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Women's health research part of Gov. Healey's economic development push

A doctor's stethoscope.
Hush Naidoo Jade / unsplash.com
Creative Commons
A doctor's stethoscope.

Gov. Maura Healey announced Tuesday nearly $3 million in grant funding for 15 projects aiming to bolster women's health research, as the administration looks to build support for its economic development bill that would reauthorize the life sciences initiative.

The majority of the funding, $2.6 million for the Women's Health Innovation program at the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center (MLSC), would support projects that show "translational potential" but still require more experimenting before they can secure commercial investments. The projects deal with predicting pregnancy outcomes, decreasing the number of unnecessary colonoscopies while screening for cervical cancer, assessing the use of a "novel cannabinoid product" for endometriosis, and using a "biomaterial platform" to tackle barriers tied to drug delivery, among other initiatives.

Healey's office also announced $250,000 in funding through the First Look Awards program — which is a collaboration between the MLSC and the Mary Horrigan Connors Center for Women's Health and Gender Biology at Brigham and Women's Hospital -- for five "exploratory projects." The grant recipients are studying peripheral artery disease, pregnancies complicated by Type 1 diabetes, a non-invasive way to diagnose endometriosis, a digital mental health intervention for postpartum anxiety, and treatment for bipolar disorder during pregnancy and breastfeeding.

"We’re incredibly proud of the potential of these projects announced today to ensure that Massachusetts remains the global life sciences hub," Jeanne LeClair, the MLSC's acting CEO and vice president of economic development and partnerships, said in a statement. "An important pillar of this hub remains our leadership in women's health. Massachusetts is uniquely positioned to drive collaboration between industry, education, non-profit, and government in this and other key research areas."

Healey unveiled the grant recipients as she, Economic Development Secretary Yvonne Hao, Health and Human Services Kate Walsh, and Mass General Brigham CEO Dr. Anne Klibanski visited the Connors Center on Tuesday morning.

The event marked a stop on Healey's "Mass Leads Act Roadshow," as the governor continues to highlight her economic development bill, which calls for reauthorizing the life sciences initiative at $1 billion for another decade.

The initiative includes $500 million in capital funding for the MLSC and $150 million in operating resources, such as workforce training and strategic efforts to grow the state's life sciences sector. Healey also wants to inject $350 million into the life sciences tax incentive program.

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