Grants awarded to better understand the No. 1 birth defect

DALLAS, Feb. 8, 2023 – Six promising researchers will advance their work to better understand and treat the most common birth defect in the U.S., congenital heart defects (CHDs), with support from the American Heart Association and The Children’s Heart Foundation’s Congenital Heart Defect Research Awards program.

The American Heart Association, which is devoted to world of healthier lives for all, and The Children’s Heart Foundation, dedicated to funding congenital heart defect research, have pledged nearly $15 million across 10 years of the CHD research funding collaboration.

Nearly 40,000 infants are born with a CHD each year in the United States. Approximately 1 in 4 babies born with a CHD require invasive surgery or treatment in their first year of life.[1] While medical advancements have improved over the years, many of these children and their families still face a lifetime of challenges.[2] Research that helps healthcare professionals understand, identify, and treat CHDs is helping these babies live longer, healthier lives.

Receiving the new grants combining for more than $650,000 are:

  • Shweta Karnik, M.S. at Georgia Tech Research Corporation for the development of a novel pediatric LVAD leveraging engineering and material science to improve physiologic interface
  • Dulguun Amgalan, Ph.D. at The Board of Trustees of the Leland Stanford Junior University, for regulatory maps of endothelial cell differentiation to connect congenital heart disease risk variants to function
  • Junichi Saito, M.D., Ph.D. at Yale University for investigating the role of sphingosine kinase 1 in supravalvular aortic stenosis
  • Clifford Liu, M.S. at Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai for investigating mechanisms of cardiac valve disease in Noonan Syndrome
  • Nirmal Vadgama, Ph.D. at The Board of Trustees of the Leland Stanford Junior University for defining the neural crest’s role in CHD and associated comorbidities using single-cell epigenomics and deep learning
  • Kathryn Henshaw, B.S. at Boston Children’s Hospital for simulation of native valve extracellular microenvironment to enhance in vitro cellularization of valvular scaffolds

“Understanding how CHDs form and maintaining heart health in children are critical to ensuring every child has the chance to grow into a healthy adult,” said Michelle Albert, M.D., MPH, FACC, FAHA, president of the American Heart Association, professor of medicine at the University of California at San Francisco (UCSF) and Admissions Dean for UCSF Medical School. “This program and our decade-long relationship with The Children’s Heart Foundation is a great complement to the extensive work the American Heart Association, our councils and millions of volunteers do year-round, year after year to champion pediatric cardiovascular health.”

“We’re thrilled to be marking 10 years of partnership with the American Heart Association,” said Gail Roddie-Hamlin, President and CEO of The Children’s Heart Foundation. “The research we’re funding together is truly moving the needle and helping babies and children with CHDs live longer, healthier lives. I’m very proud of the work we’ve accomplished together.”
Researchers studying the prevention and treatment of CHDs are encouraged to submit applications for funding from the American Heart Association, The Children’s Heart Foundation. For submission guidelines and upcoming deadlines specific to the Congenital Heart Defects Research Awards, visit professional.heart.org/CHDResearchAwards.

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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.orgFacebookTwitter or by calling 1-800-AHA-USA1.  
About The Children’s Heart Foundation

The Children’s Heart Foundation (CHF) is the country’s leading organization solely committed to funding congenital heart defect (CHD) research. The Children’s Heart Foundation’s mission is to advance the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of congenital heart defects by funding the most promising research. To date, CHF has funded $15 million of CHD research and scientific collaborations. For more information or to join our cause, visit www.childrensheartfoundation.org. Follow us on FacebookInstagramTwitter, and LinkedIn.

For Media Inquiries:

American Heart Association: Libby Ridenhour, Libby.Ridenhour@Heart.org

For Public Inquiries: 1-800-AHA-USA1 (242-8721) - heart.org and stroke.org

The Children’s Heart Foundation: Lauren DeVoe, ldevoe@childrensheartfoundation.org 

For Public Inquiries: (847) 634-6474 - Childrensheartfoundation.org 


[1] Virani SS, Alonso A, Aparicio HJ, Benjamin EJ, Bittencourt MS, Callaway CW, Carson AP, Chamberlain AM, Cheng S, Delling FN, Elkind MSV, Evenson KR, Ferguson JF, Gupta DK, Khan SS, Kissela BM, Knutson KL, Lee CD, Lewis TT, Liu J, Loop MS, Lutsey PL, Ma J, Mackey J, Martin SS, Matchar DB, Mussolino ME, Navaneethan SD, Perak AM, Roth GA, Samad Z, Satou GM, Schroeder EB, Shah SH, Shay CM, Stokes A, VanWagner LB, Wang N-Y, Tsao CW; on behalf of the American Heart Association Council on Epidemiology and Prevention Statistics Committee and Stroke Statistics Subcommittee. Heart disease and stroke statistics—2021 update: a report from the American Heart Association [published online ahead of print January 27, 2021]. Circulation. doi: 10.1161/CIR.0000000000000950

[2] https://www.ahajournals.org/doi/epdf/10.1161/CIR.0000000000001123

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