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Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine

Northwestern Top Recipient of Research Funding from the American Heart Association

From left to right: Mary McDermott, MD, the Jeremiah Stamler Professor of Medicine; Bradley Marino, MD, professor of Pediatrics; Mercedes Carnethon, PhD, the Mary Harris Thompson Professor Preventive Medicine; Philip Greenland, MD, the Harry W. Dingman Professor of Cardiology; Dean Harrison, president and chief executive officer of Northwestern Memorial HealthCare; Eric Neilson, MD, vice president for Medical Affairs and Lewis Landsberg Dean; and events speakers Dr. Sanchez, Dr. Yancy, and Mr. Shields, with a ceremonial check for nearly $17 million to Northwestern University from the American Heart Association.

On May 7, the Northwestern Medicine community welcomed leadership from the American Heart Association (AHA) for an annual reception honoring their longtime partnership.  

This year, attendees had more to celebrate than ever before: Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine is now the top recipient of research funding from the AHA, receiving nearly $17 million for active awards—more than any other institution in the United States.*

Postdoctoral fellow Victor Zhong, PhD, presents recent research that found adults who ate more eggs and dietary cholesterol had a significantly higher risk of cardiovascular disease and death. The research made headlines after it was published in the journal JAMA this spring. 

This funding includes competitive grant awards for five AHA Strategically Focused Research Network centers, each part of a national consortium focused on a single urgent cardiovascular health issue. Northwestern’s centers focus on prevention, disparities in cardiovascular disease and stroke, atrial fibrillation, children’s health, and vascular disease.

“We are No. 1. It’s a privileged place to be; we’ve earned it; and we intend to deliver on the promises made,” said Clyde W. Yancy, MD, MSc, the Magerstadt Professor of Medicine, chief of Cardiology, and vice dean for Diversity and Inclusion at Feinberg, and associate director of the Northwestern Medicine Bluhm Cardiovascular Institute.

Dr. Yancy emphasized the Strategically Focused Research Network centers as especially notable. “These grants are multidisciplinary, with basic science, clinical science, and population science all incorporated. They also are interconnected with other institutions so that we can share ideas. Importantly, a major aspect of these grant awards is training the next generation of cardiovascular investigators. These are exciting opportunities.”

The AHA, founded in Chicago 95 years ago, is the nation’s largest voluntary organization dedicated to fighting heart disease and stroke—the two leading causes of death worldwide. To date, the AHA has funded more research on these diseases than any other U.S. nonprofit.

“We have always been an organization that is focused on removing barriers to health for all people,” said Brian Shields, executive director of the AHA. He noted that seven miles south of Northwestern’s downtown campus, life expectancy can drop as much as 25 years. “Here in Chicago, we are facing the biggest challenges head on with all of you at Northwestern.”

The relationship between Northwestern and the AHA extends far beyond research funding and the published findings that follow: Dr. Yancy and Robert Bonow, MD, the Max and Lilly Goldberg Distinguished Professor of Cardiology, are both past-presidents of the AHA and three other faculty members have received the organization’s prestigious Physician of the Year award. Northwestern faculty also have partnered with the AHA to write cardiovascular care guidelines that apply research discoveries to clinical practice nationwide.

“We have an amazing partnership that is reflected in Northwestern’s volunteer participation and a willingness to take leadership positions inside the AHA,” said Eduardo Sanchez, MD, MPH, chief medical officer for Prevention and chief of the AHA’s Center for Health Metrics and Evaluation. “Our partnership has produced world-class, game-changing research and is helping young investigators and established investigators make a difference every day.”

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*through August 2018