American Heart Association's Children's Strategically Focused Research Network Experience

J Am Heart Assoc. 2023 Apr 4;12(7):e028356. doi: 10.1161/JAHA.122.028356. Epub 2023 Mar 28.


The American Heart Association's Strategically Focused Children's Research Network started in July 2017 with 4 unique programs at Children's National Hospital in Washington, DC; Duke University in Durham, North Carolina; University of Utah in Salt Lake City, Utah; and Lurie Children's Hospital/Northwestern University in Chicago, Illinois. The overarching goal of the Children's National center was to develop evidence-based strategies to strengthen the health system response to rheumatic heart disease through synergistic basic, clinical, and population science research. The overall goals of the Duke center were to determine risk factors for obesity and response to treatment including those that might work on a larger scale in communities across the country. The integrating theme of the Utah center focused on leveraging big data-science approaches to improve the quality of care and outcomes for children with congenital heart defects, within the context of the patient and their family. The overarching hypothesis of the Northwestern center is that the early course of change in cardiovascular health, from birth onward, reflects factors that result in either subsequent development of cardiovascular risk or preservation of lifetime favorable cardiovascular health. All 4 centers exceeded the original goals of research productivity, fellow training, and collaboration. This article describes details of these accomplishments and highlights challenges, especially around the COVID-19 pandemic.

Keywords: childhood and adolescent obesity; congenital heart disease; rheumatic heart disease; trajectories of cardiovascular health.

Publication types

  • News
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • American Heart Association
  • COVID-19*
  • Child
  • Heart Defects, Congenital*
  • Humans
  • Pandemics
  • United States / epidemiology
  • Utah