Brown’s Impact on Health and Medicine in Rhode Island

Economic Development

Attracting federal grants that spur biotech investment and jobs.

Across the country, academic medical centers facilitate major capital investments and coordinate with payers to create a high-quality network of primary and specialty care. With Brown as the academic partner, an integrated academic medical center in Rhode Island is positioned to have a major biomedical industry impact. Brown contributes to Rhode Island’s economic development by attracting federal grants and commercial investments in biomedical and health research and innovation.

Health sector investments contributing to RI’s medical economy:

Academic medicine in Rhode Island — as defined by medical schools, all hospitals with teaching programs, and the biomedical industry — generates $5 billion annually in the state’s economy. This is according to models developed by the economic forecasting firm Tripp Umbach for the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) and updated in 2020.

$210.2 million in grants

In FY20, grants to Brown’s Division of BioMed and the affiliated teaching hospitals totaled $210.2 million.

66% increase in research grants

In total, Brown's external research grants over a recent five-year period, from FY16 to FY21, increased 66% across all academic divisions — including BioMed, Public Health, and Engineering, such as biomedical engineering, etc. — from $180.9 million to $299.7 million.

50% of RI’s higher education economy

Brown University’s Warren Alpert Medical School, School of Public Health and biomedical engineering department make up more than 50% of Rhode Island’s higher education economy.

Examples of biotech activities launched from Brown:

Brown researchers have the capacity to work with industry and investors to move discoveries out of the lab and create the drugs and treatments for the patients who need them most.

Bolden Therapeutics Logo

Bolden Therapeutics is a Brown startup that develops therapeutics to promote neurogenesis in patients with diseases that affect cognition, such as Alzheimer’s. Bolden has licensed several patents produced from Brown University faculty inventors. In October 2021, Bolden received a $500,000 Small Business Technology Transfer Grant from the National Institutes of Health. The projects funded by the SBTT grant will be completed in collaboration with the labs of Justin Fallon, PhD, Department of Neuroscience, and Ashley Webb, PhD, Department of Molecular Biology, Cell Biology and Biochemistry. The work of Fallon and Webb has identified molecular pathways whose activity stimulates neurogenesis. Bolden plans to develop therapeutics that could promote neurogenesis and improve memory in Alzheimer’s patients.

Circadian Positioning Systems Logo

Circadian Positioning Systems (CPS) designs programmable lighting systems to manipulate biological sleep-wake rhythms in response to the demands of external environments (for example, helping a person on the night shift feel awake enough to work). CPS is currently working with the U.S. Department of Defense to help Marines manage their fatigue during training. CPS grew out of support from Advance-CTR, a statewide hub of research resources and services for clinical and translational investigators in Rhode Island. The Brown researchers that developed CPS secured a patent on their idea, a research grant from the National Science Foundation, and were accepted into an incubator program for science and technology start-ups. 

Ocean Biomedical Logo

Ocean Biomedical is a new company built around new therapeutics for lung cancer from the lab of Dean Jack A. Elias, MD, and a new vaccine for malaria from the lab of Jonathan Kurtis, MD, PhD. A third asset focuses on treatments for inflammation developed at Stanford University. Ocean Biomedical is different from typical startups in that it aims to develop assets at earlier stages, move them along the process, and send them out as new companies. 

Brown University Logo

Brown Biomedical Innovations to Impact (BBII) is a translational commercial development initiative. BBII manages an academic accelerator fund dedicated to supporting academic biomedical technologies — with potential for high impact — to become well-defined product opportunities that are attractive to industry partners and investors. ​ 


The vision for bringing Brown together in collaboration with the Care New England and Lifespan health systems to create an integrated academic health system will create significant new opportunities for fueling economic development through biomedical innovation.