Scientist Development Grant

Application Deadlines:

  • Founders Affiliate -  Jan. 15, 2016
  • Great Rivers Affiliate -  Jan. 12, 2016
  • Greater Southeast Affiliate - Jan. 15, 2016
  • Mid-Atlantic Affiliate - Jan. 12, 2016
  • Midwest Affiliate - Jan. 13, 2016
  • SouthWest Affiliate - Jan. 14, 2016
  • Western States Affiliate - Jan. 14, 2016

Award Activation:  July 1, 2016

Applications must be received no later than 5:00 p.m. CDT on the deadline date.  The system will shut down at 5:00 p.m. CDT.  Early submission is encouraged.  Your institutional Grants Officer (GO) has the final responsibility of submitting your completed application to the American Heart Association.  It is important that you check with your GO for his/her internal deadline.

Program Description, Eligibility and Peer Review Criteria

Success Rates


To support highly promising beginning scientists in their progress toward independence by encouraging and adequately funding research projects that can bridge the gap between completion of research training and readiness for successful competition as an independent investigator.

Science Focus

Research broadly related to cardiovascular function and disease and stroke, or to related clinical, basic science, bioengineering or biotechnology, and public health problems, including multidisciplinary efforts.


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

Target Audience

At the time of application, the applicant must: 

  • hold an M.D., Ph.D., D.O., D.V.M. or equivalent post-baccalaureate doctoral degree.
At the time of award activation, the applicant must:
  • hold a faculty/staff position up to and including the rank of assistant professor (or equivalent). Applications may be submitted for review in the final year of a postdoctoral research fellowship or in the initial years of the first faculty/staff appointment.
  • have no more than four years since his/her first faculty/staff appointment (after receipt of doctoral degree) at the assistant professor level or its equivalent (including, but not limited to, research assistant professor, research scientist, staff scientist, etc.).
A sponsor is not required, although it is important that applicant's Department Head provides assurance that the applicant has the institution's support.

Percent Effort

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


At the time of application, must have one of the following designations:
  • U.S. citizen
  • Permanent resident
  • Pending permanent resident. Applicants must have applied for permanent residency and have filed form I-485 with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services and have received authorization to legally remain in the United States (having filed an Application for Employment Form I-765)
  • E-3 - specialty occupation worker
  • H1-B Visa - temporary worker in a specialty occupation 
  • J-1 Visa - exchange visitor. Note: You must have an H-1B or equivalent by the award activation date. If the H-1B or equivalent is not received by the award activation date, the award must be relinquished.
  • O-1 Visa - temporary worker with extraordinary abilities in the sciences 
  • TN Visa - NAFTA professional
  • G-4 Visa - family member of employee of international organizations and NATO
Awardee must meet American Heart Association citizenship criteria throughout duration of the award.

Location of Work

The award may be completed at any accredited institution in the following funding components:

Founders -
Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, Vermont
Great Rivers - Delaware, Kentucky, Ohio, Pennsylvania or West Virginia
Greater Southeast - Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, Puerto Rico, Tennessee, U.S. Virgin Islands
Mid-Atlantic -
District of Columbia, Maryland, North Carolina, South Carolina or Virginia
Midwest - Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, North Dakota, Nebraska, South Dakota, Wisconsin
SouthWest -
Arkansas, Colorado, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Texas, Wyoming
Western States -
Alaska, Arizona, California, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Utah, Washington

American Heart Association research awards are limited to 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 other non-profit institutions 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 Administration employees. 

Funding is prohibited for awards at non-U.S. institutions.

Annual Budget

Award: $77,000 per year, including 10% institutional indirect costs.

Salary/Fringe Benefits:
Up to 50% of total award may be used for salary and fringe benefits of the principal investigator, collaborating investigator(s), and other participants with faculty appointments, consistent with percent effort.

Project Support:   Project-related expenses, such as salaries of technical personnel essential to the conduct of the project, supplies, equipment, travel, volunteer subject costs, and publication costs.

  • Travel is limited to $3,000 per year.
  • International travel is permitted without prior AHA approval.
  • No limit on supplies, equipment, computer/electronics, volunteer subject costs, publication costs, etc.

Award Duration:  Three years. Non-renewable.

Total Award Amount:  $231,000


  • An investigator may not hold more than one AHA award concurrently.


a) An investigator may hold two AHA grants (affiliate and association-wide) concurrently if all three apply:

  1. There will be no more than six months remaining on the initial award.
  2. The projects have no overlap in specific aims.
  3. There is no budgetary overlap between the two projects.

b) An investigator may hold the Innovative Research Grant and one other association-wide or affiliate award.

c) For the Great Rivers Affiliate, awardee may also serve as the Principal Investigator for the Undergraduate Student Research Program.   

  • An awardee may hold the Scientist Development Grant only once (association-wide or affiliate).  This award is non-renewable.
  • The project submitted may have no scientific overlap with other funded work.
  • At the time of award activation, individuals are ineligible for the Scientist Development Grant if they have been or are currently funded (extramurally) by any one award for more than one year at a level greater than $95,000 per year in direct costs (salary and project costs).
  • A Scientist Development Grant and an NIH mentored K-series award cannot be held concurrently.
  • An applicant may submit only one AHA association-wide application per deadline. If eligible, an applicant may simultaneously submit an application to an affiliate and to the association-wide program. The proposed research plan may need to be adjusted based upon different length of award and dollars available. The deadline dates may be different for each submission. If both are funded, the applicant must choose one award.
  • Successful applicants who hold any postdoctoral fellowship or training award must resign that award when activating the SDG award. The SDG award serves as a first independent award; therefore, training or fellowship awards (such as the NRSA) cannot be held simultaneously.
  •  An applicant who is unsuccessful in a competition may resubmit the same or similar application three times (the original plus two resubmissions). The same or similar application submitted for the fourth time will be administratively withdrawn.
  • Submission of an application to the AHA with identical or significantly similar content as a submission by another investigator is prohibited. Also, the submission of an application to the AHA with identical or significantly similar content from a sponsor to a grant program and his/her fellow to fellowship program is prohibited. Both applications will receive a recommendation for “disapproval”. If a grant application is submitted by the sponsor of a fellowship application, both applications may be funded if there is no duplication of aims.

Peer Review Criteria

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. 
  1. Future Independence of Investigator: Is there demonstrated evidence that the award will promote independent status for the applicant by the end of the three- or four-year award? The award is not intended to provide enhanced funding for professional personnel working on the research program of an established scientist.
  2. 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?
  3. Approach: Are the conceptual framework, design, methods and analyses adequately developed, well integrated, well-reasoned and feasible (as determined by preliminary data) and appropriate to the aims of the project? The assessment of preliminary data should be put into perspective so that bold new ideas and risk-taking by the beginning investigators are encouraged rather than stymied. Does the applicant acknowledge potential problem areas and consider alternative tactics?
  4. Innovation: Is the project original and innovative? For example: Does the project challenge existing paradigms and address an innovative hypothesis or critical barrier to progress in the field? Does the project develop or employ novel concepts, approaches, methodologies, tools or technologies for this area?
  5. Investigator: Is the investigator appropriately trained and well suited to carry out this work? Is the work proposed appropriate to the experience level of the principal investigator and other researchers? Does the investigative team bring complementary and integrated expertise to the project (if applicable)?
  6. Environment: Does the scientific environment in which the work will be done contribute to the probability of success? Do the proposed studies benefit from unique features of the scientific environment, or subject populations, or employ useful collaborative arrangements? Is there evidence of institutional support as demonstrated in the department head letter?
  7. Impact: How does this project relate to and support the mission of the American Heart Association to building healthier lives, free of cardiovascular diseases and stroke?  

Interim Reporting
Assessment of annual progress reports to include research findings, abstracts, and publications.  Names of trainees supported (optional).

Publications, citations by others, ability to attract ongoing research funding, faculty advancement and/or other evidence of career progression, contribution of Association support to career advancement.

Need Help?

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Required Documents

When completing an application for funding, the Applicant(PI) is required to submit certain documents.  In addition, other individuals (referred to as Third Parties) associated with the application will provide supporting documents.  All required documents must be uploaded to Grants@Heart by the applicant before the application can be submitted to the Grants Officer.  The G.O. is responsible for sign-off and submitting the application to AHA.  Toggle between the tabs above to view a complete list.

Contact us for questions/inquiries about programs and login issues/assistance.

Mailing Address:
American Heart Association
Division of Research Administration
AHA National Center
7272 Greenville Avenue
Dallas, TX  75231-4596

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