Team Science: American Heart Association's Hypertension Strategically Focused Research Network Experience

Mark K. Santillan, Richard C. Becker, David A. Calhoun, Allen W. Cowley, Joseph T. Flynn, Justin L. Grobe, Theodore A. Kotchen, Daniel T. Lackland, Kimberly K. Leslie, Mingyu Liang, David L. Mattson, Kevin E. Meyers, Mark M. Mitsnefes, Paul M. Muntner, Gary L. Pierce, Jennifer S. Pollock, Curt D. Sigmund, Stephen J. Thomas, Elaine M. Urbina, Srividya Kidambi

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


In 2015, the American Heart Association awarded 4-year funding for a Strategically Focused Research Network focused on hypertension composed of 4 Centers: Cincinnati Children's Hospital, Medical College of Wisconsin, University of Alabama at Birmingham, and University of Iowa. Each center proposed 3 integrated (basic, clinical, and population science) projects around a single area of focus relevant to hypertension. Along with scientific progress, the American Heart Association put a significant emphasis on training of next-generation hypertension researchers by sponsoring 3 postdoctoral fellows per center over 4 years. With the center projects being spread across the continuum of basic, clinical, and population sciences, postdoctoral fellows were expected to garner experience in various types of research methodologies. The American Heart Association also provided a number of leadership development opportunities for fellows and investigators in these centers. In addition, collaboration was highly encouraged among the centers (both within and outside the network) with the American Heart Association providing multiple opportunities for meeting and expanding associations. The area of focus for the Cincinnati Children's Hospital Center was hypertension and target organ damage in children utilizing ambulatory blood pressure measurements. The Medical College of Wisconsin Center focused on epigenetic modifications and their role in pathogenesis of hypertension using human and animal studies. The University of Alabama at Birmingham Center's areas of research were diurnal blood pressure patterns and clock genes. The University of Iowa Center evaluated copeptin as a possible early biomarker for preeclampsia and vascular endothelial function during pregnancy. In this review, challenges faced and successes achieved by the investigators of each of the centers are presented.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1857-1866
Number of pages10
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 1 2021


  • biomarkers
  • hospitals
  • hypertension
  • interdisciplinary research
  • preeclampsia

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Internal Medicine


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