2024 Merit Award Invited Applicant Instructions

Deadline for invited, full applications: Tuesday, September 5, 2023, 3 pm Central
Award start date: January 1, 2024
Applications must be submitted via ProposalCentral by the institution’s Grants Officer.

Applications must be received no later than 3:00 p.m. CDT on the deadline date. The system will shut down at 3 p.m. CDT. Early submission is encouraged. Your institutional Grants Officer (GO) has the final responsibility of submitting your completed application to the American Heart Association. It is important that you check with your GO for his/her internal deadline. All submissions require a signature from a designated institutional representative.

Log on to ProposalCentral and navigate as follows:
HOME: Proposals Due -- Your Merit Award application will be listed on the screen.
Click the Proposal ID number to complete all required sections

    Uploads Required for Invited Applicants

    Upload Attachments

    Applications will be reviewed by scientists and lay stakeholders. Content should be written so that it is understandable to non-scientists, as well as to scientists who may not have specific expertise within the proposed topic area. The research does not need to be described in the detail that would be expected in an NIH R01, since the track record and promise of the investigator are the primary award criteria.

    The application must include the following documents:

    1.  A summary of the applicant’s major research achievements. This should be written so that a non-scientist reviewer can readily understand the summary. (1-page limit)

    2.  A summary of the applicant’s ongoing and planned research program and a statement of why the AHA should support the applicant’s vision. (8-page limit; up to 1 page of figures is permitted and counts toward the 8-page limit.)

    This section should build upon the letter of intent by focusing on how the applicant’s past accomplishments and future vision would:

    • Transform and advance the future of approaches to cardiovascular and cerebrovascular disease.
    • Move into emerging and/or difficult areas of inquiry, being consistently at its forefront.
    • Support creative approaches to questions, encompassing concepts from other disciplines.
    • Forge links between disparate disciplines.
    • Allow for collaboration with other distinguished scientists across disciplines.
    • Consistent with AHA’s commitment to fostering growth of new and developing investigators, all applicants MUST incorporate the naming of at least one full-time fellow (predoctoral or postdoctoral) for the duration of the award term.  Additionally, applicants must name at least one early-career faculty member (up to and including assistant professor) whose career should be meaningfully enhanced by their substantive inclusion in the proposed studies.
    • Generate original and innovative contributions.
    • Assist the AHA in becoming a catalyst to achieving maximum impact in equitable health and well-being.

    3.  Literature Cited (4-page limit)

    4.  AHA Ambassadorship: Positive advocacy, volunteer service, and commitment to AHA‘s science and mission-related activities. (1-page limit)

    This advocacy maybe demonstrated by:

    • Active involvement in local or national level AHA committees and activities
    • Consistent championing of AHA’s mission to be a relentless force for a world of longer, healthier lives
    • Vision to assist the AHA in becoming a catalyst to achieve maximum impact in equitable health and wellbeing.

    5. Two references are required from those selected to submit full applications. (see below)

    6. Top 15 Bibliography - You may upload the same Top 15 Bibliography that you submitted for your Letter of Intent or you may upload a revised list.

    Supporting Documentation Section

    Reference Letters (4-page limit for each)
    Two references are required from those selected to submit a full application. This is a confidential communication, to be completed by the person providing a reference. Applicants will invite referees through ProposalCentral, and they will receive email instructions to complete the process and upload (PDF) a respective letter. Each letter is limited to four pages. Reference letters are due by 3 p.m. CST on the proposal deadline date..

    Third Party Personnel  (if identified in proposal)

  1. Collaborating Investigator Biosketch (5 page limit)
  2. Collaborating Investigator Letter (5 page limit)
  3. Consultant Letter (5 page limit)

  4. Format/Type Requirements

    Most required documents may be prepared prior to creating the application in ProposalCentral. Adherence is mandatory to the page limits and format requirements below. No applicant should have an advantage over other applicants by providing more content in his/her application by using smaller, denser type.

    Applications may be administratively withdrawn by AHA if the proposal does not comply with format requirements (type size/characters per inch, lines per page, and page limitations).

    • Document must be single-spaced.
    • No more than 15 characters per inch (cpi) or an average of no more than 15 cpi (cpi includes symbols, punctuation, and spaces).
    • No less than ¾” page margins on all four sides.
    • Maximum of 50 lines per page.
    • Arial Font style, 12-point font size for Windows users; Helvetica Font style, 12-point font size for Macintosh users.
    • Only Portable Document Format (pdf) files are accepted.

    It is not necessary to number your pages or to put your name on every page.

    Internet Web site addresses (URLs) may not be used to provide information necessary to the review because reviewers are under no obligation to view the Internet sites. Moreover, AHA reviewers are cautioned not to directly access an Internet site, as it could compromise their anonymity. The only place a URL may be used is in the biographical sketch as described in the instructions for that form.

    The American Heart Association permits the use of a large language model (LLM – e.g. ChatGPT) or an artificial intelligence tool to generate 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.

    The AHA has the responsibility to make final determination of conformance to format requirements and the authority to withdraw applications. This decision is final and not subject to appeal.

    Required documents for each program can be found on the Required Application Documents page. Content cannot be modified or changed once an application is submitted to AHA. Only the required documents for submission will be accepted. Additional or supplemental documents will not be accepted.

    Peer Review Criteria

    Since this award mechanism is intended to fund individuals rather than specific projects, peer review criteria focus primarily on the investigator, their record of accomplishments, and potential to transform and advance the future of cardiovascular and/or cerebrovascular disciplines that support the mission and strategic values of the AHA.

    Impact on AHA Mission
    How effectively does the applicant describe for an audience without a science background how this proposal will impact the AHA’s mission to be a relentless force for a world of longer, healthier lives? Do past involvement and future plans support the applicant’s description? Is the proposed research of high impact to the mission of AHA? How will the applicant assist the American Heart Association in becoming a catalyst to achieving maximum impact in equitable health and wellbeing?

    Consider the AHA’s Strategic Value Proposition that includes addressing overall health and wellbeing, anchored in cardiovascular and cerebrovascular health. This might encompass; focusing on breakthrough science and technology; changes in systems and policy; and engaging with individuals to transform communities. Evaluation of this criterion will be influenced by the lay summary section of the application.

    Scientific Rigor and Collaboration
    Does the applicant’s vision challenge existing paradigms or critical barriers to progress in the field? Does the candidate propose approaches to major challenges in the fields of cardiovascular and/or cerebrovascular diseases that have the potential to produce an unusually high impact? Does the applicant describe the ability to develop tools and methods that support creative approaches to questions, encompassing concepts from other disciplines? Does the investigator have the capacity to forge links between disparate disciplines?  Does the candidate have a strong track record of collaboration with other distinguished scientists across disciplines?

    Does the candidate have a history of volunteer service and commitment to the American Heart Association, across the breadth of volunteer opportunities? Is the candidate established as an accomplished investigator in the fields of cardiovascular and/or cerebrovascular science? How does his/her record of accomplishment (including funding and publications) demonstrate the future ability to transform the field? Does the candidate have a strong track record of collaboration with other distinguished scientists across disciplines?

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

    scientists discussing data received from microscope in a laboratory


    ProposalCentral is a web-based system for application preparation, submission, peer review, and awards management.

    Contact Us

    Program questions / inquiries,
    call 214-360-6107 (option 1)