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Traditional IGNITE Award

The goal of the Traditional IGNITE awards program is to promote and support early-phase, proof-of-concept studies, in the specific area of expertise of the candidate, aimed at advancing our understanding of female-specific and sex-differentiating factors in the development and utilization of novel diagnostics and therapeutics – drugs, devices, and digital strategies.

One $50,000 award will was distributed in 2022. The award total is inclusive of indirect costs. Applicants must have an HMS appointment and BWH listed as the primary affiliation. 

The application cycle for this award is now closed. Please check back later for the next cycle’s dates.

To access the full RFP and other application materials, please visit our funding opportunities page.

The Connors Center Traditional IGNITE Awards are funded by Jennifer Toolin McAuliffe, our BWH Women’s Health Advisory Board, and other generous donors to the BWH Connors Center.

Current Awardees

Saranna Fanning, PhD
2024 Casey Toolin McAuliffe Memorial IGNITE Awardee
Department of Neurology

“The Parkinson’s disease patient lipidome as a sex differentiator, diagnostic, and therapeutic target“

Although Parkinson’s disease (PD) affects twice as many men as women, several factors associated with clinical course and treatment response differ between women and men. Lack of attention to female patients has resulted in a critical need to focus on this population to improve clinical outcomes. This project will embark on analyzing lipid changes in female PD patient cells and biofluids to determine a female-specific PD lipid pattern that can be used as a disease marker and candidate therapeutic target.

This year’s Traditional IGNITE award is made possible through funding from Jennifer Toolin McAuliffe, co-chair of our BWH Women’s Health Advisory Board.

Pamela Mahon, PhD and Shadab Rahman, PhD, MPH
2023 Connor Center IGNITE Awardees
Department of Psychiatry and Division of Sleep and Circadian Disorders respectively

“Sleep-Related Treatment Targets for Depression in Midlife Women”

Depression affects women at twice the rate as men; current treatments for depression are insufficient with 40-50% response rates and often residual problems with sleep prevent remission. This project will examine new sleep related mechanisms of depression in midlife women, with the goal of identifying new treatment targets and informing personalized treatment approaches to improve depression and functional outcomes.

Paula Emanuela Voinescu, MD, PhD and Regan Lemley, MD, MS
2023 Casey Toolin McAuliffe Memorial Awardees
Women’s Epilepsy Program and Department of Neurology respectively

“Improving outcomes in women with epilepsy during pregnancy using diet-related interventions”

Drs. Voinescu and Lemley plan to examine dietary interventions for treating epilepsy during pregnancy. Antiseizure medications can cause harmful effects on developing offspring, which limits the treatment options for pregnant patients with epilepsy. In this study, Drs. Voinescu and Lemley will test safe, dietary interventions for their effect on seizure control during pregnancy and changes in gut bacteria. The results from this study have the potential to identify new therapeutic approaches and lessen the burden of epilepsy treatment during pregnancy.

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