AHA Data Grant: Debiasing Clinical Care Algorithms


Key Dates

 RFP Posted: October 6, 2023 
 Proposal Deadline: January 11, 2024
 American Heart Association Peer Review: February 2024
 Notification of Awards: February/March 2024
 Award Start Date: April 1, 2024

Overview

The American Heart Association is committed to research that evaluates the role of race in clinical algorithms.

Purpose

The purpose of this Request for Proposal is to reevaluate risk prediction models and algorithms in the field of cardiovascular and stroke science that have been adjusted for race.  One such example is the Pooled Cohort Equation for atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease.1 The Pooled Cohort Equation predicts 10-year risk for a first atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease event.

In the process of reevaluating the use of race in risk prediction models and algorithms, a researcher might assess the complex interactions among ancestry, race, racism, socioeconomic status and the environment. A researcher may focus on whether removal of race in a clinical algorithm relieves or exacerbates inequities.

Examples of topics that would be responsive to this RFP include:

  1. Assessing whether removal of race in a clinical algorithm relieves or exacerbates inequities.
  2. Assessing potential bias in clinical published algorithms that include race, correcting for the bias, and identifying factors for the bias.
  3. Developing statistical methods and advanced models that mitigate the bias in clinical published algorithms to support equitable care and treatment

Who We're Looking For

  • This Request For Proposals (RFP) is targeted to trainees, including pre-doctoral, postdoctoral, and other fellows (within 6 years post doctorate).
    • Each trainee is required to have a letter of support from a mentor.

Award Duration and Amount

  • 1-year awards from date of funding. Up to $50,000/year (including 10% indirect costs).
  • The American Heart Association reserves the right to determine the final number of awardees.
  • An additional Amazon Web Services (AWS) service credit (up to $50,000) for use of the American Heart Association Precision Medicine Platform may be provided for computational time, use of AWS tools and infrastructure, and storage. Credit amount will be determined based on estimated need over duration of the grant.

1Goff DC Jr, Lloyd-Jones DM, Bennett G, et al.; American College of Cardiology/American Heart Association Task Force on Practice Guidelines . 2013 ACC/AHA guideline on the assessment of cardiovascular risk: a report of the American College of Cardiology/American Heart Association Task Force on Practice Guidelines. Circulation. 2014;129(25)(suppl 2):S49-S73.

Proposal Instructions

Proposals must be submitted electronically via ProposalCentral. The system will open eight weeks prior to the application deadline to complete your proposal and upload documents. You can begin to create your documents now.

Checklist

Only Portable Document Format (pdf) files are accepted.

A.  A research plan of up to 6 pages that includes (12-point font, single space, 1-inch margins on all sides):

  1. Specific Aims - Provide a clear, concise summary of the aims of the work proposed and its relationship to your long-term goals. State the hypothesis to be tested.
  2. Background and Significance
  3. Preliminary Studies – may include a link to Jupyter Notebook (see below)
  4. Research Design and Methods  - may include a link to Jupyter Notebook (see below)
  5. Expected outcomes and deliverables, a timeline, and project success milestones.
    Discuss the potential difficulties and limitations of the proposed procedures and alternative approaches to achieve the aims.

    Jupyter Notebook Links are highly encouraged. A notebook is created in a workspace on the Precision Medicine Platform. The submitted notebook should be in HTML format.  Please review the detailed instructions.
  • Please review the Precision Medicine Platform section that follows for more information and expectations for use.  If your dataset  is unable to be used  in the Precision Medicine Platform (i.e., raw electronic health record data that is not de-identified), it would be beneficial to state the reason in your application so that it is clear to the reviewer.

B.  Works Cited (pages for Works Cited are not included in 6-page limitation)

C.  Biosketches of trainee and mentor (not included in 6-page limitation)

D.  Letter of support from the mentor: explaining how the mentor will support the applicant. The mentor should clarify the role the applicant played in developing the proposal, the relationship of the proposal to ongoing work in the mentor's laboratory.

E.  Budget
Information should include

  • Salary and fringe benefits of the project lead, mentor, collaborating investigators, and other participating research staff or faculty.
  • Project-related expenses, such as salaries of technical personnel essential to the conduct of the project, travel, and publication costs in accordance with institutional and American Heart Association policies. Please note that the American Heart Association does not fund the costs of program implementation or operations beyond what is established in an approved budget.
  • Maximum of 10% institutional indirect costs may be claimed on the award.
  • The awardee will be responsible for overseeing the total budget for the grant. If awarded, the project lead and the institution assume an obligation to expend grant funds for the research purposes set forth in the application and in accordance with all regulations and policies governing the grant programs of the American Heart Association.

For all other required items not listed, please refer to sections displayed in your Proposal Central application. (e.g.: funding overlap, Assurances, Research Classifications, etc.)

Additional Requirements

AHA Professional Membership

Applicants must be AHA Professional Members at the time of application. This must be done online. Join or begin the membership process well before the deadline.

Final Progress Report

Awardees must submit a final progress report. Progress reports may take the form of a required written report in addition to video conferencing, phone calls, and/or face-to-face visits. Reporting will be focused on achievement of stated milestones as indicated in the project timeline. The American Heart Association reserves the right to request additional updates, site visits, or reporting.

Public Access

The American Heart Association’s public access policy requires that all journal articles resulting from American Heart Association funding be made freely available in PubMed Central and attributed to a specific American Heart Association award within 12 months of publication. It is the responsibility of the awardee to ensure journal articles are deposited into PubMed Central.

Additional Requirements

  • The projects submitted can have no scientific or budgetary overlap with other work funded by the AHA or any other source.
  • Any inventions, intellectual property, and patents resulting from this funding are governed by the AHA’s Patent, Intellectual Property and Technology Transfer Policy.
  • The applicant/awardee and institution are responsible for compliance with all AHA research award policies and guidelines for the duration of any awards they may receive.
  • Visit the Research Programs Awards Policies page for more information on this topic.

Peer Review Criteria

1. Proposed Work, Environment & Training Plan
  • Is the work appropriate for the applicant, given his/her academic background, experience, and career interests? What is the mentor's assessment of the applicant? Is the mentor an independent investigator? Does the mentor have adequate current funding to support the applicant’s project?
  • Does the proposal contain the right balance of challenge, the importance of the research question, and feasibility in relation to the applicant's experience and training?
  • Does the scientific environment in which the work will be done contribute to the probability of a successful learning experience? Is there evidence of institutional commitment?

2. Proposed Project

  • 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?
  • How is the relevant race variable being explored, tested?  Are the  datasets used in the study appropriate, representative, and adequate to address the research question?
  • Is the project scope likely to be completed within the award period? Does the applicant acknowledge potential problem areas and consider alternative tactics?

3. Significance

  • Does this study assess the use of race in clinical algorithms in the field of cardiovascular and stroke science?
  • 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?

Precision Medicine Platform, Research Environment, Trial Workspace

It is highly encouraged that any data analysis for your project be conducted via the American Heart Association’s Precision Medicine Platform, powered by Amazon Web Services. Our intent is to help applicants gain confidence leveraging cloud computing for applications and projects.

  • Although we are highly encouraging the use the Precision Medicine Platform, we are not making it a requirement. We understand that a researcher may have certain restrictions that make it difficult to use the Precision Medicine Platform based on data and/or institution.
  • There may be some cases where the data you will be analyzing is only approved for use in an already approved analytic environment/server and you would need to seek additional approval to upload it into a secure workspace on the Precision Medicine Platform.  The timing of getting this approval may or may not work with the start of the award (if awarded), etc.  

The Precision Medicine Platform provides you with a secure cloud computing workspace for you to use for the application and during the term of the award that allows researchers to code in various languages, including R and Python, and to use statistical software including but not limited to SAS and R studio. The most up-to-date machine learning and artificial intelligence software available from Amazon Web Services is also included. Researchers are also able to install their own tools.

The American Heart Association asks that the grantees also accelerate collaboration through the sharing of data and code as well as the coordination for interoperability of data to facilitate findability and sustainability. The American Heart Association fully supports the FAIR (Findable, Accessible, Interoperable and Reusable) guiding principles of data stewardship.  The Precision Medicine Platform helps to support this principle by also serving as a data marketplace and enables you to share your data and make it available to other researchers. If you were to make your data available on the Precision Medicine Platform by request at the conclusion of your award, you will be set up in our system to receive electronic notifications of these requests that you will review and approve.

The Platform is HIPAA and FedRAMP compliant. Learn more about the Platform’s Security Information.
To learn more about the Precision Medicine Platform:

  1. Register here for a 60-day complimentary trial workspace to use during the application period.
  2. Once registered, login and go to Data - Explore & Request and click Request Workspace (do not select any datasets).
  3. Within the form, please include the following text for your Researcher Purpose: Trial Workspace for AHA Grant Application.

Updates for New Research Proposals

International Applicants

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. Acceptable visa types and additional information. may be found on the Application Resources page.

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

Applicants:

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.

Open Data Policy Change

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. Visit AHA Open Science Policies for more information.

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.

scientists discussing data received from microscope in a laboratory

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