WALTHAM, Mass. –The Massachusetts Life Sciences Center (MLSC), the quasi-public agency tasked with implementing the state’s 10-year, $1 billion Life Sciences Initiative, has launched a third round of its Cooperative Research Matching Grant Program. The MLSC will begin accepting online applications for the program today at www.masslifesciences.com. Applications must be submitted by noon on February 28, 2013.
The MLSC’s Cooperative Research Matching Grants seek to increase industry-sponsored research at academic institutions in Massachusetts in order to accelerate scientific discoveries that lead to commercially-viable products and therapies. Under the program, applicants may receive up to $250,000 per year for up to two years. The grants support research that could lead to life-saving therapies and commercialized products, and seek to further the goal of sustaining and growing the state’s vital life sciences Supercluster.
“The MLSC designed the Cooperative Research Matching Grant Program to encourage research institutions and industry partners to collaboratively advance science that holds a high promise for commercialization,” said Susan Windham Bannister, Ph.D., President & CEO of the MLSC. “It is evident that the last two rounds of grants will bring economic returns and advance medical and scientific knowledge throughout the world. We look forward to receiving a new round of applications for this important program.”
Since its inception, this program has funded research projects that have ranged from cardiac conditions, diabetes, HIV and lupus, to osteoarthritis, breast cancer and ALS. A full listing of past awardees and industry partners is available on the MSLC’s web site.
One of those projects was a collaboration between Baxter Healthcare, an Illinois-based healthcare company with a division in Norwood, MA, and the Program in Cellular and Molecular Medicine at Boston Children's Hospital. Judy Lieberman, M.D., Ph.D., Senior Investigator and Professor of Pediatrics at Harvard Medical School, received a $750,000 Cooperative Research Matching Grant, matched by Baxter Healthcare, in 2008 to develop an siRNA-based microbicide for viruses, such as herpes, HPV and HIV.
“This MLSC grant program provides valuable support for translating innovative ideas developed in Massachusetts research labs into clinical products that can help treat disease,” commented Dr. Lieberman. By 2012, Dr. Lieberman's lab had been granted a U.S. Patent for “siRNA microbicides for preventing and treating diseases” and had developed a way to use RNA interference to protect humanized mice from HIV infection. She is currently planning primate studies to further develop this approach to prevent human transmission.
In September 2012 the MLSC’s Board of Directors voted to approve $2 million for Cooperative Research Matching Grants to foster collaborations between scientists, academic institutions and industry. To date, the MLSC has awarded eight Cooperative Research Matching Grants, totaling $4.78 million. The grants are matched dollar-for-dollar by the respective industry partners involved with each collaboration.
As of September 2012, two of the eight, or one quarter, of the Cooperative Research Grants’ academic researchers had leveraged their grants from the MLSC with follow-on funding, totaling more than $8.6 million. Additionally, one investigator has received follow-on funding from the project’s industry partner to continue his translational research project. Grantees have also published a combined total of at least 10 articles that have been presented in six scientific journals, and one grantee has received a full U.S. patent.
About the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center
The Massachusetts Life Sciences Center is a quasi-public agency of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts tasked with implementing the Massachusetts Life Sciences Act, a ten-year, $1 billion initiative that was signed into law in June of 2008. The Center’s mission is to create jobs in the life sciences and support vital scientific research that will improve the human condition. This work includes making financial investments in public and private institutions that are advancing life sciences research, development and commercialization as well as building ties between sectors of the Massachusetts life sciences community. For more information, visit www.masslifesciences.com.