New $3 million research initiative will focus on improving outcomes for children undergoing heart transplants

News Release, American Heart Association

American Heart Association and Enduring Hearts joining forces to fund pioneering research in pediatric heart transplantation

DALLAS, Nov. 13, 2019 – More than 500 children undergo heart transplants in the U.S. each year, joining the thousands of children living with a new heart, and while medical advancements have improved over the years, many of these children and their families still face a lifetime of challenges.

Working to improve treatment and outcomes for pediatric heart transplant recipients, the American Heart Association, the world’s leading voluntary health organization devoted to fighting cardiovascular disease, and Enduring Hearts, the only non-profit organization dedicated to funding research that helps kids with heart transplants live longer, healthier lives, are joining together to fund $3 million in new research grants.

The need for research in this area is especially important given the age of the patients, coupled with the fact that the average heart transplant lasts only 12 years. One in four transplants will fail within five years, largely due to organ rejection, and less than 5% of patients will have another transplant.

“The American Heart Association is committed to a world of longer, healthier lives and this research can make a significant impact for generations to come for our youngest, most vulnerable population,” said Joseph C. Wu, M.D., Ph.D., chair of the American Heart Association Research Committee, director of the Stanford Cardiovascular Institute and Simon H. Stertzer Professor of Medicine & Radiology at Stanford University School of Medicine. “This is an exciting opportunity to join with Enduring Hearts in support of this emerging research field and we look forward to the scientific discoveries to come.”

“Enduring Hearts exists to fundamentally improve the health and quality of life of pediatric heart transplant recipients worldwide by funding transformative and groundbreaking research,” said Ankur Chatterjee, Enduring Hearts Board President. “This new collaborative research grant is geared toward focusing the attention of the scientific community on new and innovative research in traditionally underfunded areas. Aggressively funding this type of research with the American Heart Association is vital so we can help ensure each child living with a new heart is able to live a longer, healthier life.”

The grants will be awarded to investigators actively conducting research directly related to improving the life expectancy and quality of life of pediatric heart transplant recipients. Areas of research focus may include:

  • evidence-based strategies for improving treatment adherence;
  • early and accurate identification of acute cellular and antibody-mediated rejection and other post-transplantation complications, including the development of accurate non-invasive methods and strategies for surveillance;
  • studies on the causes, prevention, and treatment of cardiac allograft vasculopathy which is caused when the blood vessels supplying the transplanted heart gradually narrow and restrict blood flow;
  • strategies to improve the viability of donor’s hearts, and the development of novel immunotherapies by the identification of novel targets, by improving the side-effect profiles of immunotherapies, and/or by improving methods for monitoring the level of immunosuppression;
  • the development of new technologies that would address any of these priority areas will also be considered.

The request for applications will be issued in January 2020, with final research grants being announced in November 2020.


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