The American Heart Association (AHA) has announced a new collaboration with Amazon Web Services, Inc. to enable and advance discoveries in cardiovascular science and medicine using cloud technology. The collaboration with AWS marks a major new initiative for the AHA’s Institute for Precision Cardiovascular Medicine. The Institute aims to advance the science and practice of precision medicine to improve cardiovascular health in both individuals and populations by fostering research that takes into account the systems biology arising from a person’s genes, environment and lifestyle.
Driven by advanced methods of aggregating, integrating and analyzing patient data, precision cardiovascular medicine has the potential to improve, preserve and prolong health, as well as ultimately reduce overall healthcare costs. It represents a clear improvement from the current approach, which—despite major advances—still focuses largely on managing symptoms and serious events when they occur.
“The promise of precision cardiovascular medicine and care can be realized when research and technology come together to deliver new insights,” said AHA CEO Nancy Brown. “The AHA and AWS collaboration will unite the global research community to accelerate discovery in cardiovascular health and usher in a new era of tailored prevention and treatment that will help patients and lessen the global burden of cardiovascular disease.”
The AHA—with its commitment to patients, basic, clinical and population science, and to evidence-based clinical practice—has allocated $30 million over five years to launch The Institute and is spearheading a fundraising campaign designed to generate $100–$200 million for further development. As an ambitious next step, AHA has announced a new Data Grant Portfolio, awarding 14 grants over the course of 12 months, focused in four areas: Data Mining, Methods Validation, Innovative Development and Fellowships.
The competitive grants and fellowships are aimed at fostering cross-disciplinary learning, research and collaboration among a wide variety of professionals across biomedical research, including computational biology and computer science. AWS is providing credits that can be used by grant recipients for free access to AWS services that can be used toward computational storage and analysis on AWS, as part of the AHA Data Grant Portfolio. The AHA will supply the funding for research expenses including salaries.
Cash incentives will also be awarded to the grantees in each area with the best ideas for enhancing and enabling data discovery. These data grants complement a full portfolio of precision medicine research awards that the AHA has funded since 2014. “AWS is uniquely positioned to provide scalable, cost-efficient solutions for the scientific community, while delivering the industry-shaping technology and high-performance computing necessary to facilitate the most demanding research projects,” said Teresa Carlson, Vice President Worldwide Public Sector, AWS, Inc. “We’re honored to be the AHA’s collaborator on this incredibly important endeavor to improve cardiovascular health worldwide.”
Opportunities through the AHA Data Grant Portfolio
Through these grants and fellowships, the AHA hopes to enable the scientific, mathematics and technology community to discover solutions to overcome the current obstacles in accessing and utilizing data. Through these solutions, the strategic collaboration between AHA and AWS strives to improve cardiovascular health and wellbeing around the world.
• Data Mining Grants are aimed at uncovering patterns and knowledge within existing data sets that will inform standards and protocols for organizing and categorizing current and future cardiovascular disease¬ based data. These grants will also focus on data harmonization steps necessary for data mining.
• Methods Validation Grants will focus on validating pre-existing methods including algorithms and analytic tools used to maximize the use of data in predicting outcomes.
• Innovative Development Grants will focus on developing tools that enrich our ability to identify novel approaches and/or tools to analyze data.
• Fellowship Awards are intended to cross-train scientists interested in learning computational biology or more information about specific cohorts. The data fellowships aim to establish a future generation of researchers with enhanced skills and capabilities.