By AMERICAN HEART ASSOCIATION NEWS

Illustration of idea and One Brave Idea Logo

The search for one person with “One Brave Idea” to solve the challenges of coronary heart disease is one step closer to a reality, with the hope that the idea could eventually lead to a cure.

Applications are available for download and submission at 4 p.m. on Thursday at onebraveidea.com for the opportunity to build and lead a team that will find new ways to understand, reverse and prevent coronary heart disease.

The project will last for at least five years and comes with a whopping $75 million in funding, or $25 million more than was attached when this effort was first discussed in November as a partnership between the American Heart Association and Verily, then known as Google Life Sciences. An investment from the biopharmaceutical company AstraZeneca has increased what already was the biggest financial commitment to one team studying coronary heart disease.

Anyone and everyone is eligible to apply. What matters most is the idea, not the resume. However, applicants must have clear, succinct vision and leadership because it has to fit on a single sheet of notebook paper and is due within a month – by 11:59 p.m. CT on Feb. 14.

Cardiovascular diseases are the No. 1 killer worldwide and coronary heart disease is among the most devastating type, accounting for about 7 million deaths each year. Yet experts believe science is closing in on a breakthrough; having found ways to slow the onset of coronary heart disease. The next step is reversing it.

The challenge is how to do this.

One Brave Idea sprung from a conversation between AHA CEO Nancy Brown and Dr. Andrew Conrad, the CEO of Verily, about the state of cardiovascular disease research. Conrad suggested shaking things up – taking a new approach to an old problem – and Brown agreed.

The format of picking a single leader with a single idea from any walk of life, is quite a departure from form. And to really make a splash, Brown and Conrad came up with the massive pool of funding. Each of their organizations pitched in $25 million and they encouraged others to add to it. AstraZeneca is the first to do so.

At the November announcement, Conrad memorably said the money could go to “a teenager in Wisconsin” if that person presents the best idea. This underscores what an all-comers event the application process is meant to be. The person chosen to lead this project won’t necessarily come from a non-traditional scientific area – such as thermodynamics, mathematics or physics – but certainly could, which itself is unusual in this realm. Regardless of the selected leader’s background, he or she will be expected to build a team featuring the world’s best and brightest minds, pulled from whatever fields necessary.

Continuing the theme of keeping things simple, the application features only four questions. Each person must use 250 words or less to answer and should explain why their idea is different from anything done before.

Every submission will be reviewed by a Joint Leadership Group featuring representatives from AHA, Verily and AstraZeneca. Additional information may be requested as the pool narrows.  An undetermined number of finalists will be invited for in-person interviews.

The leader is expected to be chosen this summer.

The Joint Leadership Group will include Brown and Conrad, as well as AHA board members Robert Harrington, M.D., and Joseph Loscalzo, M.D.; Verily Chief Medical Officer Jessica Mega, M.D.; Mike McConnell, M.D., of Verily; and AstraZeneca vice presidents Gregory Keenan, M.D., and Bruce Cooper, M.D.

In addition to the $75 million at their disposal, the leader of One Brave Idea will be able to tap into the technical, scientific and medical resources offered by AHA, Verily and AstraZeneca, as well as the connections offered by leaders of such organizations.

Although Verily and AstraZeneca are public companies, neither stands to gain financially from the potential success of One Brave Idea. AHA will be responsible for administering this research program on behalf of all organizations.