The Henrietta B. and Frederick H. Bugher Foundation

Published: May 03, 2021

ASA/Bugher Foundation Centers of Excellence

Background

Together, the Bugher Foundation and the American Heart Association have built a legacy of scientific excellence, boundary‐pushing science and research paradigms, and interventions improving the health of all Americans. Starting in 1986 with the launch of the Bugher Centers for Training in Molecular Biology, the Foundation has built a grantmaking legacy with the backbone of large, game‐changing research grants, as well as strategic giving designed to explore otherwise uninvestigated aspects of clinical care -‐ and they show no signs of slowing. The American Heart Association is proud and honored to call the Trustees of the Bugher Foundation among their oldest and closest friends. 

To date, the partnership between the Bugher Foundation and the American Heart/American Stroke Association has seen many successes and accomplishments. Together we have trained over 150 postdoctoral fellows who have continued to secure prestigious academic appointments, successfully compete for millions in independent funding for their research, and produce hundreds of publications to accelerate knowledge discovery.

2021: ASA/Bugher Foundation Centers of Excellence in Hemorrhagic Stroke

The Henrietta B. and Frederick H. Bugher Foundation and the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association awarded research grants to four multidisciplinary teams that comprise the Centers of Excellence in Hemorrhagic Stroke Research Network. The teams are working to develop scientific breakthroughs to improve prevention, treatment and health outcomes related to hemorrhagic, or bleeding, strokes.

The network is supported by an $11.12M gift to scientific research from the Henrietta B. and Frederick H. Bugher Foundation, who over four decades has donated nearly $50M in cardiovascular disease and stroke research.

View the initial Request for Applications (PDF)

Research teams at Massachusetts General Hospital, Yale University, and the University of California, San Francisco have been awarded grants to establish Centers of Excellence in Hemorrhagic Stroke research. The University of California, San Francisco will receive a separate, additional grant award to establish a centralized training center to grow science curriculum and career-development training opportunities to help create the next generation of stroke scientists and researchers. The projects commenced on January 1, 2021.

Image of Dr. Rosand

American Stroke Association-Bugher Foundation Center for Excellence in Brain Health for Hemorrhagic Stroke at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston

Led by Jonathan Rosand, M.D., M.Sc., a professor of neurology at Harvard and founder of the McCance Center for Brain Health at Massachusetts General Hospital, this team will undertake three projects designed to answer fundamental questions of brain health and health care disparities. 

Their clinical project will study how social determinants of health and social networks influence blood pressure control, which is strongly associated with brain health after a hemorrhagic stroke. Those findings, combined with clinical, imaging and genetic data, will be used to design interventions to improve blood pressure control. 

Within their population project, they will create a brain health risk assessment tool using the electronic health record, then perform a clinical trial among physicians to assess how improved resource use can optimize brain health after a bleeding stroke. They will also build and test polygenic risk scores and confirm their usefulness in diverse populations. 

The team’s basic science project will investigate cortical superficial siderosis (CSS), a novel biomarker for recurrent bleeding in hemorrhagic strokes, to identify the biology linking CSS to clinical deterioration. Their goal is to generate targets for novel therapeutics that can ultimately be proven to preserve brain health after a hemorrhagic stroke.

Images of Drs. Sansing and Sheth

Yale AHA/Bugher Center of Research Excellence in Hemorrhagic Stroke Prevention & Treatment at Yale University School of Medicine in New Haven, Conn.

Led by co-directors Lauren Sansing, M.D., M.S. an associate professor and academic chief in the Division of Stroke and Vascular Neurology at Yale School of Medicine, and Kevin Sheth, M.D., a professor of neurology and neurosurgery and associate chair for clinical research in the Department of Neurology at Yale, this team will seek to personalize the treatment of high blood pressure, the most common risk factor for hemorrhagic stroke patients. 

Their first project will include studying how the body’s immune system signals the brain during a bleeding stroke and how current blood pressure medications affect those signals for better or worse. 

The second project will study which blood pressure medications are best at lowering blood pressure in people who have had a brain bleed, using measurements of kidney proteins to determine efficacy in the medications. This project will begin to study a one-time kidney procedure as a potentially creative way to achieve better blood pressure control. 

The team’s third project will focus on genetics to help figure out how a particular medicine can work in a specific person. The ultimate goal of the team will be to develop a personalized medicine tool to deliver the individual risk information to treating providers to aid in decision-making.

Image of Dr. Fullerton
Improving Outcomes of Children with Hemorrhagic Stroke and Brain Arteriovenous Malformations at the University of California, San Francisco

Led by Heather Fullerton, M.D., M.A.S., chief of child neurology and medical director of the Pediatric Brain Center at the University of California, San Francisco’s Benioff Children's Hospital, this team will focus on hemorrhagic strokes in children, which account for more than half of incident strokes in this age group. They will specifically study brain arteriovenous malformations (bAVM), abnormal connections between arteries and veins in the brain. Usually present at birth, these malformed vessels can change over time in ways that make them more likely to rupture and injure the surrounding brain. Although doctors can cure bAVMs and prevent stroke through surgery or treatment with radiation, those therapies can also injure the brain. Better information is needed to help guide treatment decisions.

The team’s first project will look at brain pictures and blood tests that can help predict dangerous changes to a bAVM and the second project will use imaging to map out brain networks around malformations to help preserve brain functions during treatment. 

Finally, the team will work with the International Pediatric Stroke Study, which includes more than 6,000 children with ischemic stroke, to build a new patient registry for children with brain AVMs and hemorrhagic stroke. Analysis of patient records from that registry can be used to better understand how factors like race, education and where a child lives can impact their risk and experience with bAVMs and bleeding strokes. They will use all project results to develop a decision tree to guide the care of brain AVMs in children.

Image of Dr. Ko

University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) Establishes the 
Bugher Foundation Hemorrhagic Stroke Scholars Program

A Centralized Research Training and Leadership Center

Under the direction of Nerissa Ko, M.D., M.A., a professor of neurology at UCSF Weill Institute for Neurosciences, a grant team will design and share specialized curriculum, resources and tools to help train researchers at the three centers, as well as establish protocols to train the next generation of stroke scientists for the future.

1986-1996: Centers for Molecular Biology in the Cardiovascular System 

In 1984, the foundation sought the guidance of the American Heart Association in identifying a focus for its research support. The association suggested a program to bring molecular biology training to clinically-trained investigators. This was the beginning of a continuing relationship with the association.

As a result of a partnership between the Bugher Foundation and the American Heart Association, the Centers for Molecular Biology in the Cardiovascular System was established. The association administered six Centers for Molecular Biology in the Cardiovascular System from 1986-96, using a $9.4 million contribution from the Bugher Foundation. About 120 clinically-trained fellows learned molecular biology techniques through the efforts of these six centers. The centers were located at the following institutions:

  • Baylor College of Medicine, Houston
  • Brigham and Women's Hospital
  • Children's Hospital, Boston
  • Stanford University
  • University of California, San Diego
  • University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas

1998-2006: AHA-Bugher Awards for the Investigation of Stroke

In 1998, the Bugher Foundation committed $7.5 million over eight years to support AHA-Bugher Foundation Awards for the Investigation of Stroke. In 1999, the Bugher Foundation increased its commitment to this AHA-Bugher initiative by offering the American Heart Association a challenge grant of $1 million to match two-for-one with new dollars in the community. The additional contribution from the Bugher Foundation and the community-at-large supported eight more stroke grants. The AHA-Bugher Foundation Awards for the Investigation of Stroke encourage the development of better stroke preventive measures and better stroke interventions. The association activated a total of 35 awards in January 2000, January 2001 and July 2005. This commitment enabled the association to support another of its goals: to expand research funded through the National Center to promising new areas by launching targeted research programs, focusing on any aspect of brain vascular function related to stroke. Such investigations included but were not limited to:

  • Blood-brain barrier function
  • Endothelial mechanisms in cerebral vessels
  • Interaction of stroke risk factors with cerebral blood vessels
  • Male/female differences in cerebral blood vessel function
  • Mechanisms of ischemic injury (involving cerebral blood vessels)
  • Molecular biology of cerebral vessels
  • Molecular genetics (of disorders of cerebral blood vessels)
  • Regulation of cerebral blood vessels

2007-2011: American Stroke Association-Bugher Foundation Centers for Stroke Prevention Research

In 2006, the Bugher Foundation joined with the American Stroke Association, a division of the American Heart Association, to support a network of three Centers for Stroke Prevention Research for four years. These awards were activated July 1, 2007, and funded through June 30, 2011, with a total commitment of $8.4 million. The initiative produced a network of interacting institutions and scientists for collaborative, multidisciplinary research and training to improve the prevention of stroke. The goals of the initiative were:

  • Generating innovative ideas
  • Creating dramatic gains in the field
  • Networking to fill knowledge gaps and expertise in research

2014-2018: American Stroke Association-Bugher Foundation Centers for Excellence in Stroke Collaborative Research for Regeneration, Resilience and Secondary Prevention

In 2011, the Bugher Foundation committed $9.24 million to create a new network of three centers for excellence in stroke collaborative research for a period of four years. This initiative supported the collaboration of basic, clinical and population researchers from different specialties, whose collective efforts will lead to new approaches to prevent and treat stroke. Efforts have expanded upon previous Bugher initiatives by inviting research on recovery after a stroke, including the areas of repair, regeneration, neuroplasticity and rehabilitation. These Centers were activated on April 1, 2014. at the following institutions:

  • University of California, Los Angeles
  • University of Colorado, Denver
  • University of Miami


View the Bugher Foundation Awardees


Contact Us

For program questions/inquiries, please email StrategicAwards@heart.org