American Heart Association and Enduring Hearts Translational Research Awards in Pediatric Heart Transplantation

Published: July 18, 2023

American Heart Association logo          Logo of red heart with graphic of a person with arms raised inside and hands cupping the heart and person from below. Includes the words," Enduring Hearts, 10 years, healthy kids, stronger hearts, better lives."

Call for Proposals

Find the answers to your proposal submission questions,
plus links to the best resources for building a strong research application.


Timeline and Key Dates

Description Deadline
Request for Applications Published Tuesday, July 18, 2023
ProposalCentral System Opens for Applicants Tuesday, August 1, 2023
Pre-proposal (Letter of Intent) Deadline Thursday, September 28, 2023
Pre-proposal Review October 2023
Notify Applicants Invited to Submit Full Proposals Tuesday, November 7, 2023
Invited Full Proposal Deadline

Tuesday, January 16, 2024
* before 3 p.m. Central Time

AHA=EH Peer Review Feb-March 2024
Notifications to Applicants Mid-March 2024
Award Start Date April 1, 2024
Public Announcement of Awardees:
During National Pediatric Transplant Week
Sunday, April 21 – Saturday, April 27

Program Description and Eligibility

The American Heart Association (AHA) and Enduring Hearts (EH) share common priorities and interests in investing in biomedical research. Together, AHA and EH have established this jointly funded Request for Proposals (RFP) for the AHA/EH Translational Research Awards in Pediatric Heart Transplantation (PHT).

EH was founded in 2013 with a mission to fund research to increase longevity and improve the quality of life for children with transplanted hearts. In collaboration with its partners, founder and donors, EH has invested over $10 million for ˜ 60 investigator-initiated novel projects making it the largest nonprofit funded solely dedicated to pediatric heart transplant research.

The AHA was founded in 1924 and its mission is to be a relentless force for a world of longer, healthier lives. The AHA has invested more than $5 billion in research, making it the largest nonprofit funder of cardiovascular and cerebrovascular research outside the federal government.

This award is intended to fund investigators who are committed to conducting research directly related to improving the life expectancy and quality of life of pediatric heart transplant recipients. These Translational Science Awards (TSAs) will further the potential for clinical translation of highly impactful basic, clinical, population, and/or technological sciences to the listed research priorities (below) relevant to Pediatric Heart Transplantation (PHT).

To advance the translation of innovative research projects toward clinical applications for PHT recipients.

  • Proposals must be based on available evidence and how the proposed project will advance that evidence toward the listed research priorities (below). The combination and integration of the evidentiary foundations of the proposed translational research project could include evidence from the following: basic sciences, clinical, population-based and/or behavioral sciences.
  • Projects must include a Primary Principal Investigator (PI) from a field directly related to PHT, with published evidence from prior research projects.
  • This award fosters collaborations between established and early- or mid-career investigators. Applications by existing collaborators are permitted, provided that the proposed project has not been previously funded.
  • Proposals must address how the proposed project meets diversity, equity and inclusion goals for investigators and clinical participants.

Research Priorities
To improve the longevity and the quality of PHT recipients’ lives by:

  1. Integrating longitudinal non-invasive surveillance protocols, methods, technologies and/or biomarkers with clinical care strategies for accurate pre-onset indicators and early detection of Cardiac Allograft Vasculopathy (CAV), acute cellular rejection (ACR) and/or antibody-mediated rejection (AMR) in PHT.
  2. Developing and validating clinical application(s) of novel immunotherapies, novel targets for immunosuppression, and/or improving methods for determining the optimal levels of immunosuppression to prevent CAV, AMR, and/or ACR while reducing/eliminating secondary conditions due to immunosuppression (e.g., kidney injury, opportunistic infections, etc.) after PHT.
  3. Developing experimental models, preferably human cell-based, to identify the underlying mechanism(s) of, and/or novel therapies for, and/or the prevention of, CAV in PHT recipients.
  4. Developing and validating technologies for improving medication compliance and/or home self-detection of early CAV, antibody-mediated and/or rejection in adolescent heart transplant recipients.

Preference will be given to proposals that:

  • Include or will clearly lead to clinical trials and/or applications for PHT recipients;
  • Develop new or significantly enhance strategies, innovations, and/or technologies for PHT recipients;
  • Perform power analyses and propose to achieve enrollment goals, statistical power, and/or to meet FDA requirements using multiple pediatric centers;
  • Involve clinical trials that include primary pediatric patient data from the Pediatric Heart Transplant Society (PHTS).

The AHA maintains dedicated peer review committees by award type and subject, and EH maintains diverse reviewers with a broad range of clinical and scientific expertise. Awards are open to all academic and health professionals. EH and AHA encourage inclusive and diverse applicants and proposals that include women and candidates from racial and ethnic groups underrepresented in science and medicine. A statement to that must be included in the LOI and invited proposals.

Before beginning a proposal, review the information on academic disciplines, eligibility and requirements that apply to all AHA research awards at AHA Application Resources.

Target Audience

  • The primary PI must work in research directly related to PHT.
  • The primary PI must be an AHA Professional Member  (Note: This requirement does not apply to collaborating investigators, consultants, fellows or others who are not the primary PI.)
  • The primary PI must hold a faculty/staff appointment at their sponsoring institution.
  • The primary PI must be an independent researcher (i.e., must meet their institution’s eligibility to apply for independent awards). This award is not intended for individuals in research training or fellowship positions.
  • The primary PI’s institution must be designated as the U.S. institution of record, agreeing to sponsor the application and accept award payments, and ensure that annual progress reports and expenditure reports are submitted to AHA and will be shared with EH.
  • At least one collaborating investigator must be an early-career (assistant professor or equivalent) or mid-career (associate professor equivalent) investigator.
  • Each investigator must hold an MD, PhD, DO, or equivalent post-baccalaureate terminal degree.
  • Collaborating investigators may be from the PI’s sponsoring institution or from a different institution.
  • Collaborating investigators may be from different disciplines and/or areas of expertise.
Percent effort
While no minimum percentage effort is specified, the investigators must demonstrate and document that adequate time will be devoted to ensuring the successful completion of the proposed project.

Please visit Application Resources and refer to “Which visa types does the AHA accept?” under “General Guidelines.”

Eligible Sponsoring Institution
Please visit Application Resources and refer to “Is my institution eligible for AHA funding?” under “General Guidelines.”


Up to $340,909 per year, for four years, which includes up to 10% institutional indirect costs (IDC). Total award amount: $1,363,636 over the four-year period, inclusive of IDC.

Allowable costs
  • Salary and fringe benefits of the PI, collaborating investigators, consultants and other personnel with faculty appointments, commensurate with percent effort.
  • Project-related expenses such as salaries for technical personnel essential to conducting the project. Supplies, equipment, computers, travel (including international travel, if needed), human subjects’ recruitment and reimbursement costs, publication costs, including open access fees, etc.
  • Costs for Pediatric Heart Transplant Study, if applicable, to collect and report a study’s primary PHT patient data.

Award duration: Four years, with an option to request up to 12 months no-cost extension (for data analyses and publications) if there is a documented and approved need. Any no-cost extension request must be reviewed and approved in advance.

Required Pre-proposal (Letter of Intent)

  • Pre-proposals are due by 3 p.m. Central Time on Thursday, September 28, 2023. Note: The Proposal Central system will shut down at 3 p.m. Central Time. Early submission is encouraged. The applicant has the final responsibility for submitting the completed pre-proposal.
  • Pre-proposals must be submitted through Proposal Central
  • For specific application instructions, see the AHA Application Instructions (PDF)
  • A pre-proposal is required to ensure responsiveness to this program and to ensure applicants meet the above-specified requirements of the award.
  • After reviewing the pre-proposal, AHA will contact the applicants to let them know if they will be invited to submit a full proposal. Only invited applicants will be permitted to submit a full proposal.
The responsiveness to this RFP, alignment with the research priorities listed, and preliminary evidence and its clinical translation to PHT recipients will be given the most weight in determining which pre-proposals will be invited to submit a full proposal.

Required documents for the pre-proposal
  • A letter (three pages maximum) describing an innovative research proposal that addresses this RFP and the research priorities listed, plus the preliminary evidence and its clinical translation to PHT recipients.
    • Refer to page setup/formatting requirements on page 10 of the AHA Application Instructions (PDF) for specific information. Failure to comply may result in withdrawal of the pre-proposal.
  • A biosketch from the primary PI.

International Applicants - Did you know?

For ALL research programs – including fellowships – applicants are not required to reside in the United States for any period before applying for AHA funding. However, AHA research awards are limited to U.S.-based 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 others that can demonstrate the ability to conduct the proposed research. Find more on acceptable visa types and additional information.

Use of Large Language Models and Generative AI in Proposals & Peer Review

The AHA permits the use of a large language model (LLM – e.g., ChatGPT) or a generative artificial intelligence tool to create and/or edit content in research proposals submitted for funding. This information must be disclosed at the time of submission. Disclosure of this information does not impact peer review. Should this information not be disclosed accurately, and use of these tools is identified, the proposal may be administratively withdrawn.

Peer Reviewers:
The AHA DOES NOT permit the use of a large language model (LLM – e.g., ChatGPT) or an artificial intelligence tool to generate and/or edit content in peer review critiques. Uploading any portion of a research proposal into a large language model (LLM – e.g., ChatGPT) or an artificial intelligence tool to assist in writing a critique of the proposal is explicitly prohibited as it is a violation of the AHA’s Peer Reviewer Certification Statement (to include confidentiality, non-disclosure, and conflict of interest).

Biosketch Addition: Inclusive, safe, diverse environment

All applicants (excluding fellows) are to include a statement in the Personal Statement section of their biographical sketch that explicitly states how they contribute to a safe, inclusive, and diverse work environment. In addition, mentors on Fellowships, Career Development Awards, and Diversity Supplements should complete recognized training specific to sexual and gender-based harassment.

Change to AHA Open Data Policy

For awards beginning in FY 23-24, the AHA has modified its Open Data Policy to align with the NIH’s new timeline for data sharing, effective for proposals submitted to the AHA after July 1, 2023. Find more on AHA Open Science Policies.

Revised AHA Open Data Policy: The AHA requires certain applicants to include a data sharing plan with the proposal. Any factual data that is needed for independent verification of research results must be made freely and publicly available in an AHA-approved repository as soon as possible, and no later than the time of an associated publication or the end of the award period (and any no-cost extension), whichever comes first.

* Existing awards are subject to the policy in place when the award agreement was signed. If a new award agreement is required (e.g., change of PI, change of institution) award is subject to policies in place at the time the agreement is signed.

Supporting Rheumatic Heart Disease Research

The AHA is helping to support a broader approach to research funding focused on Rheumatic Heart Disease. To that effect, the AHA is committing to funding research in this specific area across all scientific disciplines (basic, clinical, and population) within any current AHA programs. No additional pre-proposal or proposal materials are necessary outside of individual AHA program criteria; awardees will be designated from the existing applicant pool within each program.

Peer Review Criteria
(for invited full proposals)

This initiative will have a dedicated peer review committee comprised of experts in the field. To judge the merit of the proposal, reviewers will comment on the following criteria.

The invited proposal must expand upon the pre-proposal, detailing how the research directly relates to improving the life expectancy and the quality of life of PHT recipients and include the preliminary evidence supporting this proposal, the scientific objectives and specific aims.

Please be sure to fully address these in your invited proposal:
  1. Preliminary Evidence: It is incumbent upon the applicants to convey the preliminary evidence of their proposal. How is the proposed project justified by preliminary evidence?
  2. Investigators:  Is the primary PI an established investigator in the field of PHT research and committed to this project? Are all investigators appropriately trained and well-suited to conduct this work? Is the work proposed appropriate to the experience levels of the collaborating investigators? How does the investigators’ previous work strengthen and ensure the project’s success? Does the effort of each investigator reflect proper equity in the project? Are the early-to-mid-career investigators and established investigators substantively involved for the duration of the study? Are collaborative relationships clearly outlined? Does the investigative team bring complementary and integrated expertise to the project?
  3. Significance:  Does this study address an important problem related to the stated research priorities of this translational research initiative in PHT? If the aims of the application are achieved, how will that scientific knowledge translate to clinical practice for PHT recipients? What will be the effect of these studies on the concepts, methods and technologies that drive the field? Is this project transformative to the field of PHT?
  4. Approach:  Are the conceptual framework, design, methods and analyses adequately developed, well-integrated, well-reasoned, feasible (as determined by preliminary data), and appropriate to the aims of the proposal? Is the project scope likely to be completed within the award period? Does the investigator acknowledge potential problem areas and consider alternative approaches? Are the number of patients enrolled sufficient to power the stated aims of the proposal?
  5. Innovation:  Is the proposal original and innovative? For example:  Does the proposal challenge existing paradigms and address an innovative hypothesis or critical barrier to progress in the field? Will the project foster or employ novel concepts, approaches, methodologies, tools or technologies for PHT recipients? Do the diversity of disciplines or expertise of the collaborating investigators make the innovation possible and clinically relevant?
  6. Environment:  Does the environment where the work will be done contribute to the probability of success? Does the proposal benefit from unique features of the investigative environment(s), or subject populations, or employ useful collaborative arrangements? Is there evidence of institutional support?
  7. Impact/General Audience Summary:  How does the proposal’s science accelerate the discovery, interpretation and application of scientific knowledge to improve the life expectancy and quality of life of PHT recipients? How effectively does the applicant describe, for reviewers and an audience without a scientific background (e.g, “General Audience) how completion of this proposed project will impact the stated objectives and relate to the missions of EH and AHA? Evaluation of the impact should be emphasized by the lay summary (aka “Summary for General Audiences”).

Note:  Contacting peer reviewers concerning your proposal is deemed a form of scientific misconduct and will result in the removal of your proposal from funding consideration and institutional notification of ethical concerns.

Other Guidelines and Restrictions:

  • An awardee may also apply for or hold another AHA or EH research award, if there is no overlap with this project (e.g., Established Investigator Award, Innovative Project Award, Transformational Project Award, AHA Institutional Research Enhancement Award, Career Development Award, EH direct award, EH-AHA Collaborative Sciences Award) and may be the program director or sponsor on an AHA Institutional Undergraduate Program award.
  • Awards are not intended to supplement or duplicate currently funded work. Rather, it is expected that submitted applications will describe projects that are clearly distinct from ongoing research activities and/or medical advancements in the marketplace. Minor variations from existing research projects are not sufficient to constitute independent and distinct projects.
  • Please visit these important resources available on the AHA research web pages:

Application Resources
Policies Governing all AHA Research Awards

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