The American Heart Association has issued a Request for Applications for the Health Equity Research Network (HERN) on Prevention of Hypertension.
According to the association, hypertension is the biggest risk factor contributing to cardiovascular mortality and morbidity, and while 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, insufficient.
Many risk factors associated with the development of hypertension are modifiable, offering the opportunity to prevent or delay the onset of hypertension. And while treatment resulting in lower blood pressure 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. Hypertension is also a health equity issue: significant racial and ethnic disparities in both the prevalence of hypertension and its management have been well documented, and uncontrolled hypertension is particularly acute in communities of color.
To address these issues, the AHA seeks to provide a mechanism to advance the science of prevention of hypertension, with a focus on health equity. The Health Equity Research Network on Prevention of Hypertension is envisioned as a single network that encompasses multiple projects. An overall project plan will be developed by self-identified sites and submitted to the AHA as a coordinated submission. Proposed projects should have a common fundamental theme and should assess an intervention or approach to the prevention of hypertension in high-risk populations. Each project should be at a distinct institution and be led by a project principal investigator (PI). Each project also must have the needed research team, necessary infrastructure, and capacity to recruit and retain a diverse group of study participants.
At the agreement of the project PIs during development of the application, one project investigator will be designated the HERN Coordinating Center PI. All aspects of the application (each project and coordinating center) will be reviewed as a collective program, and each application should include a minimum of three and no more than five projects.
The maximum budget amount that may be awarded to the network is $20 million, inclusive of funds to support coordinating center responsibilities and indirect costs of 10 percent maximum for all Projects and the Coordinating Center.
The AHA encourages applicant teams to submit innovative projects that can prevent hypertension in a short timeframe. With the exception that studies must be conducted using human participants and must include interventions (as opposed to pure epidemiologic characterization), the AHA is not advocating for a particular study topic or design. Examples of general themes include implementation and evaluation of pharmacotherapy to prevent the development of hypertension in African American and/or other populations for which significant health inequities exist; implementation and evaluation of behavioral interventions (e.g., activity, diet and nutrition, stress reduction, etc.) in combination with accessible digital technologies in preventing hypertension in rural populations; the role of biomarkers in identifying individuals from underserved communities who are at the highest risk for developing hypertension; and implementation and evaluation of interventions that target health education or connectivity gaps (i.e., limited broadband internet access) on the prevention of hypertension for which significant health inequities exist.
Examples of potential institutional partners include institutions of higher learning focused on the education of Black/Hispanic/American Indian/non-White students (e.g., historically Black colleges/universities or predominantly Black institutions; Hispanic-serving institutions; tribal colleges or universities or Native American-serving, non-tribal institutions; Alaskan Native- or Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander-serving Institutions; or other majority-non-white institution of higher learning); and nonprofit community hospitals or other research/care institution serving a majority non-white population or located in a non-urban, non-suburban setting OR serving an underrepresented population not listed above (e.g., a federally qualified health center).
Awards will be limited to U.S.-based nonprofit 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 other organizations that can demonstrate the ability to conduct the proposed research. Project PIs and coordinating center PIs must hold a doctoral-level degree and have a faculty-rank position at any level.
See the American Heart Association website for complete program guidelines and application instructions.