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Massachusetts Life Sciences Center capital funding to support three programs at Medical School

UMass Medical School Communications

August 21, 2020
Seventeen projects received funding to support the life sciences ecosystem, including three at UMass Medical School.

The Massachusetts Life Sciences Center (MLSC) has announced more than $15 million in capital funding to support life sciences innovation infrastructure, the development of key data repositories and training for scientists across the commonwealth.

In total, 17 projects are receiving funding to support the life sciences ecosystem, including three at UMass Medical School. The MLSC awarded funding through its Open Capital program to the UMass Medical School Positron Emission Tomography Center, led by Mary Rusckowski, PhD, associate professor of radiology; and the project Enhancing Innovation in Drug Discovery, by Paul Thompson, PhD, professor of biochemistry & molecular pharmacology and director of the Chemical Biology Interface program at the Medical School.

Through its Bits to Bytes program, the MLSC awarded funding to Christina Baer, PhD, assistant professor of microbiology & physiological systems, and Dorothy Schafer, PhD, assistant professor of neurobiology, and their industry partner, Tiaki, for the project Spatial Transcriptomic Approaches to Map Neuroinflammation in Neurodegenerative Disease.

Massachusetts Secretary of Housing and Economic Development Mike Kennealy made the announcement during remarks at MALSI+ 2020, a virtual gathering of scientific innovators, entrepreneurs, business leaders and investors whose groundbreaking work across the globe is addressing life science innovation.

“In the life sciences, we are at a watershed moment, where new ideas and innovative strategies are needed to accelerate the creation, growth and success at all levels of our ecosystem,” said Sec. Kennealy, who also serves as co-chair of the MLSC’s Board of Directors. “The Baker-Polito administration remains committed to providing key investments to ensure the upward trajectory of the life sciences sector in Massachusetts as a mechanism for workforce and economic development, and scientific advancement.”

The Open Capital program provides grants for state-of-the-art equipment and infrastructure that support the life sciences ecosystem in Massachusetts. To date, the MLSC has awarded or committed more than $480 million to support capital projects across the state. Funding through this year’s Open Capital round supported equipment and expansion projects at academic organizations, research institutions, research hospitals, startup incubators and other nonprofit organizations.

The MLSC launched Bits to Bytes in 2019 to provide grants for projects that generate and analyze large datasets to answer pressing life science questions, and to attract and train data scientists in the commonwealth. The goal of Bits to Bytes is to employ data analytics and/or machine learning techniques to develop a greater understanding of various medical conditions to develop optimal treatments to improve patient health.