CVRI/SNMA Levi Watkins, Jr. Travel Grant for Underrepresented Racial and Ethnic Groups

Sponsored by the Council on Cardiovascular Radiology and Intervention and the Student National Medical Association

Scientific Sessions 2024 Travel Grants applications will open on May 1, 2024.

To qualify for Scientific Sessions 2024 travel grants, you must meet the following deadlines:

  • August 16, 2024 – Deadline to have an active AHA membership with the sponsoring council.
  • August 23, 2024, 6 p.m. CDT – Deadline to submit your travel grant application for Scientific Sessions 2024.

The Council on Cardiovascular Radiology & Intervention (CVRI) and Student National Medical Association (SNMA) is offering $1,000 travel grants to honor promising underrepresented racial and ethnic medical students, other trainees, or investigators while introducing them to the AHA and Scientific Sessions.

Dr. Levi Watkins, Jr. was a cardiac surgeon who, in 1980, performed the first implantation of an automatic defibrillator into a human heart. He was also a professor of cardiac surgery and associate dean for postdoctoral affairs at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine in Baltimore, Maryland. In his deanship capacity, Dr. Watkins was legendary as a beacon of mentorship, especially for underrepresented individuals. Dr. Watkins, now deceased, was a longtime member of the AHA.

Dr. Watkins performed the first implantation of an automatic defibrillator in February 1980. Joining a team working on the device that included Michel Mirowksi, Morton Mower, and William Staewen, and assisted by Dr. Vincent Gott, the chief of cardiac surgery, Watkins performed the operation on a 57-year-old woman from California at Johns Hopkins Hospital. The defibrillator is a small, battery-powered device that detects arrhythmia in the heart and emits an electric shock to correct it. Since that operation, it has saved more than one million lives.

Eligibility Criteria

  • The individual must be from racial and ethnic groups that have been shown by the National Science Foundation to be underrepresented in health-related sciences on a national basis: This includes Blacks or African Americans, Hispanics or Latinos, American Indians or Alaska Natives, Native Hawaiians, and other Pacific Islanders. Other candidates considered a minority are those from medically underserved populations with low socio-economic status and those living in rural areas to include whites.
  • The candidate must be a U.S. citizen, a noncitizen national (born in American Samoa or Swains Island), or a U.S. permanent resident.
  • Applicant must be active in research and still be in training as an undergraduate or pre-doctoral student, or be active in research and within 10 years of completing medical fellowship (or residency as NIH states, MDs would be Fellows for 3-6 years of the 7-10), terminal degree or highest certificate (e.g. MSc, PhD), as of the award application date.
  • The applicant must be a member of the CVRI Council at student trainee/early career level and a member of the SNMA at the time of the application. If you need to become an AHA Professional Member, you should do so no later than one week prior to the award submission deadline due to the time needed to process the membership number. Learn more about AHA membership.
  • Each applicant for AHA council-sponsored awards, regardless of award category, is eligible to receive only one council-sponsored award per AHA conference per year. (For example, an Early Career Investigator Award finalist will not be eligible to receive a travel grant for the same meeting.)
  • Winners are not eligible to re-enter the competition in subsequent years.

How to Apply/Required Documents

Electronic submission through the Council Awards Application System is required by the application deadline date. Hard copies of any part of the application cannot be accepted.

**Candidates may apply for more than one travel award; however, an applicant is eligible to receive only one travel stipend.

Your application file should contain the following documents in PDF format:

  • A letter of recommendation by a mentor, section chief or department chair, which includes the following:
    • Candidate's grounds for eligibility, including verification that he or she is part of a underrepresented racial and ethnic group as defined by the NIH and identification of the candidate's specific underrepresented racial and ethnic group.
    • Candidate’s key accomplishments to date (or other forms of demonstrated excellence and recognition in the case of very junior trainees)
    • Assessment of relevant scientific attributes (intellectual curiosity, drive, critical thinking, problem-solving)
    • Potential for future success as a competitive investigator
  • Applicant’s personal statement (no longer than one page, double-spaced), outlining your research interests and long-term career goals and how receipt of the travel grant will enhance future long-term goals.
  • Curriculum vitae and bibliography

Visit the Council Awards Application System to complete an application.

A username and password previously set up through online profile registration at Professional Heart Daily will be necessary to access the Application System. If you have not created an online profile yet, please visit Professional Heart Daily to create an online member profile before accessing the Council Awards Application System. AHA Professional Members who are creating an online profile for the first time should make sure to register using their AHA membership identification numbers.


Each winner will receive:

  • Up to 5 winners will receive a $1,000 grant to help offset costs of attending Scientific Sessions.
  • One complimentary ticket to the CVRI Reception. Attendance at Scientific Sessions and the CVRI Reception are mandatory and will be verified before the grant is awarded.

*Awardees will be required to pay their registration for the meeting at the discounted early registration rate.


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AHA Professional Members are Difference Makers

Scientific Sessions: November 16–18, 2024
McCormick Place Convention Center | Chicago, Illinois

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