2024 Merit Award Letter of Intent Instructions

Applicants are required to submit a Letter of Intent (LOI) for the AHA Merit Award on or before Thursday, July 13, 2023, at 3 p.m. CT.
Letters of Intent must be submitted via ProposalCentral.

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.

Please note: Only applicants who submit a LOI and are INVITED to apply may submit a full application. AHA will contact applicants regarding their status after LOI review.

Before beginning the LOI, it is very important to review the program description, noting especially the sections describing the purpose, target/eligibility, peer review criteria, and important conditions. LOI review will focus on adherence to the program description and these instructions.

  1. Log on to ProposalCentral and navigate as follows:
    Create New Proposal > Filter by Grant Maker
    Select “American Heart Association”
    Locate “Merit Award” and click “Apply Now”

  2. Title
    Enter Title and resubmission information

  3. Accept Program Requirements
    In this section, you will acknowledge you have read and understand all program requirements for the Merit Award.

  4. Applicant/PI and PI Demographics
    In this section of the application, you will provide information about yourself, your academic career, effort and professional time, demographics, citizenship, location of work for the research project and college degrees. Save each section as you complete it.

  5. Institution and Personnel
    Provide information about your institution, including the Grants Officer, Fiscal Officer, and Technology Officer.
    These Officers must be selected from the list of registered users. Contact your institution’s grants office if you are unsure of which person to select from the list. It is important to select the correct grants officer, as they are responsible for the final submission of your LOI to the AHA.

  6. Project Summary & Non-Scientist Summaries, Classifications

    • Complete the Project Summary
      Write a concise description or abstract describing the work proposed. This should be as brief as possible, since you also will be required to upload a separate LOI document. Note: This field will not accept any special characters or keystrokes (e.g., β, π, etc.).

    • Prepare your Non-Scientist Summary
      Enter a description of your project that is written to be understood by non-scientists. This information may be reviewed by people who do not have scientific or medical backgrounds. Please be clear and avoid technical and scientific terms, when possible. When formulating your lay summary, it might help to imagine that you are explaining your work to a new acquaintance who does not work in the science field.

      NOTE: It is incumbent upon the applicant to make a clear link between the project and the mission of the AHA. The lay summary will be assessed in terms of potential impact on the AHA mission; this will be factored into the overall priority score as noted in the peer review criteria.

  7. Science Classifications and Research Classification
    These classifications are independent of each other and will not affect the peer review of your application.

    • Research Classification Type: Select the Research Type that best fits the research being conducted in your lab (basic, clinical, or population).
    • Science Classification: Choose BOTH a Primary Classification and a Secondary Classification. Current science classifications are listed on the AHA website.

  8. Alternative and Overlapping Funding
    Enter details for active and pending research support that is available to you.

  9. Upload Attachments:

    • Your Letter of Intent as a PDF document. See LOI Guidelines below. (3-page limit)

    • A PDF document addressing AHA Ambassadorship. See AHA Ambassadorship Guidelines below. (1-page limit)

    • List of your 15 best, most impactful and/or foundational publications that are relevant to the proposed research focus or this program as a pdf document. When selecting, consider those which are foundational papers that support your research program; those that are most cited; and for more recent publications, those in the most high-impact journals or that you predict will elicit the most citations. (2-page limit)

    • Your biosketch (5-page limit)


  10. Validate, Signature Page(s), and Submit

No reference letters are to be supplied with the initial LOI. Two references will be required from those selected to submit a full application.

LOI Guidelines

A Letter of Intent (LOI), limited to three pages, is required. The LOI should briefly describe why the AHA should invest in your proposed vision for the future in terms of:

  • Likelihood of transforming and advancing the future of cardiovascular disease and cerebrovascular disease science.
  • Potential to move your research into emerging and/or difficult areas of inquiry, being consistently at its forefront.
  • Ability to develop new tools and methods that support creative experimental approaches to questions, encompassing concepts or techniques from other disciplines.
  • Capacity to forge links between disparate disciplines.
  • Strong track record of 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.
  • Evidence of great promise for future original and innovative contributions.
  • Demonstrated commitment to the mission of the American Heart Association and to advancing the ideals and guiding principles through volunteer service.

AHA Ambassadorship Guidelines

Positive advocacy, volunteer service, and commitment to AHA‘s science and mission-related activities. 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.

Format/Type Requirements

You must comply exactly with the AHA's format/type requirements and page limits. Failure to comply will result in the administrative withdrawal (disqualification) of the application.

  • 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.

Note: The ProposalCentral electronic system will reject a document that exceeds the page limit.

Internet website 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.

Contact Us

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