An AHA Scientist in Development grant in 2004 did more than provide critical funding for Marie-Pierre St-Onge, PhD — it was a stepping stone for her career and the evolution of her involvement with the AHA.
“It seems like the AHA has been there for me at all the major transitions of my career, and I am very grateful for their support,” said St-Onge, who was transitioning from a post-doctoral fellow to an assistant professor when she received her first AHA grant.
Today, St-Onge co-directs the AHA’s Go Red For Women Strategically Focused Research Network Center, where she’s a principal investigator for an SFRN grant she received in 2016.
She’s also been involved with the AHA in numerous other ways, including as chair of the Communications and Membership Committee and as a member of the Obesity Committee for the Council on Lifestyle and Cardiometabolic Health.
She currently serves on the council’s Nutrition and the Spring Meeting Planning committees and was recently appointed to the Science Advisory and Coordinating Committee.
“I thoroughly enjoy being an active member of my council and volunteering in council committees as well as at the national level,” said St-Onge, associate professor of nutritional medicine at Columbia University Medical Center in New York.
St-Onge, who joined the AHA in 2003 to present her doctoral research findings at Scientific Sessions, said getting involved on an AHA scientific council has not only helped her career trajectory, but it’s also been enjoyable.
“I love being involved in cutting-edge research and science and having a role in disseminating scientific knowledge to the medical community and the general public,” she said. “Being an active council member provides opportunities to interact with scientists of varied backgrounds — all working towards a common goal to understand, prevent, treat and manage heart disease.
“Thanks to the AHA, I’ve worked with great people I never would have worked with otherwise. To advance in academia, you have to have a broad network that extends beyond your institution. Getting involved in the AHA helps you to expand your network and gain exposure for your research.”
St-Onge encourages new and early career members to attend career activities and speak to more senior members during Scientific Sessions.
“Getting involved is easy,” she said. “In my experience, the AHA — and the Council on Lifestyle and Cardiometabolic Health in particular — is full of friendly individuals who are easily approachable.”
In addition to continuing to participate on her council, St-Onge said she plans to support efforts to give back to the association.
“Since receiving my SFRN award, I’ve recognized how much work goes into raising money to support research,” she said. “My group makes an active effort to give back to the AHA and to assist in fundraising in any way possible. I have participated in events at my AHA affiliate that have given me a new appreciation and understanding of the AHA’s efforts to support and advocate for heart disease research.”