The Cardiovascular Translational Dream Team InitiativeCall for Proposals focused on COVID-19-related Heart Disease


Opening date: February 22, 2021
Application due date: March 22, 2021 at 5pm ET
Anticipated funding start date: May 1, 2021


Rationale and Overview

We are witnessing an unprecedented pandemic. In addition to the significant mortality related to acute COVID-19 infection, sub-acute and chronic complications are relatively common and cause significant morbidity and mortality. COVID-19-related cardiac sequelae are being recognized with increasing frequency. Myocarditis developing during or immediately following acute COVID-19 infection has been shown to cause acute heart failure and serious arrhythmias. Longer term complications include cardiomyopathy and myocardial fibrosis that in turn may serve as drivers of ventricular rhythm disturbances that predispose to sudden death. A disturbing feature of COVID-related heart involvement is that it is often not recognized until onset of severe cardiomyopathy or rhythm disturbances occurring well after recovery from the acute COVID-19 infection. Moreover, the severity of the acute infection does not appear to predict later sequelae. Recently, the Cardiovascular Institute (CVI) and Cardiovascular Medicine Division hosted a COVID Myocarditis Roundtable with the goal of learning about existing research interests and expertise across the University of Pennsylvania (Penn) relevant to cardiac complications of COVID-19 infection. This roundtable discussion identified significant early stage research activities focused on COVID-related CV complications across the entire spectrum from basic pathogenic mechanisms to clinical studies. Given the growing interest at Penn to address this important problem, the Penn CVI is launching a call for proposals to address COVID myocarditis using the “Dream Team” mechanism. The CVI Dream Team initiative was established in 2018 to provide early stage seed funding for well-defined CV disease-oriented projects focused on areas of unmet need. For this round, prospective teams will compete for funding provided by a CVI-based Translational Dream Team Innovation Fund. Applications will be reviewed and selected by an Executive Steering Committee (ESC) comprised of senior Penn scientists and ad hoc experts.  We plan to fund 2-3 projects ($50,000- $100,000 each) for a one-year period. It is our hope that this seed funding will provide rapid seed support to launch longer-term projects ultimately funded through external sources such as NIH, foundations, and/or industry. Proposals that leverage existing expertise* and efforts focused on the study of COVID-related cardiac complications will be given preference for funding (e.g. teams currently engaged in phenotyping approaches in humans to study cardiac complications or that have developed unique experimental disease models).


Examples of projects that would be appropriate for this funding mechanism include but are not limited to:

  • Studies focused on deep cardiac phenotyping and/or molecular/genetic profiling of longitudinal human cohorts post-SARS-CoV-2 infection aimed at:
    • Prediction and diagnosis
    • Risk stratification
    • Therapeutic approaches
  • Imaging approaches to detect myocardial inflammation and fibrosis
  • Fundamental studies of pathogenesis and therapies for COVID-related myocarditis


Please direct any questions related to the application or funding to Teresa Leone at  

*Information regarding ongoing human studies at Penn for potential collaborative projects can be provided upon request.


Relevant to our initiative, please also note that NIH plans to publish Research Opportunity Announcements (ROAs) as part of its new Post-Acute Sequelae of SARS-CoV-2 Infection (PASC) initiative. The initial ROAs are expected to be published by mid-February 2021 and awards made in early March.  More information about these ROAs can be found at

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