Innovative Research Grant

General Application Information

Application Deadline: July 26, 2016

Award Activation: Jan. 1, 2017

The application must be submitted by 5:00 p.m. Central Time in ProposalCentral on the deadline date. The application will be submitted to the designated grant officer, who will submit it to the American Heart Association (AHA).

Program Description and Eligibility

Success Rates


To support highly innovative, high-risk, high-reward research that could ultimately lead to critical discoveries or major advancements that will accelerate the field of cardiovascular and stroke research.

Research deemed innovative may introduce a new paradigm, challenge current paradigms, look at existing problems from new perspectives, or exhibit other uniquely creative qualities. The Innovative Research Grant (IRG) promotes new ideas; therefore, proposals need not include preliminary data. However, a solid rationale for the work must be provided. Proposed work should not be the next logical step of previous work, but should have a high probability of revealing new avenues of investigation, if successful. This program aims to provide pilot or seed funding that should lead to successful competition for additional funding beyond the pilot period. The principal investigator (PI) is responsible for clearly and explicitly articulating the project's innovation and the potential impact on cardiovascular and stroke research.

Science Focus

Research broadly related to cardiovascular function and disease and stroke, or to related clinical, basic science, bioengineering or biotechnology, and public health problems, including multidisciplinary efforts.


Proposals are encouraged from all basic, behavioral, epidemiological, and community and clinical investigations that bear on cardiovascular and stroke problems.

Target Audience

At the time of application, the applicant must:

  • Hold an M.D., Ph.D., D.O. or equivalent doctoral degree.

Eligibility for the Innovative Research Grant is not restricted based upon experience level or seniority. Seniority will not be used as a criterion in evaluating an application's merit.

At the time of award activation, must:

  • Have a faculty (or faculty equivalent) appointment. This award is not intended for postdoctoral fellows or others in research training positions.


At time of application, must have one of the following designations:

  • U.S. citizen
  • Permanent resident
  • Pending permanent resident. Applicants must have applied for permanent residency and have filed form I-485 with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services and have received authorization to legally remain in the United States (having filed an Application for Employment Form I-765).
  • E3 - specialty occupation worker
  • H-1B Visa - temporary worker in a specialty occupation
  • J-1 Visa-exchange visitor. Note: You must have an H-1B or equivalent by the award activation date. If the H-1B or equivalent is not received by the award activation date, the award must be relinquished.
  • O-1 Visa - temporary worker with extraordinary abilities in the sciences
  • TN Visa - NAFTA professional
  • G-4 Visa - family member of employee of international organizations and NATO

Awardee must meet American Heart Association citizenship criteria throughout the duration of the award.

Location of Work

Association-wide programs are open to all affiliates.

American Heart Association research awards are limited to 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 other non-profit institutions that can demonstrate the ability to conduct the proposed research.

Applications will not be accepted for work with funding to be administered through any federal institution or work to be performed by a federal employee, except for Veterans Administration employees.

Applicants are not required to reside in the United States for any period before applying for American Heart Association funding.

Exception: An investigator may be allowed to request approval to conduct work outside the United States temporarily.


Annual Award Maximum Amounts

Salary/Fringe: up to 50% of the total annual award amount may be requested for salary/fringe of the PI, collaborating investigator(s), and others with faculty appointments.

Indirect: not to exceed 10 percent (up to $6,818 included within total annual amount).

Project Support: Salaries of personnel essential to the conduct of the project, supplies, equipment, travel, volunteer subject costs and publication costs within the following limits:

  • Travel - not to exceed $3,000/year; international travel must have prior AHA approval.

Total Annual Award Amount: $75,000

Award Duration: Two years

Abbreviated Proposal

The Innovative Research Grant's abbreviated proposal format is not the same as those used for traditional grants-in-aid. The text for the proposal is limited to five pages (does not include literature/references cited).

Peer Review Criteria

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.

To judge the merit of the application, reviewers will comment on the following criteria. Please be sure that you fully address these in your proposal.

  1. Innovation: Assessment of project's innovative nature should account for 40 percent of the overall score.
    Is the project original and innovative? For example: Does the project challenge existing paradigms and present an innovative hypothesis or address a critical barrier to progress in the field? Does the project develop or employ novel concepts, approaches, methodologies, tools, or technologies for this area?
  2. Significance: Assessment of project's significance to the field of cardiovascular or stroke research should account for 20 percent of the overall score.
    Does this study address an important problem directly related to cardiovascular disease or stroke? If the aims of the application are achieved, will scientific knowledge or clinical practice be significantly impacted? Will there be an effect on the concepts, methods, and technologies that drive this field?
  3. Approach: Assessment of project's approach should account for 20 percent of the overall score.
    Are the conceptual framework, design, methods and analyses adequately developed, well integrated, well reasoned and appropriate to the aims of the project? Does the applicant acknowledge potential problem areas and consider alternative tactics?
  4. Investigator: Assessment of principal investigator should account for 10 percent of the overall score.
    Is the investigator appropriately trained and well suited to carry out this work? Does the investigative team bring complementary and integrated expertise to the project (if applicable)?
  5. Environment: Assessment of scientific environment should account for 10 percent of the overall score.
    Does the scientific environment in which the work will be done contribute to the probability of success? Does the proposal demonstrate that resources will be available to complete the project? Do the proposed studies benefit from unique features of the scientific environment, or subject populations, or employ useful collaborative arrangements?
  6. Impact: How does this project relate to and support the mission of the American Heart Association to building healthier lives, free of cardiovascular diseases and stroke?


  • Resubmissions of prior applications to the AHA Innovative Research Grant program are not accepted.
  • An applicant may submit one association-wide IRG application and one other association-wide application per deadline.
  • The IRG may be held concurrently with an Association Fellow-to-Faculty Transition Award, Clinical Research Program Award, Scientist Development Grant, Established Investigator Award or Grant-in-Aid. The Innovative Research Grant is non-renewable, but may be held more than once by a single investigator provided the projects are separate in nature and concept.
  • Awards are not intended to supplement or duplicate currently funded work.
  • The project submitted can have no scientific or budgetary overlap with other funded work.
  • The extent to which the focus of the project is related to CVD and/or stroke is an important factor that will be considered. However, the applicant is not required to be a part of cardiovascular/stroke-oriented laboratory, clinic or department.
  • Postdoctoral fellows and others in research training positions are not eligible, unless they obtain a faculty appointment by the award activation date.


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

Required Application Documents

Submission of proposals for AHA research funding is done entirely online, using ProposalCentral. Paper submissions are not accepted.

When completing an application for funding, the Applicant/Principal Investigator (PI) is required to upload specific documents.

In addition, third party individuals associated with the application will provide supporting documents. All required documents must be uploaded into ProposalCentral by the applicant before the proposal can be submitted. Exception: Several programs require reference reports or letters that will be uploaded into ProposalCentral by the referees. They will use a link that will be sent to them via a system-generated email message. Referees must upload their documents before the proposal can be submitted.

For a complete list of required documents, please refer to the Required Application Documents page. Select the award program to which you are applying, and toggle between the Applicant and Third-party Personnel tabs. Please note: You can only upload required documents. There is no mechanism in the system to accept supplemental materials.

For assistance with preparing your proposal, please see the AHA Application Instructions (PDF).

Innovative Research Grant