INDIANAPOLIS, Aug. 29, 2023 — A professor at Purdue University is one of more than 100 scientists from across the U.S. who are receiving special grants to support their research work in finding innovative solutions to fight heart disease and stroke. The grants, totaling $20 million, are part of the Second Century of Science Initiative of the American Heart Association, the world’s leading voluntary organization dedicated to a world of longer, healthier lives. The financial awards are announced as the Association, the largest non-government supporter of heart and brain health research in the U.S., prepares to celebrate its 100th anniversary in 2024 and will be funded for a three-year period from July 1, 2023 through June 30, 2026.
Dr. Daniel Hirai, an assistant professor in the Department of Health and Kinesiology, has been awarded a $300,000 Second Century Early Faculty Independence Award to study home-based heat therapy as a way to improve functional performance in heart failure with preserved ejection fraction (HFpEF).
“This award from the American Heart Association will enable me to establish a network of collaborations and partnerships critical for the success of this study and future evaluation of treatments for HFpEF,” Hirai said. “The mentorship team will provide guidance and training towards my professional development and transition to independence.”
Hirai’s research aims to use clothing similar to what astronauts use to regulate body temperature while in space to improve the physical capacity of people with HFpEF, managing the condition with a non-surgical, relatively inexpensive in-home therapy.
“When the American Heart Association was founded in 1924, heart disease was considered a death sentence and we knew even less about stroke and other types of cardiovascular diseases. It has only been through the dedication and passion of the thousands of scientific explorers who have come before us that we have learned so much about how to diagnose, treat and even prevent most of these conditions,” said Joseph C. Wu, M.D., Ph.D., FAHA, American Heart Association volunteer president, who is the director of the Stanford Cardiovascular Institute and the Simon H. Stertzer, M.D., Professor of Medicine & Radiology at the Stanford University School of Medicine. “Yet too many lives are still lost as these continue to be the leading causes of death around the world. Even with all the knowledge we have there are gaps, particularly in ensuring health and the delivery of health care for people in diverse and underrepresented populations. That is why research projects like the Second Century of Science Initiative are so important for our future.”
A total of 111 separate grants have been awarded in three different categories:
- AHA’s Second Century Implementation Science Award – 19 early- and mid-career investigators will each receive a total of $400,000 to further their research into groundbreaking strategies that can be implemented into clinical and community settings to ultimately improve the health of individuals and populations. These research projects may address policies, programs or individual clinical practice, with unique strategies to address critical barriers to or gaps in ensuring the health and well-being of all people.
- AHA’s Second Century Early Faculty Independence Award – 33 investigators in the early years of their first professional medical/research academic appointment will each receive a total of $300,000 for research focused on critical, emerging priorities of the next century. Those areas may include technology-driven health care and diagnostics (i.e., artificial intelligence/machine learning approaches, telemedicine, biosensors and wearables); novel and emerging therapeutics (i.e., genome editing therapies, regenerative therapies and bioengineered foods); environmental impacts on health (i.e., direct and indirect effects); and research and solutions for issues affecting aging populations and the shrinking health care workforce. Awardees will also have opportunities to serve on scientific and research councils and committees of the American Heart Association and engage with the Association’s scientific leadership for mentorship connections.
- Clinical Fellow Research Education Program – Directors of 59 accredited cardiology and neurology fellowship programs will receive funding to support training and mentoring opportunities for clinical fellows enrolled in their programs. A fellow is a medical doctor or a doctoral-level health professional who has completed their degree and general residency program and is now training or conducting research in a health specialty. The funding will allow up to five fellows per year from each program to attend the American Heart Association Scientific Sessions or the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association International Stroke Conference, as well engage in as other medical specialty events and activities that will help them gain knowledge and expertise as research scientists.
“Research has been the foundation of the American Heart Association from the beginning, and we recognize that scientific research continues to be our most critical path forward to ensuring longer, healthier lives for all,” said Mariell Jessup, M.D., FAHA, chief science and medical officer of the Association. “As we embark on our next century of lifesaving work, we are excited to support bold, innovative investigators like those leading this new initiative, to meet the challenges of today and of the future.”
The American Heart Association has funded more than $5 billion in cardiovascular, cerebrovascular and brain health research since 1949, making it the single largest non-government supporter of heart and brain health research in the U.S. New knowledge resulting from this funding benefits millions of lives in every corner of the U.S. and around the world.
About the American Heart Association
The American Heart Association is a relentless force for a world of longer, healthier lives. We are dedicated to ensuring equitable health in all communities. Through collaboration with numerous organizations, and powered by millions of volunteers, we fund innovative research, advocate for the public’s health and share lifesaving resources. The Dallas-based organization has been a leading source of health information for nearly a century. Connect with us on heart.org, Facebook, Twitter or by calling 1-800-AHA-USA1.