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.

The economic promise of an integrated academic health system:

Growing the economic impact of local teaching hospitals through the development of an integrated relationship with Brown University provides an opportunity for economic growth in Providence and Rhode Island.

Based on economic impact projections derived from data from the Association of American Medical Colleges, Rhode Island has the largest academic medicine industry compared with all U.S. states that have only one medical school. As of Fiscal Year 2021, Brown University provides the largest economic impact among all medical schools that are not part of an integrated academic medical center.

By 2035, the potential economic impact of an integrated academic health system in Providence, with Brown as the academic partner and the combined resources of an integrated healthcare delivery system fueled by the merger of the two Rhode Island health systems, totals $5.3 billion annually. 

Doctors Office

Doctors Office

The biomedical sector alone in Rhode Island can grow from its annual impact of $900 million in 2020 to $1.7 billion in 2035, an addition of about $800 million annually to the state’s economy. This is according to peer benchmarking for the creation of an integrated academic health system.

Analysis of the size and scope of academic medical centers in about 50 U.S. markets indicates that an integrated academic medical center in Providence would add 5,954 jobs directly and indirectly to the Rhode Island economy by 2030 and 11,909 jobs by 2035. 

Doctors Office

Doctors Office

An integrated academic medical center in Providence could increase the percentage of statewide employment engaged in healthcare, higher education, and industry from 14.6% of the state’s workforce in 2020 to 18.6% by 2035. The economic consulting firm Tripp Umbach estimates that the total annual Gross Domestic Product of academic medicine in Rhode Island could grow by $3.3 billion, from $8.2 billion in 2020 to $11.5 billion by 2035, driven by an integrated academic medical center.

Growing Providence’s Jewelry District, which is home to Brown’s Warren Alpert Medical School, as a nationally recognized innovation hub will provide the space needed to expand Brown investments in the areas of brain science; medical device design, engineering, and manufacturing; health informatics and data science; human-centered robotics; as well as photonics and high-speed communications. Such expansion will provide the infrastructure to capture significant growth in biomedical industry investment by 2035. External research funding flowing into Rhode Island is projected to grow to about $450 million annually by 2035 with the formation of an integrated academic health system with the Care New England and Lifespan health systems with Brown’s medical school and School of Public Health.

Medical School

Data Note: The economic forecasting consulting firm Tripp Umbach has based its projections on models developed for the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) and updated in 2020, as well as the experiences of other academic medical centers that moved over time from independent relationship with teaching hospitals to fully integrated academic medical centers from 1995 to 2020.

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.