AHA Rapid Response Grant COVID-19 and its Cardiovascular Impact


In March 2020, the American Heart Association put out an unprecedented rapid response call for cardiovascular/ cerebrovascular research proposals to address the growing crisis of the COVID-19 pandemic. Because of the urgency of this issue, the focus was on innovative, highly impactful short-term proposals (9-12 months) that can show progress within the period of this award. The AHA funded 16 of awards of $100,000 each and a nationwide Coordinating Center.

AHA Rapid Response Grant COVID-19 and its Cardiovascular Impact RFA (PDF)

AHA COVID-19 Rapid Response Grant Research Teams

Cleveland Clinic was selected to serve as the initiative’s COVID-19 Coordinating Center. A team from this center, led by Mina K. Chung, M.D., Professor of Medicine, will collect results from the research projects and coordinate the dissemination of all study findings.

Columbia University Irving Medical Center, led by Sanjum S. Sethi, M.D., M.P.H. - A Comprehensive Assessment of Arterial and Venous Thrombotic Complications in Patients with COVID-19
Working with New York-Presbyterian and the Cardiovascular Research Foundation, this team will evaluate the clotting complications of COVID-19 in hospitalized patients, develop a risk score to aid in bedside decision-making and conduct a clinical trial to determine optimal medical treatment to prevent clotting complications in future COVID-19 patients.

Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Harvard Medical School, led by Joseph Loscalzo, M.D., Ph.D. -- Repurposing Drugs for Treatment of Cardiomyopathy Caused by Coronavirus-2 (SARS-CoV-2)
Working with the Center for Complex Network Research of Northeastern University, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and the National Emerging Infectious Diseases Laboratory at Boston University, this team will look at repurposing already approved drugs for faster applications in treating COVID-19 patients.

Kaiser Permanente Southern California, led by Jaejin An, Ph.D. -- Risk of Severe Morbidity and Mortality of Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) Among Patients Taking Antihypertensive Medications
This team will evaluate antihypertensive medication treatment in patients with confirmed COVID-19 infection and high blood pressure and their results could have an immediate impact on clinical guidance for patient care.

Massachusetts General Hospital, led by Michael T. Lu, M.D., M.P.H. -- Deep learning using chest radiographs to predict COVID-19 cardiopulmonary risk
Working with the Mass General Brigham hospitals, this team will use deep learning techniques and the initial chest x-ray of patients admitted for treatment to develop a new way to predict COVID-19 cardiopulmonary collapse and death.

Mayo Clinic, led by Ognjen Gajic, M.D. -- Cardiovascular Outcomes and Biomarker Titrated Corticosteroid Dosing for SARS COV-2 (COVID-19) A Randomized Controlled Trial
This team will expand its current SMART randomized clinical trial to add the evaluation of biomarker-titrated corticosteroids dosing compared to usual care for treating COVID-19 patients.

Stanford University, led by Paul Heidenreich, M.D. -- Outcomes for Patients with Hypertension, Diabetes and Heart Disease in the Coronavirus Pandemic Impact of Angiotensin Converting Enzyme Inhibitors and Angiotensin Receptor Blockers Treatment
Working with the VA Palo Alto Health Care System, Stanford Health Care and Northern California Kaiser, this team will study the use of ACE and ARBs on patients with high blood pressure or diabetes during the COVID-19 pandemic to determine trends in the rates of COVID-19 infection, influenza, medication adherence, hospitalizations and deaths to improve patient management practices.

University of California, Los Angeles, led by Tzung K. Hsiai, M.D., Ph.D. -- Rapid COVID-19-on-A-Chip to Screen Competitive Targets for SARS-CoV-2 Spike Binding Sites
Working with the UCLA Cancer Virology Program, California Nanosystems Institute, Statistics and Epidemiology, Data Science, Behavioral Sciences, UCLA Medical Center and West Los Angeles VA Healthcare System, this team will set out to develop the first-of-its-kind COVID-19-on-a-chip, targeting the heart for now, but adaptable to other organ systems impacted by the infection, including the lung, gut, kidney and brain.

University of California, San Francisco, led by Michelle A. Albert, M.D., M.P.H. -- COVID-19 Infection, African-American Women and Cardiovascular Health
Working with the UCSF NURTURE Center and the Slone Epidemiology Center at Boston University, this team will use the Black Women’s Health Study cohort to understand the experiences and cardiovascular effects of COVID-19 on African-American women, a population historically at the intersection of the worst health and economic disparities in the United States.

University of Colorado, led by Michael R. Bristow, M.D., Ph.D. -- Myocardial Virus and Gene Expression in SARS CoV-2 Positive Patients with Clinically Important Myocardial Dysfunction
This team will study the specific mechanisms for how COVID-19 impacts the cardiovascular system either due to a robust inflammatory response and direct myocardial injury because that distinction can define therapeutic treatment.

University of Massachusetts, led by Jane E. Freedman, M.D. -- The Role of the Platelet in Mediating Cardiovascular Disease in SARS-CoV-2 Infection
This team will study the mechanisms of the platelet-mediated immune response of the COVID-19 virus on the cardiovascular system collecting fundamental molecular knowledge about the disease course of infection that will enable development of novel tools and strategies for clinical management that will lead to improved outcomes.

University of Nebraska Medical Center, led by Rebekah L. Gundry, Ph.D. -- Harnessing Glycomics to Understand Myocardial Injury in COVID-19
This group will be exploring specific pathways and biomarkers to identify those most at risk for COVID-19 infection and cardiovascular complications from the virus, and ultimately will look to develop the means for personalized medicine and future genomic testing and treatment.

Cleveland Clinic, led by Mina Chung, M.D. -- Testing of SARS-CoV-2 Infectivity and Antiviral Drug Effects in Engineered Heart Tissue, Microglial Cell Models, and COVID-19 Patient Registries
This team will use a multidisciplinary approach to 1) study the interaction of SARS-CoV-2 spike protein in cardiac and brain cells, 2) screen possible candidate drugs targeting mechanisms of viral infection in these cells, and 3) assess these drugs using AHA’s COVID-19 registry. Expected outcomes include identification of drugs that can be repurposed and advanced toward clinical trials for treatment of COVID-19.

Johns Hopkins University, led by Daniela Cihakova M.D., Ph.D. -- Pathogenesis of Cardiac Inflammation During COVID-19 Infection
This team will seek to identify a potential peripheral biomarker of cardiac inflammation in COVID-19 and address possible mechanisms that lead to cardiac infection and subsequent injury. The results of these studies will also significantly contribute to the knowledge of the immune response in COVID-19 patients.

Cedars-Sinai Board of Governors Regenerative Medicine Institute at the Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, co-led by Clive Svendsen, Ph.D. and by Arun Sharma, Ph.D. -- Human iPSCs and Organ Chips Model SARS-CoV-2-Induced Viral Myocarditis
This team will investigate whether SARS-CoV-2 can directly infect human cardiomyocytes, assess resulting effects and seek to establish a cardiomyocyte-specific antiviral drug screening platform against SARS-CoV-2. The findings potentially may lead to development of novel therapeutics for the cardiac-specific effects of COVID-19.

New York-Presbyterian/Columbia University Irving Medical Center, led by Emily J. Tsai, M.D. -- Elucidating the Pathogenesis of COVID-19 Cardiac Disease Through snRNA-Seq and Histopathological Analysis of Human Myocardium
This team will compare single nuclei RNA sequences and histopathological findings between the hearts of COVID-19 non-survivors with and without suspected COVID-19 cardiac disease. Understanding the viral and host factors that drive cardiac injury in COVID-19 will help determine appropriate therapeutic strategies.

Along with these new rapid response research grants, the American Heart Association is also funding $800,000 in supplemental, short-term special projects for the four centers in its Health Technologies & Innovation Strategically Focused Research Network. This funding is in addition to their original grants and will focus on rapid technology solutions to address the COVID-19 pandemic crisis. Those projects include:

Cincinnati Children's Hospital Ejection Fraction as the Sixth Vital Sign for Patients with COVID-19 Improved triage using point-of-care echocardiography

The Johns Hopkins University In-Home Diagnostic Triage via Smartphone Video Virtual Check-In for Potential Stroke Symptoms During the COVID-19 Pandemic A Novel Approach to Improving Cardiovascular Health Equity and Long-Term Cardiovascular Prevention

Stanford UniversityDigital COVID-19 Patient Tracking and Reporting Tool Kit Focused on Patients with Cardiovascular Complications and Disease

University of MichiganCOVID-19 Health Evaluation & Cardiovascular Complications (CHECC) Study Using mHealth to Track Physiological and Cardiovascular Consequences of the COVID-19 Pandemic


Awardees Presenting at 2020 Scientific Sessions

Awardees Presenting at 2020 Scientific Sessions
First Name Last Name Institution Name Session # Session Title Role Session Type OnDemand/ Featured
Mina Chung Cleveland Clinic Foundation EA.CVS.294 The New Pillar of AF Management: How to Effect Lifestyle/Risk Factor Modification for Your Patients with AF Moderator Cardiovascular Seminar On Demand
Mina Chung Cleveland Clinic Foundation EA.FIS.779 Arrhythmia Research Summit: Atrial Fibrillation - Translational Approaches Invited Presenter Frontiers in Science On Demand
Mina Chung Cleveland Clinic Foundation EA.JS.785 2020 Updates in Arrhythmia Detection and Management from the Experts - AHA Joint Session with Heart Rhythm Society Moderator Joint Session On Demand
Michelle Albert The Regents of the University of California, San Francisco GR.ME.377 How To Use Behavioral Interventions To Advance Equity in Cardiovascular Health Invited Presenter Main Event Featured (Simulive)
Michelle Albert The Regents of the University of California, San Francisco PR.ME.731 From Trials to Bedside: Filling the Gaps in Implementing Evidence-based Care Invited Presenter Main Event Featured (live)
Paul Heidenreich Palo Alto Veterans Institute for Research QU.CVS.793 2020 ACC/AHA Performance Measures for Adult Heart Failure Care Invited Presenter Cardiovascular Seminar On Demand
Jane Freedman University of Massachusetts Medical School SA.JS.825 Cardiac Surgery During the COVID-19 Pandemic: Lessons Learned - AHA Joint Session with the Society of Thoracic Surgeons Session Invited Presenter Joint Session On Demand

American Heart Association and the Global COVID-19 Pandemic

Visit AHAjournals.org/Coronavirus for the AHA president’s statement, related journal articles, and other resources. Included on the site is a Circulation series of video interviews on best practices and insights from healthcare providers on the front lines, across the U.S. and around the world.