Strategically Focused Research Networks: Arrhythmias and Sudden Cardiac Death

Funding Agency:
American Heart Association

A leading priority of the AHA is to fund research that increases an understanding of the etiology, pathophysiology, treatment and prevention of cardiovascular diseases and stroke.

The AHA has a tradition of support for research spanning more than 65 years. Research is the foundation of all other aspects of the AHA’s lifesaving work, generating a tremendous impact on people’s lives. After the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the AHA is the leading funder of cardiovascular disease (CVD) and stroke research in the U.S. with over $4 billion invested in research since 1949. The AHA has adopted a goal to improve the cardiovascular health of all Americans by 20% while reducing deaths from cardiovascular diseases and stroke by 20% by the year 2020.

A Strategically Focused Research Network (SFRN) is a mechanism that provides AHA an opportunity to address key strategic issues as determined by the AHA Board of Directors. Specific SFRNs focus on the understanding, prevention, diagnosis and treatment of a particular research topic of interest. Three to five (3-5) Research Centers will make up the Network (diagrammed in Figure 1 for illustrative purposes) and will be supported for a period of four (4) years. These Centers will constitute the Network and will be awarded a total of $12-20 million over that period (including costs for Network oversight and administration). The desired characteristics of these Centers, the general requirements of the application, and the peer review criteria are described in this document.

Centers seek to have basic, clinical and/or population/behavioral health teams join together and submit proposals which address the designated topic via their individual areas of expertise. A Center may be sited at one or at multiple U.S. institutions under the leadership of one. Each Center applies for funding individually and is peer reviewed by the AHA. The most meritorious Center applications and their research projects will be combined by the AHA to form an AHA Strategically Focused Research Network.

One of the key objectives of this initiative is to encourage interaction among the Strategically Focused Research Network Centers, both in training and research efforts. An important component of the initiative is a multi-disciplinary approach both within and among Centers that comprise the Network. The structure of the Network will include sufficient components to maximize the interaction and collaboration among the named Strategically Focused Research Centers. The AHA Oversight Advisory Committee will monitor and encourage interactive and collaborative activities, and develop and implement a plan for regular dialogue among the Center participants. The entire network will operate as a team.

Once awarded, there is an expectation that the three to five (3-5) Centers will interact with each other to provide networking opportunities for trainees, to encourage sharing of commonly-useful knowledge and methods, to educate each other on unique knowledge and methods and to provide a stimulating atmosphere for research collaborations. Strategies for communication and interaction among the Centers should be addressed in the proposal and could include ways to encourage interaction, augment or expand study findings, share training opportunities for fellows and junior investigators, etc.

An institution may submit only one AHA strategically focused research network application for any SFRN competition. 


  • Duke Internal: November 6, 2018
  • Letter of Intent Deadline: December 4, 2018
  • Application Deadline: February 7, 2019

If the internal deadline has passed and you are interested in this opportunity, please email Anastasia Maddox at to find out if it is still open.

Agency Website

Eligibility Requirements

AHA SFRN 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. 
Broad collaborations for expertise are highly encouraged. A Center’s application can consist of three (3) proposals from their one (1) institution; or they can reach out and bring in other projects from other institutions. For example: the basic project could come from laboratory X in Delaware; the clinical project from hospital Y in Texas and the population/ translational project from University Z in California.

The Centers are not transferable to other institutions. An institution may submit only one AHA strategically focused research network application for any SFRN competition. Individuals at the applicant institution who are not participating in their institution’s center application (and/or its three project applications) may participate in another separate institution’s center application. Individuals participating in their institution’s center application, other than the Center Director may participate in a separate institution’s center application. The application may include individuals and/or projects at more than one institution provided there is evidence for a successful close personal and geographical interaction among research and training personnel.

Amount Description

The AHA is committed to an investment of $12-20 million to establish each Network, which will provide almost $4 million per Center.

Funding Type





Curriculum Development
Medical - Basic Science
Medical - Clinical Science
Social Sciences

Internal Nomination

Owing to the sponsor's restriction on the number of applications that may be submitted from Duke, anyone wishing to pursue nomination should submit the following materials as one PDF.

* A letter of support from dean or chair - 1 to 1.5 pages
* Brief overview of the 3 proposed projects – please label project “Basic” “Clinical” or “Population.” Include a maximum 1 - 2 paragraph project summary on each project along with the proposed project title.

* CV or Biosketch of project leader

Please submit internal materials through My Research Proposal. (Code ILN)

Instructions for setting up your account and uploading internal applications can be found here:

Internal Deadline

November 6, 2018

External Deadline

February 7, 2019