Lay Stakeholder Representatives in Science and Research

    The Lay Stakeholder is a volunteer without formal training as a scientist who possesses a strong interest in advancing cardiovascular, cerebrovascular and brain health research, with a focus on overall health and well-being across the lifespan. Interest might be based on intimate experience as a survivor, family member, caregiver, or advocate.


    Lay Stakeholder Engagement is Vital to AHA Science and Research

    • Increases the accountability and transparency of the research process.
    • Provides real-world understanding of what most impacts those affected by cardiovascular and cerebrovascular diseases and/or disorders.
    • Helps shape and influence the culture of the research agenda and strengthens its impact on the mission.
    • Bridges the gap between scientists and patients to alleviate barriers in understanding the focus of why research is necessary.
    • Gives voice to the issues stakeholders think are most important.
    • Integrates a diverse range of views (researchers, health professionals and service-user representatives) so research becomes more effective.
    • Improves understanding of the benefits and burdens of patients in research studies.
    • Informs others of the human dimension of research and its outcome.
    • Prompts a sense of urgency for finding cures and more effective prevention, diagnosis and treatments.

    Benefits to Lay Stakeholders:

    • Increased awareness and respect for the importance of the research enterprise.
    • Demystify the research process for other non-scientists.
    • Gain confidence in the rigor of AHA’s selection of research projects.
    • Satisfaction of contributing to a cure for the prevention of cardiovascular and cerebrovascular diseases and/or disorders.
    • Awareness that real-world lay stakeholder experience can influence the direction of science.

    Benefits to Scientists:

    • Clearer connection between research focus and patients.
    • Respect for the patient's voice.
    • Broader perspective for connecting science with patients.
    • Enhances more patient-centered research.
    • Minimizes scientists' intellectual biases regarding patient involvement.

Lay Stakeholder Requirements

The AHA strives for a demographically diverse group of qualified Lay Stakeholder volunteers who have intimate experience with cardiovascular and/or cerebrovascular disease or disorders from communities across the country. When possible, Lay Stakeholders are assigned to join review committees with which they are specifically suited and have expressed an interest.

  • Survivor/Patient
  • Caregiver/Advocate/Thought Leader


Contact: Elizabeth Cooper or Angela McCarty

Want to join us?

Sign up with the interest form below to let us know you're interested in AHA Research volunteer opportunities.

Learn more: Click on this Introduction to Lay Stakeholders in Science and Research presentation.

AHA logo and the words AHA lay stakeholders in science and medicine

AHA-funded investigators and a lay stakeholder talk about their work

Learn why it's important for non-scientists to be involved in evaluating research proposals, and hear about some of the impactful research being conducted by AHA-funded investigators.

Scroll right for more videos  >>

Task Force Members

The AHA Lay Stakeholder Task Force on Science and Research has broad responsibility for engaging lay people in all aspects of the AHA research enterprise.

2023-24 Members

  • Bernie Dennis, chairperson
  • Mary Ann Bauman, M.D.
    Elvira Dsouza
    Sandra Eason-Perez
    Ronda Johnson
    Kathleen Linta
    Ronald Perez
    Sue Townsel



Read about Lay Stakeholder in Science and Research Task Force activities, member profiles, and volunteer opportunities.  

 Issue 12 - June 2022
 Issue 13 - Summer 2023
 Issue 14 - Winter 2023

Journal Article

Circulation ( | Lay Stakeholders in Science and Research Initiative: A Science Advisory From the American Heart Association

2024 Holidays

AHA offices will be closed:                                    Altum/Proposal Central will be closed:
Jan. 1 Sept. 2   Jan. 1 July 4
Jan. 15 Nov. 28 & 29   Jan. 15 Sept. 2
May 27 Dec. 23-27   Feb. 19 Oct. 14
July 4     May 27 Nov. 28 & 29

    June 19 Dec. 23-27

Lay Stakeholder Representatives in Science and Research