To promote engagement and advancement of female researchers at all career stages within the International Society for Applied Cardiovascular Biology (ISACB) by providing opportunities to enhance career development, scientific networking, and clinical translation.


The ISACB strives for a future of gender parity in the field of cardiovascular medicine and sciences and is committed to helping solve issues relevant to the professional growth and development of females in academic medicine and industry related to the cardiovascular system.


The WLC was created in 2017 during Dr. Elena Aikawa’s tenure as President of ISACB in 2016-2021. The goal behind the WLC was to bring awareness to gender gaps and work to create equity in representation at ISACB as the fields of bioengineering, cardiology, cardiothoracic surgery, and cardiovascular research in general have been traditionally enriched with male members. The founding co-chairs of the ISACB WLC were Drs. Cynthia St. Hilaire and Joy Lincoln. They first embarked on data collection to identify the gender make-up of ISACB members, conference attendees and speakers.

More recently, with continuous support from the ISACB leadership and the new president Luke Brewster, the WLC offered the first Family Care Award to financially support  early career researchers with dependants to attend ISACB’s 2022 conference in Memphis. Continuing forward, this award will be offered in all ISACB Biennial Meetings.

In 2024, the WLC is pleased to announce the creation of the Elena Aikawa Trailblazer Award, which recognizes an outstanding female member of ISACB who is at the mid-career stage and has made substantial contributions to the applied cardiovascular research field and to the ISACB community and honors Dr. Elena Aikawa’s career and legacy. This award will be offered yearly. More details on these initiatives can be found below.

WLC Initiatives

ISACB 2024 Elena Aikawa Trailblazer Award

The Elena Aikawa Trailblazer Award is an initiative of the ISACB Women’s leadership committee that recognizes a female member of ISACB who is at mid-career stage and has made substantial contributions to the applied cardiovascular research field and to the ISACB community. The Award is named after Dr. Elena Aikawa in recognition of her scientific accomplishments and dedication to mentoring female and underrepresented scientists. The inaugural winner will be selected based on their research contributions, mentoring activities and contributions to the ISACB community by an independent review committee consisting of ISACB members. The inaugural award winner will be honoured with a keynote lecture at the upcoming 2024 ISACB meeting in Vienna, Austria.

The recipient of this award will receive USD $1,000 honoraria + registration to attend the ISACB meeting where they will receive a commemorative plaque and deliver a lecture (mandatory) at the biennial ISACB meeting. The inaugural award will be given at the biennial ISACB meeting in Vienna (Oct 2024).

Individuals who self-identify as female, who are a member of ISACB in good standing and work as an independent investigator (fully independent investigator at academic, hospital or corporation) for up to 15 years since the beginning of their independent career.

This award is not intended for trainees or people transitioning to independence under a mentored research grant. Training period under a mentored research grant/PI does not count toward the eligibility time. Leaves of absence, including parental or medical leave, will be taken into consideration towards the eligibility period, resulting in the extension of the eligibility time according to the amount of time on leave. The onus to show independent status (e.g. leading roles in grant applications, publications, etc) will be on the applicant who will be allowed to add an optional, 1-paragraph justification in the application document.

Application requirements:
Applications should be submitted via e-mail to rlevit@emory.edu by May 10th, 2024 with the following subject line: “2024 Elena Aikawa Trailblazer Award Application”

PDF packet should include:

  • CV or Biosketch
  • 500 words addressing what makes the candidate a trailblazer and their contributions to: original research in the applied cardiovascular field, mentorship, service, leadership, and/or entrepreneurial activities, activities in equity, diversity, and inclusion
  • 250 words describing the candidate’s involvement in the ISACB’ activities and/or plans for future contributions.


About Dr. Elena Aikawa

The ISACB Women’s Trailblazer Award is named in honor of Dr. Elena Aikawa. Dr. Aikawa is a Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School and Naoki Miwa Distinguished Chair in Cardiovascular Medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH). She is also Co-director of the Center for Interdisciplinary Cardiovascular Sciences (CICS), Founding Director of the Heart Valve Translational Research Program, and Head of Cardiovascular Life Sciences at BWH.

Dr. Aikawa is dedicated to developing novel therapies for the prevention and treatment of calcific aortic valve disease, a condition that currently has no options other than valve replacement. Her research has been vital in the discovery of both inflammatory and extracellular vesicle-driven mechanisms that promote vascular and valvular calcification. Dr. Aikawa has co-authored over 300 publications in high-impact journals, including Nature Materials, Circulation, and the European Heart Journal, and has delivered over 200 keynote lectures and invited presentations. Dr. Aikawa holds editorial positions at Circulation Research and Arteriosclerosis Thrombosis and Vascular Biology (ATVB). She has received prestigious awards for her work including the Jeffrey M. Hoeg Award for Basic Science and Clinical Research and a Special Recognition Award in Vascular Biology (American Heart Association, ATVB Council).

In addition to her research interests, Dr. Aikawa is passionate about mentoring young scientists and committed to advancing the careers of women in science and medicine. She founded the annual Women in Science and Medicine Symposium at BWH and was elected as vice-chair of the Women’s Leadership Committee of the American Heart Association Council on ATVB. She also served as the first female president of the International Society for Applied Cardiovascular Biology (ISACB) from 2016 to 2021. With her international reputation, Dr. Aikawa co-founded the BWH Committee for Internationally Trained Women Faculty to 1) recruit exceptional female faculty and 2) retain women in science. Further, she is Co-chair of the Women in Cardiovascular Medicine Committee at BWH and assumes responsibility in this role to mentor and sponsor the division’s junior female faculty. Additionally, she has mentored students at Harvard Medical School’s Scholars in Translational and Academic Research (STARS) program to support the career advancement of those from underrepresented minority backgrounds. In total, Dr. Aikawa has mentored over 70 research fellows, and medical and doctoral students, of which 30 were/are female. She provides continual academic support to her former mentees who now hold diverse and prestigious positions globally, including university faculty positions, pharmaceutical directors and lead scientists, and legal officers.

ISACB 2024 Family Care Travel Award

The goal of the Family Care Award is to provide monetary support to enable caregiver to participate in  the ISACB Meeting. For the 2024 ISACB Meeting in Vienna, 4 awards of $500 USD each will be made. Individuals selected to receive a Family Care Award will be notified prior to the registration deadline. Funds will be awarded after the meeting in Vienna. ISACB is offering these awards as financial support for caregivers to offset the costs for childcare, eldercare, or other family care responsibilities and can be used at the recipients discretion (for example to hire on site care or hire help at home in their absence). Open to all career levels, with a priority to early career investigators, females, and members of historically underrepresented groups.

Application is available on abstract submission form.

Want to be involved in the WLC?

The ISACB Women’s Leadership Committee (WLC) is recruiting investigators at any career stage (men or women!) to serve as members of this committee. 

If you are interested in being an active member who helps to plan and participate in upcoming ISACB meetings & WLC initiatives, please submit your CV and a 1-2 paragraph statement on why you would like to join the WLC via the link below.


Want to sponsor WLC’s DEI initiatives?

If you are interested in becoming a sponsor, please contact us



Junior Member-at-Large