Science and Research

female medical researcher looking at brain scans on monitor

The AHA is funding much-needed research into the science of health inequities and structural racism — and rethinking research systems with a focus on equity. For example, we’ve developed an entire research network dedicated to studying high blood pressure prevention in underrepresented populations.

Through the 10 Commitments, the AHA is investing $100 million in new research programs and grants focused on science-based solutions to health inequities and structural racism. The AHA will expand diversity-research opportunities for underrepresented racial and ethnic groups in science and medicine through grant funding; science, technology, engineering and mathematics programs; the Historically Black Colleges and Universities program; and EmPOWERED to Serve Scholars programs.

Here are some additional highlights in the world of science and research. They focus on health equity in a variety of ways — from innovative research approaches to our scientific meetings to our scientific guidelines to our journal publications:

  • The AHA and the Association of Black Cardiologists presented a data challenge to encourage cross collaboration in advancing health equity. Teams competed for cash prizes by testing the relationships between heart failure and health disparities, as well as social and structural determinants of health.
  • Two leading investigators are recipients of the first rounds of grant funding from an initiative focused on women’s health developed by the AHA’s Institute for Precision Cardiovascular Medicine. One study aims to increase awareness of cardiovascular diseases among millennial women in underrepresented racial and ethnic groups. The other study focuses on the health impact of weight during menopause. 
  • The AHA and Microsoft co-founder and philanthropist Bill Gates are co-investing $3.3 million in heart- and brain-focused health technology research, with $2.8 million funding a fifth center within the Health Technologies & Innovation Strategically Focused Research Network.
  • The AHA funded $2.4 million to fast-track research on COVID-19, including grants to one coordinating center and 15 teams conducting rapid research on how the virus interacts with the heart and brain.
  • With nearly $17 million in funding from the AHA, scientists from Boston University, The Ohio State University and Yale University will lead the End Nicotine Addiction in Children and Teens (ENACT) research initiative. Over the next two years, researchers will work to identify and reverse the impacts of vaping on multiple organ systems, behavior and specific social influencers of health.
  • The 2020 class of EmPOWERED to Serve Scholars comprises 10 enterprising college students working to address health disparities in their communities through advocacy, education and outreach. Each received $10,000 to bring their visionary ideas to life.
  • We held our first-ever all-virtual Scientific Sessions meeting in November. The American Stroke Association’s International Stroke Conference was also held virtually, in March, featuring more than 1,300 presentations in 17 categories that emphasize basic, clinical and translational sciences.
  • The AHA published its first scientific statement(link opens in new window) on cardiovascular health in LGBTQ adults in the AHA’s flagship scientific journal Circulation. Life’s Simple 7 — seven risk factors people can improve through lifestyle changes — informed the collection of the data.
  • Circulation editors published an inaugural special issue focused on disparities in cardiovascular medicine, taking the first steps to lay out a road map to better, more equitable delivery of cardiovascular care for all.