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Collaborative Sciences Award

This RFA will be updated for 2021 approximately four months prior to the letter of intent deadline.

Program Description and Eligibility

Success Rates

Statement of Purpose

To foster innovative collaborative approaches to research projects that propose novel pairings of investigators from at least two broadly disparate disciplines. The proposal must focus on the collaborative relationship, such that the scientific objectives could not be achieved without the efforts of at least two co-principal investigators and their respective disciplines.

The combination and integration of studies may be inclusive of basic, clinical, population, behavioral, and/or translational research. Projects must include at least one Co-PI from a field outside cardiovascular disease and stroke.

This award is also intended to foster collaboration between established and early- or mid-career investigators.

Applications by existing collaborators are permitted, provided that the proposal is for a new and novel idea or approach that has not been funded before.

Science Focus

Multidisciplinary research broadly related to cardiovascular function, cardiovascular disease, and stroke, or to related clinical, basic science, bioengineering, biotechnology, or public health problems.


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

AHA awards are open to the array of academic and health professionals. This includes but is not limited to all academic disciplines (biology, chemistry, engineering, mathematics, technology, physics, etc.) and all health-related professions (physicians, nurses, advanced practice nurses, pharmacists, dentists, physical and occupational therapists, statisticians, nutritionists, behavioral scientists, health attorneys, engineers, etc.).

AHA maintains dedicated Peer Review Committees by program type and subject.

AHA strongly supports diversity and inclusion and encourages applications by women, underrepresented racial and ethnic groups in the sciences, military veterans, people with disabilities, members of the LGBTQ community, and those who have experienced varied and non-traditional career trajectories .


An application must be submitted jointly by at least two co-principal investigators, but no more than four.

  • At least one Co-PI must work in cardiovascular or stroke-related research.
  • At least one Co-PI must work in a divergent/disparate discipline (e.g. engineering, computer science, chemistry, mathematics, psychology, health law, etc.) and/or without prior focus in cardiovascular or stroke-related research.
  • At least one Co-PI must be an early-career (assistant professor or equivalent) or mid-career (associate professor or equivalent) investigator.
  • Co-PIs must each hold faculty/staff appointments.
  • Co-PIs must be independent researchers (i.e. must meet their institutions’ eligibility to apply for independent awards). This award is not intended for individuals in research training or fellowship positions.
  • Co-PIs may be from the same institution, or from different institutions.
  • Co-PIs must be from different disciplines and/or areas of expertise. For example: A collaboration between a clinician and a basic scientist or other collaboration that would not arise otherwise (organically).
    Examples of partnerships that have been funded:
    • A materials scientist with no previous cardiovascular or stroke-related research collaborating with an interventional cardiac electrophysiologist;
    • A synthetic biologist collaborating with a cardiac biologist;
    • A chemist specializing in RNA molecular biology collaborating with a practicing neonatologist with research in cell signaling, hemostasis and thrombosis;
    • A kidney disease/ciliopathy researcher collaborating with clinical researcher in genetic causes of bicuspid aortic valve disease and a basic science researcher also studying genetic valvular diseases.
  • The applicants should adequately convey that they are of equal stature in the project.
  • If more than three co-PIs are proposed, the applicants should provide clear evidence that they are equal co-PIs. If this will not be the case, then the applicants should classify additional personnel as collaborating investigators or consultants.
  • Each Co-PI must hold a M.D., Ph.D., D.O., D.D.S., D.V.M. or equivalent post-baccalaureate terminal (highest-level) degree in his/her discipline.
  • One of the Co-PIs’ institutions must be designated as the institution of record, agreeing to sponsor the application and accept award payments and ensuring that annual progress reports and expenditure reports are submitted to AHA.

Percent Effort

While no minimum percent effort is specified, the Co-PIs must demonstrate that adequate time will be devoted to ensuring successful completion of the proposed project.


At the time of application, each co-PI must have one of the following designations:

  • U.S. citizen
  • Permanent resident
  • Pending permanent resident (must have filed Form I-485 for permanent resident status and obtained a I-797C Notice of Action that the application has been received by USCIS and case is pending)
  • E-3 Visa - specialty occupation worker
  • G-4 Visa - family member of employee of international organizations
  • H1-B Visa - temporary worker in a specialty occupation
  • J-1 Visa - exchange visitor (for non-training awards, you must have obtained an H-1B or equivalent by the award activation date)
  • O-1 Visa - temporary worker with extraordinary abilities in the sciences
  • TN Visa – NAFTA Professional
One of the designations listed above must be held throughout the duration of the award.

Eligible Sponsoring Institution

American Heart Association research awards are limited to U.S.-based 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 others that can demonstrate the ability to conduct the proposed research. Each co-PI must be from an institution that fulfills this definition.

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.


$250,000 per year, including 10% institutional indirect costs.

The award may be used for salary and fringe benefits of the Co-principal investigators, collaborating investigator(s), and other participants with faculty appointments, consistent with percent effort, and for project-related expenses, such as salaries of technical personnel essential to the conduct of the project, supplies, equipment, computers/electronics, travel (including international travel), volunteer subject costs, and publication costs, etc.

Award Duration: Three years

Total Award Amount: $750,000

Letter of Intent (3-page limit)

A letter of intent (LOI)  is required to ensure responsiveness to the novel, collaborative nature of this program. The novel relationship and proposed collaboration of investigators from at least two widely disparate disciplines will be given the most weight in evaluating the LOI to determine which teams will be invited to submit full applications.

The letter must describe the specific inclusion of at least one early or mid-career Co-PI, and an innovative, collaborative approach to research which incorporates a novel grouping of investigators from at least two widely disparate disciplines and/or areas of expertise. The written summary must focus on the collaborative relationship of the investigators, such that the scientific objectives cannot be achieved without the efforts of at least two co-principal investigators and their respective disciplines and expertise. If any of the Co-PIs have collaborated in the past, explain how this collaboration is different from previous interactions. The combination and integration of studies may be inclusive of basic, clinical, population, behavioral, and/or translational research.

LOIs to the Collaborative Sciences Award will be assigned to a group of multidisciplinary reviewers. Your application may be reviewed by someone working in a related area and/or experts directly related to your science area. Aim the LOI at both the expert in the field and at the generalist. The LOI should be appropriate for reviewers who have a broad knowledge of the scientific area.

  •  In addition to the LOI, a biosketch from each of the proposed Co-Principal Investigators must be uploaded into ProposalCentral.

The Letter of Intent and biosketches must be submitted via ProposalCentral before the posted deadline. Each Co-Principal Investigator must join the application and complete applicable sections of the application. An applicant may be a Co-Principal Investigator on ONLY ONE Collaborative Sciences Award application.

Peer Review Criteria (for invited applicants)

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.

  • The proposal must expand on the LOI detailing the collaborative relationship, such that the scientific objectives cannot be achieved without the efforts of at least two co-principal investigators and their respective disciplines. The combination and integration of studies may be inclusive of basic, clinical, population, behavioral, and/or translational research.
    1. Collaboration: It is incumbent upon the applicants to convey the highly novel nature of their relationship. Are the investigators from at least two widely disparate disciplines and/or areas of expertise? How does the proposed collaborative relationship strengthen or weaken the proposal? Does the proposal focus on the collaborative relationship, such that the proposed objectives could not be reached without the efforts of both principal investigators and both (or al) disciplines? Does the effort of each Co-PI reflect proper equity in the project?
    2. Investigators: Does the investigative team bring diverse, complementary and integrated expertise to the project? Are the investigators appropriately trained and well suited to carry out this work? Is the work proposed appropriate to the experience levels of the principal investigators and other researchers? How does the investigators’ previous work (which is not required to be directly related to cardiovascular disease or stroke) strengthen and ensure the project’s success?
    3. Significance: Does this study address an important problem broadly related to cardiovascular disease or stroke? If the aims of the application are achieved, how will scientific knowledge or clinical practice be advanced? What will be the effect of these studies on the concepts, methods and technologies that drive this field?
    4. Approach: Are the conceptual framework, design, methods and analyses adequately developed, well integrated, well-reasoned, feasible (as determined by preliminary data), and appropriate to the aims of the proposal? Is the project scope likely to be completed within the award period? Does the applicant acknowledge potential problem areas and consider alternative tactics?
    5. Innovation: Is the proposal original and innovative? For example: Does the proposal challenge existing paradigms and address an innovative hypothesis or critical barrier to progress in the field? Will the project foster or employ novel concepts, approaches, methodologies, tools or technologies for this area? How does the diversity of disciplines and/or expertise of the collaborators make the innovation possible?
    6. Environment: Does the environment in which the work will be done contribute to the probability of success? Does the proposal benefit from unique features of the investigative environment(s), or subject populations, or employ useful collaborative arrangements? Is there evidence of institutional support?
    7. Impact: How effectively does the applicant describe for an audience without a science background how this proposal will impact the AHA’s mission? Applications for research funding will be assessed for their potential impact on the AHA Mission, and on the applicant’s ability to effectively describe the proposal and its potential outcomes to non-scientists. This potential impact assessment will be based primarily on the Summary for Non-scientists (lay summary) and any lay reviewers’ impressions. This assessment will be factored into the Impact peer review criterion, which will account for 5-10% of the overall priority score.


  • An applicant may be the Co-PI on only one Collaborative Sciences Award application per deadline.
  • A Collaborative Sciences awardee may also apply for or hold another AHA research award (e.g., Established Investigator Award, Innovative Project Award,  Transformational Project Award, AHA Institutional Research Enhancement Award, or Career Development Award) and may be the program director or sponsor on an AHA Institutional Undergraduate Fellowship Program award.
  • Strategically Focused Research Network personnel may hold individual AHA awards, including a Collaborative Sciences Award.
  • A Fellow-to-Faculty Transition Award recipient may apply for and receive a Collaborative Science Award during the faculty phase. The awardee may request only project support from the Collaborative Science Award, since the Fellow-to-Faculty Transition Award provides significant salary support.
  • Awards are not intended to supplement or duplicate currently funded work. Rather, it is expected that submitted applications will describe projects that are clearly distinct from ongoing research activities. Minor variations from existing research projects are not sufficient to constitute independent and distinct projects. 
Access the AHA Precision Medicine Platform for your Application

The AHA Precision Medicine Platform is creating a community of cloud-based tools and resources for all cardiovascular and cerebrovascular disease researchers. Learn more about the platform (video). AHA awardees can have complimentary access to the Precision Medicine Platform to perform data analyses during the length of their AHA awards. Explore the capabilities of the platform (video).

The Precision Medicine Platform adheres to HIPAA (pdf) policy and is FedRAMP (pdf) compliant. Only the applicant and collaborators, co-investigators, or lab members are permitted access. The applicant is responsible for ensuring that all individuals with access to the workspace have the appropriate data access approvals.

To qualify for a complimentary Precision Medicine Platform workspace during the award, applicants must use a secure complimentary trial workspace on the Precision Medicine Platform to link preliminary data analyses and provide a description of the tools to be used in the workspace to analyze and visualize data. The workspace will only be available until the deadline for this AHA application. Data in the trial workspace will not be saved after the application deadline.

Register to obtain a 30-day trial workspace to use during the application period.  Once registered, go to the Search page, click Request Workspace, complete the form, and Submit. Note:  While the request form mentions billing, but there is no charge for use of the Precision Medicine Platform during the trial period. View detailed instructions and helpful information (pdf).