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Early Artificial Heart Research Funded by American Health Assistance Foundation

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CLARKSBURG, MD.-Noted researcher and doctor, Willem J. Kolff, M.D., who died February 11, 2009, and is known for his work in the design of the first artificial heart and artificial kidney, received early research funding from the American Health Assistance Foundation (AHAF).

From 1982-1989 the American Health Assistance awarded grants to Dr. Kolff, working then at the University of Utah, for early research in the Artificial Heart Program. The grants ranged from $10,000 to $54,332. The first artificial heart was implanted in Barney Clark in 1982 who lived for 112 days.

Dr. Kolff's AHAF funded research in the Artificial Heart Program included: Permanent Left and Right Side Support for the Failing Human Heart; Attempts to Eliminate Thromboemboli from Artificial Hearts; Thrombus-Free Elastomer Valves; and Elastomer Artificial Heart Valves. His research papers covered topics such as “The invention of the artificial heart, 1990”; Artificial kidney and artificial heart; further considerations, 1990”; The future of artificial organs and of us all, 1987”; “Artificial Organs beyond the first 40 years, 1984”.

The American Health Assistance Foundation has a long history of supporting high caliber research, in addition to funding the early work of Dr. Kolff, AHAF also provided funding to Dr. Stanley B. Prusiner, winner of the 1997 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine.

AHAF is a 501(c)(3) organization established in 1973 with a mission to raise money for public education and research in the areas of Alzheimer's disease, glaucoma and macular degeneration. Over the past 35 years AHAF has awarded over $90 million dollars for research with $60 million going specifically for Alzheimer's disease research. Although AHAF grants represents less than 1% of funds available for Alzheimer's disease research, approximately 6% of the funds contributed to “milestone” papers in the Alzheimer's disease field as identified by the Alzheimer's Research Forum, a third party community of Alzheimer's researchers. The American Health Assistance Foundation is a proud supporter of basic research in all of its programs.

The American Health Assistance funds projects both domestically and internationally, regardless of the researcher's citizenship. The majority of AHAF grant recipients are young researchers just beginning their research careers and senior investigators proposing particularly innovative early stage research. AHAF continues to monitor the successes of its grantees and reports these successes in its publications and website. Grant awards for the 2010 fiscal year will be announced in March 2009.