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Massachusetts Life Sciences Center Grant To Increase Clinical Trials at Baystate Health - Add Jobs To Economy

June 02, 2019
peter friedmann life sciences grant news

Baystate Medical Center has been awarded $3,949,912 in grant funding from the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center (MLSC) in an extremely competitive program designed to sustain the Commonwealth’s competitive edge in advancing human health.

“This support will expand our capacity to perform efficient and compliant clinical trials by building a Clinical Trials Unit (CTU) at Baystate Medical Center, speed medical advances, and make novel treatments available to our diverse patient population. We are grateful to MLSC, our legislators, the Governor and the citizens of the Commonwealth for this investment in the future of biomedical research in Western Massachusetts,” said Dr. Peter Friedmann, chief research officer for Baystate Health and associate dean for Research, University of Massachusetts Medical School-Baystate.

“For Baystate Health and our University of Massachusetts Medical School-Baystate, it is an opportunity to increase access to innovative treatments for the patients and communities we serve, engage faculty and staff in impactful clinical research, expand collaborations with academic and industry partners, and improve the productivity and efficiency with which we conduct clinical trials,” he added.

A Truly Competitive Process

Baystate is among 11 hospitals, colleges and other institutions to receive a total of $30.95 million in capital grant funding to support the state’s global leadership in the life sciences sector. There were 45 applications. The funding, provided through the MLSC’s Competitive Capital Program, is designed to support advances in human health, accelerate innovation in the areas of clinical and translational research, and expand the capacity of life sciences development and job growth across the Commonwealth.

“With many applications vying for limited resources, this process was truly a competitive one. The Center’s Board of Directors, the Board’s Investment Committee, our Scientific Advisory Board and the Bio-Manufacturing Review Panel, and other expert reviewers were very impressed with your proposal,” wrote Travis McCready, president and CEO of the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center, in a letter of congratulations to Dr. Friedmann.

The MLSC’s Competitive Capital Program invests capital dollars through a competitive process in high potential economic development projects that promise to make significant contributions to the state’s life sciences ecosystem. The competitive program aims to address funding gaps in capital dollars, industry support, and federal funding for educational institutions, incubators, research institutions, and workforce training programs, while also catalyzing private and philanthropic investment to match state investment and preparing the life sciences workforce of the future.

Clinical Trial Numbers To Expand

“The grant will expand local capacity to perform clinical trials of new innovations in digital health and medical devices right here in Springfield. We know that Massachusetts is a national leader in the health sciences, and Western Massachusetts is no exception, with new research happening at places like the University of Massachusetts Amherst, and advances in treatment happening regularly at Baystate Medical Center, which makes this new partnership so exciting. This will benefit the entire Massachusetts life sciences system and keep Western Massachusetts on the map in this critical and growing field,” said State Senator Eric Lesser, who worked to pass the Mass Life Sciences Bill, which funded this grant program, as Chairman of the Committee on Economic Development and Emerging Technologies.

Baystate has long partnered with the Center for Clinical and Translational Science (CCTS) at UMMS-Worcester, Pioneer Valley Life Sciences Institute and the Institute for Applied Life Sciences at UMass-Amherst in the Center for Clinical and Translational Investigation, and the Clinical and Translational Science Institute at Tufts to promote translational research in the western part of the state. Baystate’s Clinical Trials Office (CTO) was launched in 2018 to build upon these research partnerships, as well as relations with industry sponsors to conduct innovative translational research and high-impact clinical trials.

Among the many project objectives – which are also funded in part by a $550,000 commitment from BH in 2019 to develop the Clinical Trials Unit – are to:

  • Create a physical outpatient CTU and outpatient research pharmacy at 3300 Main St. in Springfield and a satellite unit at Baystate Franklin Medical Center in Greenfield. 
  • Establish office and meeting space for research staff and interns.
  • Work with local community colleges to develop internships and programs to ensure a trained workforce in clinical research, including the creation of a Certificate in Clinical Research.

Research To Also Take Place in Greenfield

State Representative Paul Mark of the 2nd Berkshire District noted the important research work that will take place in Greenfield thanks to the grant.

“This state funding will help provide a great opportunity for collaboration among local entities in support of improved community health outcomes, while supporting our local workforce, local academic institutions, and local hospitals,” he said.

Creating a Health Clinical Trials Unit will contribute to workforce development in the Pioneer Valley with the planned creation of dozens of clinical research and research support jobs by 2023.

“We will work with the life sciences degree programs at Springfield Technical Community College, Holyoke Community College, and Greenfield Community College to facilitate training and workforce development from which we can recruit and train qualified research staff,” said Dr. Friedmann.

A Driving Force for New Jobs

State Representative Joseph Wagner, Assistant Majority Leader, noted Baystate Health has been a driving force for employment opportunity and life sciences in Western Massachusetts.

“I am proud to support the innovative work Baystate Health provides to our region, and celebrate as they receive the well-deserved 2019 Life Sciences Capital Grant Award,” he said.

Baystate’s chief research officer noted that potential scientific advances are expected to be achieved in cancer, obesity, fertility, vaccines, neuroscience, inflammation, neonatology, cardiology, pulmonary, and addiction medicine.

“We believe we can achieve a five-fold increase in active clinical trials throughout Baystate Health by 2023, speeding the human testing of these innovate medications, devices, and digital health products,” said Dr. Friedmann.