American Heart Association – Rapid Response Grant

March 26, 2020 by


Coronavirus infection (coronavirus disease, COVID-19) shows no signs of abating soon. There is an urgent need to better understand the pathobiology and the clinical implications of the viral infection that leads to the morbidity and mortality seen with COVID-19.

Like other diseases associated with the coronavirus family such as SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome), COVID-19 is a disease of the respiratory system. However, those with hypertension and cardiovascular disease appear to be highly susceptible to its more severe effects, with mortality rates 2-3-fold higher, respectively, than the general population (WHO-China Joint Mission report). Recent reports of profound myocarditis and fatal arrhythmias suggest the potential critical influence of COVID-19 on the cardiovascular systems (Yang et al., Int J Infect Dis, S1201-9712(20)30136-3, 2020; Zou et al., Front Med DOI: 10.1007/s11684-020-0754-0, 2020). In addition, there is evidence that coronaviruses can travel retrograde from the lungs to the brainstem cardiorespiratory center via neuronal synapses, potentially contributing to respiratory failure (Li YC et al., J Med Virol, 2020, 1:1-4; Li YC et al., J Comp Neurol, 2013, 521:203-212). The SARS coronavirus, to which the current pandemic virus SARS-CoV-2 is closely related, has been reported in brains from both patients and experimental animals, and the brainstem was heavily infected (Ding Y et al., J Pathol, 2004, 203:622-630; Netland J et al., J Virol, 2008, 82:7264-7275). In the COVID-19 outbreak in China, neurological manifestations occurred in 36% of patients, including stroke in 6% and encephalopathy in 15% (Mao L et al., MedRExiv, 2020,

To address this need, the American Heart Association (AHA) invites cardiovascular-focused applications that will contribute to understanding the cardiovascular and cerebrovascular pathogenesis, diagnosis, prevention, clinical manifestations, clinical management (including critical care management) and social behaviors which can lead to dissemination, containment, and complications of COVID-19. Because of the urgency of this issue, innovative, highly impactful short-term proposals (9-12 months), which can show progress within the period of this award, are sought.

Grant amounts will be up to $100,000. AHA anticipates funding at least 10 awards.

AHA COVID-19 Coordinating Center:

To ensure rapid dissemination of results to the medical and research communities, one grant recipient will be selected to establish the COVID-19 Coordinating Center. This center will coordinate communication among the awardees, help establish collaborations where appropriate, receive results from all awardees and serve to coordinate dissemination of all findings resulting from this mechanism.

The Principal Investigator (PI) of the individual project proposal and the PI of the proposed Coordinating Center may be two different individuals. They do, however, need to be at the same institution.

For those applicants interested in also serving as the AHA COVID-19 Coordinating Center, an additional narrative of 300 words will be required. This narrative should describe the PI’s experience in multi-institutional collaborative research, data management, rapid and accurate dissemination of very contemporary research and clinical information, as well as institutional infrastructure supportive of this need.

The 300 word narrative must be part of the single pdf file that also includes the application and the biosketch.

Up to an additional $150,000 will be awarded for the AHA COVID-19 Coordinating Center.

Key Dates:

The need to move quickly is similarly driving AHA’s timeline and process for submission (April 6th, 2020) and peer review (April 2020). Activation of the awards is planned to occur as early as 6 weeks after grant submission (subject to receipt of required assurances).

Applications for funding are due by Monday, April 6, 2020 at 5 p.m. Central Time.

COVID-19 is a global disease. Whereas awardee institutions must be based in the United States, international partners may be included as part of the proposal and subcontracting to these sites is allowable.

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Filed Under: Funding Opportunities