Health Equity Research Network (HERN) on the Prevention of Hypertension

Funding Agency:
American Heart Association

The American Heart Association (AHA) announces a Request for Applications (RFA) for the Health Equity Research Network (HERN) on Prevention of Hypertension.

Hypertension is the most critical risk factor contributing to cardiovascular mortality and morbidity. Whereas therapeutic treatment can significantly reduce the risk of subsequent complications, identification of those with hypertension remains inadequate, and in those who do receive therapy adherence is insufficient. It is thus estimated that more than 80 million Americans have uncontrolled hypertension (National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey). Addressing uncontrolled hypertension and the resulting complications is a major long-term goal of AHA.

Many risk factors associated with development of hypertension are modifiable, offering the opportunity to prevent or delay the onset of hypertension. In addition, although treatment to lower levels of blood pressure to goal (<120/<80 mm Hg) in hypertensive individuals reduces cardiovascular disease risk, the reduction of risk is only partially restored to baseline level, and these individuals are still more likely to suffer a cardiovascular disease event than those who have not been hypertensive (J Am Heart Assoc 4:e002275, 2015). Thus, prevention of hypertension in the first place is of paramount importance to optimally reduce the burden of cardiovascular disease attributable to hypertension.

Hypertension is also a health equity issue; significant racial and ethnic disparities in both prevalence of hypertension and its management have been well documented (Prev Chron Dis 4:160478; 2017; Prev Med Reports 14:100850, 2019). Uncontrolled hypertension is particularly acute in communities of color (Am J Med Sci, 348:135, 2014; J Am Coll Cardiol, 71:109-118, 2018). As such, special attention will be targeted to mechanisms of prevention in populations who are underserved, who are known to be disproportionately impacted by hypertension, or both.

With this HERN, the AHA provides a mechanism to advance the science of prevention of hypertension with a focus on health equity. This is a key commitment that will be instrumental in achieving AHA’s 2024 Impact Goal: to advance cardiovascular health for all, including identifying and removing barriers to health care access and quality by 2024.

The Health Equity Research Network on Prevention of Hypertension will be a single network that will include multiple projects. An overall project plan will be developed by self-identified sites and submitted to AHA as a coordinated submission. Proposed projects will have a common fundamental theme that will assess an intervention or approach to prevention of hypertension in highrisk populations. All aspects of the network application (each Project and the Coordinating Center) will be reviewed as a collective program. The successful Network application will be one wherein each Project and the Coordinating Center are judged to be exemplary, and thus all components will be funded (i.e., either the entire network (with some possible budgetary adjustments) will be funded, or the entire network will not be funded).

Each network application will include a minimum of three and no more than five projects. Each project will be at a distinct institution and each will be led by a Project Principal Investigator (PI). Each project must have the necessary research team, required infrastructure and ability to recruit and retain a diverse group of study participants.


  • Required Letter of Intent Deadline (via email): April 23, 2021
  • Application Deadline: May 13, 2021, 3 p.m. Central Time

Agency Website

Eligibility Requirements

AHA awards are limited to U.S.-based non-profit institutions, including medical, osteopathic and dental schools, veterinary schools, schools of public health, pharmacy schools, nursing schools, universities and colleges, public and voluntary hospitals and others that can demonstrate the ability to conduct the proposed research. Applications will not be accepted for work with funding to be administered through any federal institution or work to be performed by a federal employee, except for Veterans Administrations employees.

Funding Type





Medical - Basic Science
Medical - Clinical Science
Medical - Translational
Social Sciences

External Deadline

April 23, 2021