DALLAS, Oct. 13, 2020 — Two leading women investigators are recipients of the first rounds of grant funding from Research Goes Red, an initiative by the American Heart Association's Institute for Precision Cardiovascular Medicine to engage more women in research.

Bertha Hidalgo, Ph.D., associate professor, department of epidemiology, University of Alabama at Birmingham, will use her grant to support her two-year project, “Preventing CVD and Stroke Among Millennial Women: A Dissemination Science and Social Media Approach.”

The second research grant will leverage the expertise of the American Heart Association’s Go Red for Women Strategically Focused Research Network (SFRN). Launched through generous funding by longtime donor Sarah Soter with supporting funds from the American Heart Association in 2016, the Go Red for Women SFRN is a collaborative mechanism that includes Columbia University Medical Center, Johns Hopkins Medicine, Magee-Women’s Research Institute and UC San Diego School of Medicine to address critical issues in women’s health. Brooke Aggarwal, EdD, a funded investigator within the Go Red for Women SFRN, and an assistant professor of medical sciences at Columbia University Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons, will lead a study focused on women’s health at the intersection of menopause, weight gain and health habits.

The American Heart Association, the world’s leading voluntary health organization dedicated to building longer, healthier lives, established the Institute for Precision Cardiovascular Medicine, which has funded more than 90 research grants totaling more than $30.2 million since 2014. These new research grants support the recruitment and retention of women in the Association’s and Verily’s health research platform, Project Baseline, with the aim to improve women’s representation in clinical trials.  The technology platform offers e-consent tools, surveys, engagement tools and community dashboards to streamline research contributions and improve how trials are conducted.

Dr. Hidalgo’s project will implement an awareness campaign built around evidence-based American Heart Association educational materials for cardiovascular disease and stroke targeted specifically to networks of underserved and vulnerable millennial women via social media. The study estimates that materials will reach more than four million women by using social media influencers to curate and share personalized educational content, increasing awareness in women to take action toward preventing cardiovascular disease and stroke and enroll in Research Goes Red. The research findings from this project will help establish models for engaging these audiences in order to provide a more representative participant group within the next generation of research, with a goal of ultimately leading to even greater awareness and improved prevention of cardiovascular disease and cerebrovascular disease in these higher risk populations.

The Go Red For Women Strategically Focused Research Network will launch a two-year research study to examine which specific physical traits are linked to weight gain over time for women who are transitioning through menopause compared to women who are not. The study will first measure physical traits such as waist size, body fat level, inflammatory markers and hormonal regulators of appetite of women who are at different stages of life. Factors such as meal habits, reproductive history, physical activity, stress, heart rate and sleep patterns will be included in the second phase of the study. Findings will help determine the ways that weight change contributes to overall cardiovascular health for women and could lead to future guidelines on maintaining a healthy weight during a key time in women’s lives to help reduce the risk of heart disease. 

“Women continue to be underrepresented in health research in general and even more so from younger, diverse populations, including those most at risk.” said Jennifer Hall, Ph.D., chief of data science at the American Heart Association. “Increasing the number of women in studies will deliver insights that benefit them and improve their health.”

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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.org, Facebook, Twitter or by calling 1-800-AHA-USA1.

About the American Heart Association Institute for Precision Cardiovascular Medicine
The American Heart Association Institute for Precision Cardiovascular Medicine aims to advance the science and practice of personalized medicine to improve the cardiovascular health of individuals and populations. The Institute is working to create products and services that integrate research with more precise approaches to reverse and prevent cardiovascular disease and stroke. To further advance our mission and the Institute's goals, we offer funding opportunities to scientists of all fields. To learn more or to get involved, visit http://institute.heart.org.


For Media Inquiries:

Pamela Kreigh – 214-706-1434; Pamela.Kreigh@heart.org

Public Inquiries: 1-800-AHA-USA1 (242-8721)

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