More than half million dollars in research grants awarded to understand No. 1 birth defect

DALLAS, Feb. 6, 2024 — Five promising scientific researchers will advance their work to better understand and treat the most common birth defect in the U.S., congenital heart defects (CHDs), thanks to joint financial support from the American Heart Association and The Children’s Heart Foundation's Congenital Heart Defect Research Awards program.

To date, the American Heart Association, celebrating 100 years of lifesaving service and devoted to a world of healthier lives for all, and The Children’s Heart Foundation, dedicated to funding congenital heart defect research, have pledged more than $10 million across 10 years of the CHD research funding collaboration.

Nearly 40,000 infants are born with a CHD each year in the United States. Approximately 1 in 4 babies born with a CHD require invasive surgery or treatment in their first year of life.[1] While medical advancements have improved over the years, many of these children and their families still face a lifetime of challenges.[2] Scientific research that helps healthcare professionals understand, identify, and treat CHDs is helping these babies live longer, healthier lives.

Receiving the very latest in new grant funding, combining for nearly $600,000 are:

  • Jonathon Muncie, Ph.D. at the J. David Gladstone Institutes in San Francisco for Deciphering the Role of Mef2c in Allocating Second Heart Field Progenitors to the Linear Heart Tube
  • SunYoung Kim for the Board of Regents of the University of Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha for Alcohol and Notch Pathway Mutations Synergistically Induce Atrioventricular Canal Defects: Potential Rescue by Folate
  • Siting Zhu, Ph.D. at the Regents of the University of California, San Diego in La Jolla for investigating NEDD4 in right ventricular development
  • Yixuan Liu, M.S. at The Ohio State University in Columbus for investigating a neural network pipeline for rapid acquisition and reconstruction of MRI data for catheterization procedures
  • Shatha Salameh, M.S. at Children's National Medical Center and Children's Research Institute in Washington, D.C. for investigating age-dependent differences in cardiac drug response

“Babies born with CHD are now living well into adulthood and having babies of their own,” said Joseph Wu, M.D., PhD, FAHA, volunteer president of the American Heart Association, director of the Stanford Cardiovascular Institute and professor of medicine and radiology at Stanford University. “With this progress comes an opportunity for us to recommit our resources to investigating congenital heart disease as it affects adult patients. It’s been 100 years since the American Heart Association was founded, and obviously research has come a long way. It’s up to these researchers—and our volunteers across the country—to help guide where our second century takes us.”

“Our collaboration with the American Heart Association to fund life-saving research gets us that much closer to a world where every child has the chance to grow into a healthy adult,” said Gail Roddie-Hamlin, president and CEO of The Children’s Heart Foundation. “As we announce these grants going into Congenital Heart Defect Awareness Week, we’re doubling down on our commitment to families by funding the most promising research and raising much needed awareness.”

Researchers studying the prevention and treatment of CHDs are encouraged to submit applications for funding from the American Heart Association and The Children’s Heart Foundation. For submission guidelines and upcoming deadlines specific to the Congenital Heart Defects Research Awards, visit