First Look Awards

Program Overview

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. The goal of this grant program is to support translational research at Massachusetts research institutions that furthers our understanding of sex and gender differences especially for diseases or conditions that affect women exclusively, predominately, or differentially.  The First Look Awards align with the Connors Center First.In.Women Precision Medicine Platform, which seeks to promote translational investigation to ensure that novel therapeutics are developed to optimize health for both women and men. Through this collaboration, the MLSC and Connors Center will conduct a review process that ends with an award announcement at the BWH Connors Center National Summit on the Health of Women.

Up to $150,000 is available for the awards program, and we anticipate making three awards of up to $50,000 to support research performed by faculty and at a Massachusetts not-for-profit research institution that are seeking to research and understand women’s health conditions.

Applications will open November 8, 2021 and are due by January 28, 2022.

Eligibility & Evaluation

Eligible applicants must meet the following criteria:

  • Full Time or Part Time Faculty at Massachusetts Based Research Institution
  • Primary appointment at a Massachusetts Research Institution
  • Researchers must be proposing a project that is focused on increasing understanding of sex and gender differences in biology or developing solutions for diseases or conditions that affect women exclusively, predominately, or differentially.
  • 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 that increases the translational opportunity for the technology

An external panel of scientists from academia and industry with expertise in women’s health will review applications on the following categories:

  • Qualifications of the team
  • Use of funds
  • Value to our understanding of women’s health and the Massachusetts ecosystem
  • Proposed plan and approach to solving a key question
  • Unmet need and translational opportunity

There may be a request of top applicants to meet with our review panel. Those applicants will receive a notification of that request. Finalists will be featured during the day at the Connors Center National Summit on the Health of Women and the awardee(s) will be announced during the Summit.

Applications due by: January 28, 2022



Sample Application

Mary Horrigan Connors Center for Women’s Health and Gender Biology

Learn more about the MLSC’s Women’s Health Initiative

Impact on the Ecosystem

Massachusetts recognizes there has been a lack of development in novel solutions to treat conditions that solely or disproportionately affect women or have a different presentation between genders. This impacts not only patients but also employers and the healthcare system. The consequences are profound, with women more likely to have adverse drug reactions than men, and the lack of effective therapies results in reduced quality of life. The MSLC aims to support research towards the understanding of conditions and development of solutions in this area of need.

Connect with us to Learn More

If you have questions regarding the application process, e-mail: with “First Look” in the subject line.