News Release

More than half million dollars in research grants awarded to understand No. 1 birth defect

The American Heart Association and The Children’s Heart Foundation announce a nearly $600,000 commitment to jointly fund new research into congenital heart defects

Grant and Award Announcement

American Heart Association

DALLAS, Feb. 6, 2024 — Five promising scientific researchers will advance their work to better understand and treat the most common birth defect in the U.S., congenital heart defects (CHDs), thanks to joint financial support from the American Heart Association and The Children’s Heart Foundation's Congenital Heart Defect Research Awards program.

To date, the American Heart Association, celebrating 100 years of lifesaving service and devoted to a world of healthier lives for all, and The Children’s Heart Foundation, dedicated to funding congenital heart defect research, have pledged more than $10 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] Scientific research that helps healthcare professionals understand, identify, and treat CHDs is helping these babies live longer, healthier lives.

Receiving the very latest in new grant funding, combining for nearly $600,000 are:

  • Jonathon Muncie, Ph.D. at the J. David Gladstone Institutes in San Francisco for Deciphering the Role of Mef2c in Allocating Second Heart Field Progenitors to the Linear Heart Tube
  • SunYoung Kim for the Board of Regents of the University of Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha for Alcohol and Notch Pathway Mutations Synergistically Induce Atrioventricular Canal Defects: Potential Rescue by Folate
  • Siting Zhu, Ph.D. at the Regents of the University of California, San Diego in La Jolla for investigating NEDD4 in right ventricular development
  • Yixuan Liu, M.S. at The Ohio State University in Columbus for investigating a neural network pipeline for rapid acquisition and reconstruction of MRI data for catheterization procedures
  • Shatha Salameh, M.S. at Children's National Medical Center and Children's Research Institute in Washington, D.C. for investigating age-dependent differences in cardiac drug response

“Babies born with CHD are now living well into adulthood and having babies of their own,” said Joseph Wu, M.D., PhD, FAHA, volunteer president of the American Heart Association, director of the Stanford Cardiovascular Institute and professor of medicine and radiology at Stanford University. “With this progress comes an opportunity for us to recommit our resources to investigating congenital heart disease as it affects adult patients. It’s been 100 years since the American Heart Association was founded, and obviously research has come a long way. It’s up to these researchers—and our volunteers across the country—to help guide where our second century takes us.”

“Our collaboration with the American Heart Association to fund life-saving research gets us that much closer to a world where every child has the chance to grow into a healthy adult,” said Gail Roddie-Hamlin, president and CEO of The Children’s Heart Foundation. “As we announce these grants going into Congenital Heart Defect Awareness Week, we’re doubling down on our commitment to families by funding the most promising research and raising much needed awareness.”

Researchers studying the prevention and treatment of CHDs are encouraged to submit applications for funding from the American Heart Association and 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 a century. During 2024 - our Centennial year - we celebrate our rich 100-year history and accomplishments. As we forge ahead into our second century of bold discovery and impact, our vision is to advance health and hope for everyone, everywhere. Connect with us on heart.orgFacebookX 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 nearly $18 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.

[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, Nav aneethan 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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