The American Heart Association and the Children’s Heart Foundation continue to invest in congenital heart defect research with $1.3 million in new grants

Research to better understand and treat the number one birth defect in the United States, congenital heart defects (CHDs), is getting a boost thanks to a joint $1.3 million commitment from the American Heart Association, the world’s leading nonprofit organization focused on heart and brain health for all, and The Children’s Heart Foundation, the nation’s leading organization dedicated to funding congenital heart defect research.

This is the seventh round of their co-funded Congenital Heart Defect Research Awards program,  and is distributed among eight research projects nationwide. The American Heart Association and The Children’s Heart Foundation have pledged a total of $14.3 million to fund CHD research over the next several years.

The grants have been awarded to:

  • Colleen Witzenburg, PhD, MS at the University of Wisconsin, Madison for her work in predicting long-term heart and pulmonary artery growth in congenital heart disease
  • Jason Boehme, MD, BS at the University of California, San Francisco for his work in metabolic reprogramming in pulmonary vascular disease
  • Parth Mukund Patel, MD, BS, BA at Massachusetts General Hospital for his work on achieving tolerance in NHP heart transplant recipients with donor exosomes
  • Audrey Dionne, MD at Boston Children’s Hospital for her work predicting arrhythmogenic risk in post-operative congenital heart disease patients
  • Margaret Rose Ferrari BS, MS at the University of Colorado, Denver for her work with tissue engineered contractile Fontan circuit for single ventricle patients
  • Devin Marisa Parker, MS at Dartmouth College for her work on healthcare utilization and the quantifying the burden of care as it relates to the first U.S. population-based estimates of congenital heart disease
  • Hee Cheol Cho, PhD at Emory University for his work on hardware-free cardiac pacing for congenital heart block patients
  • David Kalfa, MD, PHD at Columbia University for his work on in-vitro and in-vivo mechanical stability and growth of a bio-hybrid heart valve

“By funding research into what causes congenital heart defects and how to better treat people living with them, we are laying the groundwork for more children to survive into healthy adulthoods,” said Dianne Atkins, MD, American Heart Association volunteer medical expert and Professor of Pediatrics, Emerita, Stead Family Department of Pediatrics, Carver College of Medicine, University of Iowa. “Research is in the American Heart Association’s DNA. Supporting innovative research to help save and improve the lives of children is of utmost importance to us.”

Nearly 40,000 infants are born with congenital heart defects each year in the United States. About 25 percent of babies born with a CHD require invasive treatment in their first year of life. Research that helps understand, identify, and treat CHDs is helping these children live longer, healthier lives. While medical advancements have improved over the years, many of these children and their families still face a lifetime of challenges. Today, it is estimated that more than 800,000 American adults are living with a CHD.[1]

“Through this collaboration and our ongoing commitment to advancing the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of congenital heart defects, we strive to make a lasting impact on the lives of CHD patients and their families,” said Barbara Newhouse, CEO of The Children’s Heart Foundation. “This new research will help bring innovative solutions to improve survival rates and care for all individuals living with CHDs.”

Scientists who are conducting research on congenital heart defects to advance knowledge for prevention and treatment are encouraged to submit applications for the next round of funding. For more about the American Heart Association and The Children’s Heart Foundation Congenital Heart Defects Research Awards, including deadlines for submitting proposals, please visit

Additional Resources:

  • To learn more about congenital heart defects, visit
  • For support for parents of young children diagnosed with CHDs or adults living with the impact of a CHD, visit



About the American Heart Association

The American Heart Association is a relentless force for a world of longer, healthier lives. We are dedicated to ensuring equitable health in all communities. Through collaboration with numerous organizations, and powered by millions of volunteers, we fund innovative research, advocate for the public’s health and share lifesaving resources. The Dallas-based organization has been a leading source of health information for nearly a century. Connect with us on, Facebook, Twitter or by calling 1-800-AHA-USA1.

About The Children’s Heart Foundation

The Children’s Heart Foundation is the country’s leading organization solely committed to funding congenital heart defect (CHD) research. The Children’s Heart Foundation’s mission is to fund the most promising research to advance the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of congenital heart defects. To date, The Children’s Heart Foundation has funded more than $13 million dollars of CHD research and scientific collaborations. For more information or to join our cause, visit Follow us on FacebookInstagram, and Twitter.

For Media Inquiries:

American Heart Association:

Linzy Cotaya,; (504) 872-3446

For Public Inquiries: 1-800-AHA-USA1 (242-8721) and

The Children’s Heart Foundation:

Lauren DeVoe,; (224) 458-4505

For Public Inquiries: (847) 634-6474


[1] American Heart Association, Statistical Update, chapter 14. Available for download at

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