Program Design: The First Look Awards are a collaboration between the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center (MLSC) and the Mary Horrigan Connors Center for Women’s Health and Gender Biology at Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH), Harvard Medical School.

Applicants must be based at a Massachusetts not-for-profit research institution working as Principal Investigators on an exploratory project to begin developing translatable solutions for women’s health and furthering our understanding of gender biology.

  • Up to $250,000 is available for the awards program
  • Each award is anticipated to be up to $50,000
  • Projects are anticipated to last one year
  • There are no limits on the number of proposals that may be submitted by each non-profit institution, however, each individual Principal Investigator is asked to only submit one application

Benefits from the BWH Connors Center

  • Integration with the BWH Connors Center First.In.Women community, which comprises a broad network of researchers who support the BWH Connors Center’s core vision to ensure that women benefit equally from all medical advances by conducting translational research on sex/gender differences and the health of women.
  • The MLSC First Look Award recipient will participate in Connors Center First.In.Women work-in-progress meetings to exchange ideas with other researchers conducting translational investigation focused on novel therapeutics to promote the health of women.
  • The recipient of the MLSC First Look Award will have opportunities to showcase their research at Connors Center events, including but not limited to research symposia and virtual events.

Program Eligibility

Eligible applicants must meet the following criteria:

  • Full or part-time employee at a not-for-profit Massachusetts-based research institution
  • Researchers must be proposing as Principal Investigators an exploratory project that is focused on increasing our understanding of sex and gender differences in biology or developing translatable solutions for diseases or conditions that affect women solely, disproportionately, or differently
  • Primary appointment at a not-for-profit Massachusetts research institution
  • The project must have a human health focus with core technology and/or service in biotechnology, pharmaceuticals, medical devices, medical diagnostics or imaging, bioinformatics, digital health, genomics, nanotechnology, drug delivery, proteomics, regenerative medicine, etc.
  • Funding must be used to support an experiment or experiments that increase(s) the translational opportunity for the technology
  • The Applicant and Grantee institution must be in compliance with all other Center agreements, if any.

Review Process

Review Criteria: Applications will be reviewed by an external panel of scientists from academia and industry with expertise in women’s health. Applications will be reviewed based on the following categories:

  • Qualifications of the team
  • Use of funds
  • Value to our understanding of gender biology and women’s health and the Massachusetts ecosystem
  • Proposed plan and approach to solving a key question in Women’s Health
  • Unmet need being addressed
  • Potential for translational opportunities especially towards bettering the treatment of women’s health conditions


  • Allowable costs for MLSC funds: salaries, legal expenses, clinical trials, consultants, materials, supplies, purchase of capital equipment, project-related travel (up to 10%) and overhead/indirect expenses not to exceed 15% of the total award ($6,522 for an award of $50,000).
  • Non-fundable expenses include: paying for operating costs such as utilities and activities funded by other funding sources.
  • Following execution of the grant agreement, funds will be provided on a reimbursement basis to the Awardees based on the terms of the Grant Agreement.
  • The MLSC reserves the right to adjust the requested amount of funding for each proposal.