"We intend to really change the way cardiovascular research is conducted," said Nancy Brown, chief executive of the American Heart Association.

AHA, Google Announce $50 Million Research Partnership

The American Heart Association and Google Life Sciences will set up a single research team that will seek novel strategies to reverse and prevent coronary heart disease, the number one killer of Americans.

The American Heart Association and Google Life Sciences are joining forces in a $50 million investment, announced Nov. 8, for about five years. They will set up a single research team that will seek novel strategies to reverse and prevent coronary heart disease, the number one killer of Americans.

"We intend to really change the way cardiovascular research is conducted," said Nancy Brown, chief executive of the American Heart Association, while Andy Conrad, chief executive of Google Life Sciences, said the key to their partnership is finding a new way to address an old problem. Coronary heart disease causes 7 million of the 17.5 million deaths each year from cardiovascular diseases.

"It seems ripe for new innovations, new ways to look at it, and maybe new ways to see about prevention and be more proactive," Conrad explained. "We thought, what would be a new paradigm, a new way to look at this? We thought it would be super interesting if we could pick a single team to shepherd us through this effort."

AHA's announcement said the project is called "1 Team, 1 Vision" and will have one leader who has yet to be chosen. The chief job requirement: is a creative vision, according to the partners. "It could be a teenager in Wisconsin. The best idea should triumph," Conrad said.

In early 2016, a Joint Leadership Group will be established to appoint a team leader to run this. "Hopefully this sparks a new wave of interest in doing research at a scale that can have a major impact. We're excited to see what happens," Conrad said.

Their announcement came during the opening of AHA's Scientific Sessions, which are taking place through Nov 11 in Orlando. The Scientific Sessions are AHA's flagship event.

"This is not just handing money over, it's really working together in a partnership to tackle, prevent, and understand coronary heart disease," said Jessica Mega, chief science officer of Google Life Sciences. "I think that's what makes this grant also particularly different, unique, and exciting."

According to the announcement, Brown visited Conrad in June 2005 and, when she brought the idea to the AHA board of directors, she received an enthusiastic response about putting in $25 million alongside the $25 million from Google Life Sciences. "This commitment is on top of all other existing commitments from the AHA, which is already the largest funder of cardiovascular research in the United States outside the federal government, having invested more than $3.9 billion, including upwards of $100 million annually since 1996," it said.

"Our traditional way of doing research, through the peer-review process, results in a fair bit of incrementalism, or movement in small steps," said Dr. Robert Harrington, an AHA board member and chair of the Department of Medicine at the Stanford University School of Medicine. "This is really, with Andy's prodding, getting us to a new way of thinking about how to do some of this. From an AHA board perspective, we're very, very excited to see this launched."

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