faculty as they seek to establish successful careers in science. At the core of these efforts is the Early Career Committee, which serves as an advocate for young investigators. Through direct interaction with the Council leadership, the committee works to ensure networking opportunities, career development symposia and service opportunities that fit the needs of the early career AHA members.

Introduction to the AHA Mentoring Program

Interested in becoming a member of the Lifestyle Early Career Committee?

Submit an Early Career Committee interest form

Early Career Committee


Casey M. Rebholz

Assistant Professor
Johns Hopkins University

Immediate Past Chair

Damon Swift, PhD

Assistant Professor
Dept of Kinesiology
East Carolina University


Lora Burke, PhDLora Burke, PhD

University of Pittsburgh


Christopher Imes, RN

Assistant Professor
University of Pittsburgh


Noel Mueller, PhD

Assistant Professor
Bloomberg School of Public Health
Johns Hopkins University

Marcia Otto, PhD

Assistant Professor
University of Texas Health Science Center

Leanna Ross, PhD

Postdoctoral Associate
Duke Center for Living
Duke University Medical Center

Nicole Spartano, PhD

Research Assistant Professor
Boston University

Kate Bowen, BS

PhD Candidate
Department of Nutritional Sciences
The Pennsylvania State University

Mayra Estrella, MPh

Postdoctoral Fellow
University of Illinois at Chicago

Deborah Young, PhD

Director Behavioral Science
Kaiser Permanente


Early Career Events

microscope with scientist in the background

Epidemiology and Prevention | Lifestyle and Cardiometabolic Health Scientific Sessions

March 1–4, 2022
Chicago Hilton, Chicago, Illinois

Lifestyle Early Career Lunchtime Session

Wednesday, March 21, noon–1:30 p.m.
Topic: Three Minute Thesis Competition (3MT™) (PDF)

Listen to five selected graduate students present a compelling oration on their thesis or dissertation topic in three minutes or less. A panel of Lifestyle Council volunteer leaders will determine the best presentation after questioning each competitor and award the most compelling oration the grand prize, courtesy of the Lifestyle Early Career Committee.

Lifestyle ABM Networking Luncheon and Early Career Session

Wednesday, March 21, noon–1:30 p.m.
Topic: Keeping the Balance: Avoiding Burnout and Managing Time Demands in Academia

The Lifestyle and Cardiometabolic Health Annual Business Meeting and Networking Luncheon is great opportunity to get caught up on activities related to the Lifestyle Council’s significant mission, and to meet some key leaders in the council. Following the luncheon, the Lifestyle Early Career Committee is pleased to host a special session entitled "Keeping the Balance: Avoiding Burnout and Managing Time Demands in Academia.

Open to all attendees, this session will focus on best strategies to manage challenging time demands while avoiding burnout in the academic environment - a topic of critical importance for a successful career in CVD research. Panelists will include successful junior, mid, and senior-level faculty who will share their experiences with and successful strategies for maintaining work-life balance while successfully furthering their careers.

Moderator: Christopher Imes, PhD, RN, Assistant Professor, School of Nursing, University of Pittsburgh.


  • Ryan Demmer, PhD, MPH, FAHA, Associate Professor, Division of Epidemiology and Community Health School of Public, University of Minnesota
  • Mercedes Carnethon, Ph.D., FAHA, Associate Professor and Vice Chair, Department of Preventive Medicine, Feinberg School of Medicine, Northwestern University
  • Bethany Baron Gibbs, PhD FAHA, Assistant professor, University of Pittsburgh
  • Anderson, Cheryl, PhD, MPH, MS, FAHA , Associate Professor and Interim Chair, Preventive Medicine, UC San Diego School of Medicine


Young Investigator Awards

The Young Investigator Awards recognize outstanding endeavors by new investigators in research activities and encourages continued biomedical research careers, related to cardiovascular function and diseases, including basic science, integrated physiology and clinical problems.

Student Scholarships

The objective of Student Scholar awards is to stimulate student scholars in medicine, nursing, public health, nutrition and other allied health disciplines to carry out research projects related to cardiovascular disease, stroke and basic science.

Career Skills


Educational Opportunities

Meetings and Conferences


Funding Opportunities

Searching for Funding Opportunities

Types of Grants

  • Pilot Funds include NIH R03 or small grants ($50k year)
  • NIH K awards – 2-5 years in length, large portion is PI salary with small research budget
  • NIH R01’s Investigator initiated awards – can be in response to PA’s— (up to $500K year, up to 5 years)
  • Responses to RFA’s
  • Other independent funding

Please visit the AHA's Research Funding Opportunities for more information about the following Grants and Awards.

  • Medical Student Research Program
    The student research program encourages promising students, including women and members of minority groups underrepresented in the sciences, from all disciplines to consider research careers while supporting the highest quality scientific investigation broadly related to cardiovascular disease and stroke. The research opportunity will allow students to work for 8, 10 or 12 weeks with a faculty/staff member on any project broadly related to cardiovascular disease/function or stroke. The goal is to encourage students to consider a future academic career in this area.
  • Predoctoral Fellowship
    Helps students initiate careers in cardiovascular and stroke research by providing research assistance and training.
  • Clinical Research Program
    Encourages early career investigators who have appropriate and supportive mentoring relationships to engage in high quality introductory and pilot clinical studies that will guide future strategies for reducing cardiovascular disease and stroke while fostering new research in clinical and translational science, and encouraging community- and population-based activities.
  • Undergraduate Student Research Program
    The purpose of this undergraduate research training program is to encourage promising students from all disciplines, including women and members of minority groups underrepresented in the sciences, to consider research careers while supporting the highest quality scientific investigation broadly related to cardiovascular disease and stroke.
  • Fellow-to-Faculty Transition Award
    Provides funding for trainees with outstanding potential for careers as physician-scientists in cardiovascular or stroke research during the crucial period of career development that spans the completion of research training through the early years of the first faculty/staff position. The award provides a supportive mentored experience during this period of transition. The award will
    1. greatly enhance the awardee's chances of obtaining a high-quality faculty/staff appointment;
    2. improve the awardee's success and retention in an investigative career in cardiovascular science; and
    3. develop the mentoring skills of the awardee as a potential future mentor.
  • Postdoctoral Fellowship
    Helps trainees initiate careers in cardiovascular and stroke research while obtaining significant research results under the supervision of a sponsor or mentor; supports individuals before they are ready for some stage of independent research.
  • Beginning Grant-In-Aid
    Promotes the independent status of promising beginning scientists.
  • Scientist Development Grant
    Supports highly promising beginning scientists in their progress toward independence by encouraging and adequately funding research projects that can bridge the gap between completion of research training and readiness for successful competition as an independent investigator.
  • Grant-In-Aid
    Encourages and adequately funds the most innovative and meritorious research projects from independent investigators.

Basic Science Track

Predoctoral Training Grants

Postdoctoral Training Grants

Early Career/Transition Grants

Clinical Science Track

Predoctoral Training Grants

Postdoctoral Training Grants

Early Career/Transition Grants