The American Heart Association (AHA) and Google Life Sciences (GLS) have announced a joint commitment to form a research collaboration that will bring new, unconventional thinking to one of the longstanding challenges of cardiovascular disease. Each organization will invest $25 million for a total of $50 million over roughly five years to support novel strategies to understand, prevent and reverse coronary heart disease and its consequences, such as heart failure and sudden cardiac death.
Cardiovascular diseases are the leading cause of death globally, accounting annually for about 17 million deaths, or about one of every three deaths. Coronary heart disease itself is responsible for more than 7 million deaths annually. But the root causes of the disease continue to be explored and a concerted effort, combining technology and medicine, could help. Because traditional research funding models, which often are incremental and piecemeal, make it difficult to study a multifaceted subject that plays out over many years, AHA and GLS have committed to a bold new approach: a $50 million investment in one research team, which will be tasked with developing a richer, deeper understanding of cardiovascular disease.
That amount marks the largest one-time research investment in AHA’s history. In early 2016, a joint leadership group made up of individuals from AHA and GLS will select a team leader to run the effort. The team leader, who may be a cardiologist but could come from any background or area of expertise, will receive the full $50 million in funding over roughly five years to design a program, assemble a cross-functional group of investigators, and lead all efforts toward further finding new causes and drivers of coronary heart disease. The team will have support across many important areas, including clinical research, engineering, and data analysis, as well as ongoing strategic counsel, oversight and access to resources from the Joint Leadership Group.