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The broad goal of the IGNITE Awards program is to ensure that medical advances are optimized for the health of women through scientific investigation. These awards aim to advance our understanding of the role of female-specific and sex-differentiating factors across different stages of the drug and device development process, from target identification to post-approval monitoring and uptake in the community, as well as in the development and optimization of novel diagnostics and digital strategies. Specifically, the IGNITE Awards program aims to promote and support research projects that focus on:

  1. Uncovering sex-specific and sex-differentiating factors that may affect the efficacy, tolerability, safety, acceptability, and uptake of novel therapeutics;
  2. Identifying female-specific and sex-differentiating factors that may represent novel therapeutic targets or disease biomarkers;
  3. Developing and/or optimizing diagnostics in a sex- and gender-informed fashion;
  4. Examining innovative and effective approaches to include and retain women in early-phase development of drugs, devices, and digital diagnostics and therapeutics.

IGNITE investigations are important components of the Connors Center’s First.In.Women® Precision Medicine Platform. First.In.Women is a translational research platform that is advancing the inclusion and specific investigation of women in studies of the development and utilization of new drugs, devices, digital diagnostics and therapeutics to produce sex-specific knowledge about treatments for both women and men. First.In.Women is a go-to hub for national efforts to advance our investigation of sex as a biological variable in relation to novel diagnostics and therapeutics.

For the 2023-2024 academic year, the Connors Center is supporting three IGNITE awards for investigators who are primarily affiliated with Brigham and Women’s Hospital. In addition to the Casey Toolin McAuliffe IGNITE Award, generously funded this year by Jennifer Toolin McAuliffe, co-chair of our BWH Women’s Health Advisory Board, we will be featuring two Specialized IGNITE Awards: one Cardiac and Vascular IGNITE Award focused on sex- and gender-differences in cardiac and vascular diseases, and one Breast Cancer Research IGNITE Award which supports innovative early-phase, proof-of-concept investigations related to breast cancer. These Special IGNITE awards were established through the generous gifts made by the Scott Schoen and Nancy Adams Research Fund in Women’s Vascular Disease and the Gayle Brinkenhoff Memorial Fund from the Philanthropy Division of RevitaLash Cosmetics respectively.

Additionally, the Connors Center is pleased to support the BWH-MGB Collaborative IGNITE Award. To be eligible for this award, investigators from Brigham and Women’s Hospital are expected to collaborate with an investigator from another MGB institution on a joint project. Translational projects and/or projects combining different study methodologies are particularly welcome.

The IGNITE Awards are made possible through generous contributions from Jennifer Toolin McAuliffe, our BWH Women’s Health Advisory Board, Scott Schoen and Nancy Adams Research Fund in Women’s Vascular Disease, the Mass General Brigham Office of the Chief Academic Officer, and other generous donors to the BWH Connors Center.

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