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$2 million in grants for medical research on social risk factors and hypertension in women

(NewMediaWire) - August 24, 2022 - DALLAS – The American Heart Association has awarded research teams from five institutions a total of $2 million to fund scientific research focused on better understanding the impact around the social determinants of health, social risk factors and health-related social needs on women’s hypertension in under-resourced populations. The American Heart Association, the leading voluntary organization devoted to longer, healthier lives for all, recognizes that medical care alone is insufficient to ensure better health and well-being.[1] Understanding the role of factors such as social determinants of health, social risk factors and health-related social needs is a crucial component of establishing equitable health for all.

Research has begun to explore the role of these factors and needs on cardiovascular health and well-being. Early studies have historically been limited by small sample sizes and underrepresentation of ethnic and racial groups, women and LGBTQ communities. The research funded by these new grants will participate in and contribute data to Research Goes Red, a unique online participant-centric data registry focused on improving women’s health, established by the American Heart Association’s Go Red For Women® initiative in collaboration with Verily’s Project Baseline. Over 19,000 women have already joined Research Goes Red, connecting women in the United States with scientists and clinicians to involve more women in research.

Each team will enroll new research participants in the Research Goes Red registry and lead new studies focused on the impact of social determinants of health, social risk factors and health-related social needs in hypertension in underserved populations of women.

Applicants for the grants include the brightest minds working in the fields of artificial intelligence, machine learning and precision health. Each awardee’s team will receive $225 thousand per year for two years, beginning in July 2022:

  • Michael Honigberg, M.D., M.P.P., Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston: Health-related social needs and the risk of hypertension in young adult and early midlife women: The impact of pregnancy.
  • Christina Yarrington, M.D., FACOG, Boston Medical Center, Boston: Transitions in Health-Related Social Needs and Hypertension Management among High-Risk Postpartum Women.
  • Garima Sharma, M.D., FAHA, director of cardio obstetrics and associate vice chair of women’s careers in academic medicine, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore: The Social Determinants of the Risk of Hypertension in Women Study: Phenotyping Polysocial Risk in Women of Reproductive Age (18-44y)
  • Erin Poe Ferranti, Ph.D., M.P.H., R.N., FAHA, Emory University, Atlanta: Community Resource Navigation With and Without Social Support to Prevent Chronic Hypertension Among At-Risk Black Women of Reproductive Age
  • Jennifer B. Levin, Ph.D., University Hospitals Cleveland Medical Center and professor, department of psychiatry, Case Western Reserve University school of medicine, Cleveland: A Pilot RCT of a Remotely Delivered Self-management Program (TEAM-Red) for Depressed Young African American Women at Risk for Hypertension

Given that social factors represent the base for how health is experienced, data about social determinants of health have been generally assessed and addressed in isolation of one another, leading to widely disparate forms of data and data collection strategies. The absence of a standard approach to collecting these data is a potential barrier to the ability to compare, extrapolate and apply evidence-based findings to larger populations[2],[3].

To help overcome this barrier, these studies will work toward establishing a common language and standard set of metrics in this field to further the ability to combine data from multiple studies, measure impact and improve our understanding of social and environmental variables that impact quality-of-life related risks and outcomes.

Each grant includes an Amazon Web Services (AWS) credit for $50,000 per year for use on the American Heart Association Precision Medicine Platform. The Precision Medicine Platform, powered by AWS, is a central hub for the cardiovascular and stroke research community to access vast and diverse datasets and cloud-based workspaces that enable state-of-the-art, high-performance computing, analytics and collaboration to accelerate scientific discovery. The Precision Medicine Platform provides streamlined data access and cloud-based workspaces, removing traditional barriers researchers often face when approaching challenging scientific questions.

“At the American Heart Association, equity and science are at the center of everything we do. Addressing social risk factors and health-related social needs is key to combatting hypertension for diverse patient populations, especially for underserved populations,” said Jennifer Hall, Ph.D., chief of data science for the American Heart Association. “Using the Precision Medicine Platform, researchers can come together to help us better understand how these factors affect hypertension in underserved female populations.”

Social determinants of health (SDOH) are the structural determinants and conditions in which people are born, grow, live, work and age that affect health, functioning and quality of life. Social risk factors are specific adverse conditions associated with poor health, such as social isolation or housing instability.

Additional Resources:


About 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 heart.orgFacebookTwitter or by calling 1-800-AHA-USA1.   

For Media Inquiries:

Pamela Kreigh: 214-706-1434,

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

[1] Magnan S. Social Determinants of Health 201 for Health Care: Plan, Do, Study, Act. NAM Perspect. 2021;2021.

[2] Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion. Healthy People 2020. Social Determinants of Health. Available from:

[3] Havranek, E. P., Mujahid, M. S., Barr, D. A., Blair, I. V., Cohen, M. S., Cruz-Flores, S., Davey-Smith, G., Dennison-Himmelfarb, C. R., Lauer, M. S., Lockwood, D. W., Rosal, M., Yancy, C. W., & American Heart Association Council on Quality of Care and Outcomes Research, Council on Epidemiology and Prevention, Council on Cardiovascular and Stroke Nursing, Council on Lifestyle and Cardiometabolic Health, and Stroke Council (2015). Social Determinants of Risk and Outcomes for Cardiovascular Disease: A Scientific Statement From the American Heart Association. Circulation, 132(9), 873–898.

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