Strategically Focused Research Programs

Updated:Feb 24,2014

About Our Research Logo

The American Heart Association has always been interested in the science community exploring all aspects of basic, clinical and population science which can assist the AHA in reaching its 2020 Goals and overall mission of building healthier lives free of cardiovascular disease and stroke. The AHA has conducted extensive discussions among all AHA stakeholders to determine what the key attributes and guiding principles should be as AHA strengthens and enhances its commitment to CV and neurosciences research as it drives toward its Mission.

Current InitiativesRecently Funded InitiativesPast Initiatives 
Strategically Focused Research NetworkHenrietta B. and Frederick H. Bugher FoundationJohn Holden DeHaan Foundation
  Pharmaceutical Roundtable

Current Initiatives

Starting in 2014-2015, the American Heart Association will begin funding two Strategically Focused Research Networks (SFRN) each year with launches occurring approximately every six months. Each Network will be comprised of three to four institutions working on three projects each that will be focused on one area strategic to AHA's Mission. In 2013, the SFRN topic was Prevention. Read more information about upcoming SFRN initiatives.

Recently Funded Initiatives

In 2011, the Henrietta B. and Frederick H. 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 new initiative will support 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 will expand upon previous Bugher initiatives by inviting research on recovery after a stroke, including the areas of repair, regeneration, neuroplasticity and rehabilitation. The new Centers will activate on April 1, 2014. Read more about the Bugher Foundation.

Past Initiatives

In 2009, with support from the Jon Holden DeHaan Foundation, investigators began efforts to understand the fundamental mechanisms underlying development and specification of cardiac myocytes. The insights gained from these studies will benefit patients with cardiac injury. Since their inception, the AHA/Jon Holden DeHaan Cardiac Myogenesis Research Centers have hosted multiple conferences, scientific retreats and collaborations with members of the science community to move the field closer to a clinical trial. The Centers are scheduled to complete their projects in March 2013 and have reported more than $40 million dollars in new research funding leveraged from their individual AHA/DeHaan grants.  Read more about the John Holden DeHaan Foundation.

In 2008, with a $14.5 million contribution from the American Heart Association Pharmaceutical Roundtable and a generous gift from American Heart Association board member David Spina and his wife, Stevie, the AHA funded four centers for cardiovascular and stroke outcomes research. These centers have made strides to determine what interventions, environments, patient factors and other issues most influence improvements in healthcare outcomes for heart disease and stroke patients. Over the past four years, the AHA/PRT-Spina Outcomes Research Centers have trained more than 20 postdoctoral fellows in outcomes research, 15 of whom have moved into faculty positions as a result of their time with the PRT Centers. More than 300 publications have resulted from the outstanding work of participants in the network.  Read more about the Pharmaceutical Roundtable.



The AHA continues to establish research funding partnerships with organizations that share a common interest in developing targeted fields related to cardiovascular disease and stroke. In FY 11-12, these partnerships funded training and early career awards in some of the following areas:
  • Resuscitation (Philips Medical Systems)
  • Myocarditis (Myocarditis Foundation)
  • Gerontological Nursing (Gerontological Society of America
  • National Hartford Centers of Gerontological Nursing Excellence)
  • Neurology (American Brain Foundation)
  • Pulmonary Hypertension(Pulmonary Hypertension Association)

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