CHICAGO — The American Heart Association unveiled a new mission statement and new grant and mentoring programs at the Presidential Session of its Scientific Sessions.
The new mission statement is “to be a relentless force for a world of longer, healthier lives.” In his presidential address, AHA president Ivor J. Benjamin, MD, FACC, FAHA, director of the cardiovascular center at the Medical College of Wisconsin, said the association “has enlarged our focus on prevention and well-being, particularly as it relates to overall brain health, including cognitive health.”
The AHA has launched a number of initiatives to foster research and mentorship, including one designed to encourage minority undergraduates to complete a STEM degree.
“We hope this program will help reverse troubling trends [of minority undergraduates interested in STEM fields failing to achieve a degree], producing new investigators and new clinicians to join the legacy of pioneers [in health care],” he said.
The AHA has also created the Institutional Research Enhancement Award “to help provide appropriate opportunities” for young investigators who are having difficulty obtaining funding for their research. For those who are not getting adequate support from their institutions, “the AHA is helping expand their network of mentors and will connect them to appropriate other mentors at different institutions,” Benjamin said.
“The next generation of investigators will only choose this path if they believe there will be sufficient funding to sustain a life in biological science,” he said.
He also noted that “the AHA has a long history of working intensely with other stakeholders to advocate for increases in the NIH budget. The latest $2 billion increase in the NIH budget is a byproduct of our vigorous ongoing efforts.”
The AHA recently expanded its investment in research by 5%, he said. “As we work to fund the most important and best research, the AHA is constantly refining and reviewing what science we should support.”
Those deliberations have produced a collaboration with the Paul G. Allen Frontiers Group, in which the two organizations and other donors will provide $43 million for three research groups for whom “our hope is that their innovative research will accelerate our impact on brain health, preventing, or at least reversing and reducing, age-related cognitive impairment,” Benjamin said. – by Erik Swain
Benjamin IJ. Presidential Session. Presented at: American Heart Association Scientific Sessions; Nov. 10-12, 2018; Chicago.
Disclosure: Benjamin reports no relevant financial disclosures.