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2021 Merit Award

Statement of Purpose

To fund investigators with stellar track records of accomplishment, demonstrated by a history of extramural funding and excellent publication records with substantial impact, who have the potential to move a field of science forward with creative approaches that are aligned with the mission of the American Heart Association: To be a relentless force for a world of longer, healthier lives.

AHA Merit Awardees are considered to be AHA ambassadors in terms of strong scientific achievement, and also in terms of positive advocacy, volunteer service and commitment to AHA‘s science and mission related activities. This advocacy maybe demonstrated by:

  • Active involvement in local or national level AHA committees and activities
  • Consistent championing of AHA’s mission to be a relentless force for a world of longer, healthier lives
  • Vision to assist the AHA in becoming a catalyst to achieve maximum impact in equitable health and wellbeing


Awarded investigators are expected to demonstrate a combination of the following attributes that distinguish them from other highly competent scientists in their field:

  • Likelihood of transforming and advancing the future of CV and stroke science.
  • Potential to move their research into emerging and/or difficult areas of inquiry, being consistently at its forefront.
  • Ability to develop new tools and methods that support creative experimental approaches to questions, encompassing concepts or techniques from other disciplines.
  • Capacity to forge links between disparate disciplines.
  • Strong track record of collaboration with other distinguished scientists across disciplines.
  • Evidence of original and innovative contributions to science.
  • Demonstrated commitment to the mission of the American Heart Association and to advancing the ideals and guiding principles through volunteer service.


The research does not need to be described in the detail that would be expected in an NIH R0-1, since the track record and expectations of continued excellence of the investigator are the primary award criteria.  The application must include a summary of the applicant’s proposed work in terms that can be readily understood by lay members of the review panel.

This investigator competition places no restrictions on the number of applications from any eligible institution.  It is anticipated that the competition for these awards will be extremely keen.  Candidates with outstanding records who have shown evidence of significant originality and accomplishments are encouraged to apply.

AHA believes diversity and inclusion is an essential component to driving its mission and strongly 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.

Eligibility

This award will be given to applicants with the following or equivalent credentials:

  • Ph.D. and/or M.D. (or the equivalent).
  • Tenured or tenure-track professor (exceptional associate professors may be considered) at an eligible nonprofit U.S. institution or, if at an eligible institution that has no tenure track, hold an appointment that reflects a significant institutional commitment at the time of the application deadline. (Federal government employees are not eligible.)
  • History of extramural funding. Mentored awards, career development and training grants do not qualify.

Citizenship

Awardees 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

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

Letter of Intent (LOI) - Required

A letter of intent (LOI), limited to two pages, will be required. AHA will contact applicants with the highest-rated LOIs and invite them to submit a full application. Applicants will receive no reviewer feedback on letters of intent. The LOI should briefly address the following points.

Describe why the AHA should invest in your proposed vision for the future in terms of:

  • Likelihood of transforming and advancing the future of CV and stroke science.
  • Potential to move your research into emerging and/or difficult areas of inquiry, being consistently at its forefront.
  • Ability to develop new tools and methods that support creative experimental approaches to questions, encompassing concepts or techniques from other disciplines.
  • Capacity to forge links between disparate disciplines.
  • Strong track record of collaboration across disciplines.
  • Evidence of original and innovative contributions to science
  • Demonstrated commitment to the mission of the AHA and to advancing the ideals and guiding principles through volunteer service.


Upload a list of your 15 most impactful and/or foundational publications that are relevant to the proposed research focus or this program in a pdf document (limited to 2 pages). When selecting, consider those which are foundational papers that support your research program; those that are most cited; and for more recent publications, those in the most high-impact journals or that you predict will elicit the most citations.

Upload your biosketch (limited to 5 pages).

No reference letters are to be supplied with the initial LOI. Two references will be required from those selected to submit a full application.

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.

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 Administrations employees.

Award Amount & Duration

  • Awards are for a five-year period
  • $200,000 annually for 5 years = $1,000,000 per award
  • Budget can cover costs such as PI salary/fringe; salaries/fringe of lab personnel; other expenses such as laboratory costs; animal costs; human subject recruitment/reimbursement; travel; publication costs, etc.  Indirect costs are limited to 10 percent of the annual award total

Important Conditions

  • Awarded investigators are required to devote at least 75% of their total effort to research. An appropriate effort must be devoted to the work related to this award. Applicants with administrative responsibilities or other duties inconsistent with this time commitment may apply, but must reduce those other commitments to be appointed.
  • At the time of the submission deadline, applicants must hold a qualifying position at the institution where the research will be conducted.
  • Awarded investigators will be expected to participate in various AHA events, including (but not limited to) Scientific Sessions and other scientific conferences, as well as speaking engagements, local activities, etc.
  • Strategically Focused Research Network personnel may hold individual AHA awards.