Women’s Health Innovation Grants

Program Overview

Women’s health has been historically underfunded [1,2]. Consequently, the space has suffered from a lack of innovative technologies and advancements. There is a significant need to better understand gender biology to be able to effectively treat diseases that exclusively, predominately, or differentially affect women. The Massachusetts Life Sciences Center aims to support translational research in women’s health and gender biology that will ultimately lead to commercial opportunities that address the lack of innovative technologies. The Women’s Health Innovation Grants are aimed at innovations that have translational potential, preliminary supporting data, but still require a key set of proof of concept experiments prior to attracting a commercial partner or spinning out into a new company. Projects could include hiring a post doc to perform research, working with a CRO, etc. in order to file patents, enter into a sponsored research agreement, etc.

Individual grants of up to $300,000 will be awarded to Massachusetts-based women’s health researchers, and up to $3 million is available for the whole program.

Eligibility & Evaluation

Eligible applicants must be a full or part-time faculty at a Massachusetts-based research institution proposing a project that is focused on increasing our understanding of sex and gender differences in biology (that has translational potential) or developing solutions for diseases or conditions that affect women exclusively, predominately, or differentially. Funding must be used to support an experiment or experiments that increase(s) the translational opportunity for the technology with a defined deliverable such as filing of patents, securing sponsored research agreement, attracting other industry support, etc.

An external panel of scientists from academia and industry with expertise in women’s health and translating early-stage innovations will review applications with an eye towards their value to our understanding of women’s health, the unmet need they are addressing, and the proposed solution, among other criteria.

Please see full list of eligibility requirements and evaluation process.


Sample Application

Deliverables, Confidentiality, and General Conditions

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 [3], and women spend more money on healthcare throughout the course of their lifetime [4]. Massachusetts has talent and potential to become a leader in women’s health innovation through increased funding across the

The MLSC has launched a women’s health initiative to promote innovation in women’s health and gender biology and act as a kick-starter to increasing funding and positioning Massachusetts to become a leader in the space. Our initial efforts, including this grant, aim to bolster innovations coming out of academia to increase the number of technologies that make their way into industry and ultimately aid in the treatment of women’s health conditions. More information on the other programs in this initiative can be found here: First Look and Women’s Health Capital Call.

Connect with us to Learn More

If you have any questions regarding the application process, e-mail womenshealth@masslifesciences.com with the Innovation Grant in the subject line.

[1] Estimates of Funding for Various Research, Condition, and Disease Categories. NIH RePORT. 2020. https://report.nih.gov/funding/categorical-spending#/
[2] Rajan, R. Entrepreneurs have many reasons to tackle women’s health. Rock Helath. 2015. https://rockhealth.com/entrepreneurs-have-many-reasons-to-tackle-womens-health/
[3] Tharpe N. Adverse drug reactions in women’s health care. J Midwifery Womens Health. 2011 56(3):205-13. doi: 10.1111/j.1542-2011.2010.00050.x. PMID: 21535369.
[4] Ranji, et. al. JAMA. 2019;321(22):2154.10.1001/jama.2019.5271