American Heart Association approves $14 million in research grants to four universities

The grants will help form a national collaboration of scientists to focus on improving patient outcomes in heart disease and stroke cases


By EMS1 Staff 

DALLAS — The American Heart Association approved four scientific research grants valuing more than $14 million to four teams to develop a research network aimed at understanding the disease process, causes and risk factors of cardiac arrhythmias and sudden cardiac arrest.

Under the American Heart Association’s Strategically Focused Research Network grants initiative, teams at the University of Michigan, University of Washington, Northwestern University and Vanderbilt University Medical Center are set to receive approximately $3.7 million each with the goal to form a national collaboration of scientists that focuses on how to improve patient outcomes in those with heart disease and stroke.

Each research team is set to receive approximately $3.7 million with the goal to form a national collaboration of scientists that focuses on how to improve patient outcomes in those with heart disease and stroke. (Photo/American Heart Association)
Each research team is set to receive approximately $3.7 million with the goal to form a national collaboration of scientists that focuses on how to improve patient outcomes in those with heart disease and stroke. (Photo/American Heart Association)

 “The intent of this initiative is to support a collaboration of basic, clinical and population researchers from different disciplines whose collective efforts will lead to new approaches to study arrhythmias and sudden cardiac death,” said David Van Wagoner, Ph.D., an arrhythmia research scientist at the Cleveland Clinic, Ohio. “Over the next four years, we’ll have some of the most creative minds in cardiovascular research focused on solving the critical challenge of how to save more people from experiencing dangerous arrhythmias and dying of sudden cardiac arrest.”

Each team will focus on one part of the research process. The Northwestern Sudden Cardiac Death Collaboration at Northwestern University will dive into the genetic risks of SCA, develop a new tool to identify people that are most at risk and create educational materials for cardiologists and nurses.

The Michigan Resuscitation Innovation and Science Enterprise (M-RISE) team at the University of Michigan will try to improve survival rates for cardiac arrest patients through therapies such as medication that protects the brain and can be administered during CPR. Researchers hope that by studying the application of CPR, they can implement new recommendations to optimize time to CPR and defibrillation.

The Genomic and Precision Medicine Approaches to Evaluate Sex-Specific Sudden Cardiac Arrest Risk and Resuscitation Outcomes research team at the University of Washington will focus on gender in those that experience cardiac arrest with the goal to use genomics and precision medicine approaches to improve risk stratification in higher risk population. This will help scientists understand the underlying causes of cardiac arrest and improve resuscitation strategies.

Lastly, the Targeting Intracellular Calcium Leak for Ventricular Arrhythmia Prevention in Structural Heart Disease Research team at Vanderbilt University Medical Center will focus on basic science to help find treatments for ventricular arrhythmia.

“Our center brings together three academic institutions, Vanderbilt University, George Washington University and Lipscomb University, with the one mission of improving the lives of patients at risk for dying from arrhythmias,” said Bjorn Knollmann, M.D., Ph.D., director of the Vanderbilt Center for Arrhythmia Research and Therapeutics. “The support from AHA will help us develop and test new drug therapy for preventing sudden death in patients with heart disease. We are very much looking forward to working with the other centers and the AHA as part of this new research network.”

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