Medical research in the Ocean State received a welcome boost after the Rhode Island Foundation awarded almost $340,000 in seed funding to 16 promising research projects.


The Foundation, which has awarded nearly $2.5 million in medical research seed funding since 2008. The grants are to support early-career researchers in Rhode Island develop projects. Additionally, the goal is to allow these development project t0 compete for national funding.


As part of the awards, projects to tackle chronic Lyme disease, lung cancer, and leukemia as well as lesser known but potentially serious conditions such as Powassan disease will receive grants.


One beneficiary is The Miriam Hospital in Providence, which will receive $16,000 for a project to work with patients at the hospital’s Lifespan Lyme Disease Center coping with chronic Lyme disease. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Rhode Island has the fifth highest incidence of Lyme disease nationally after Maine, Vermont, Pennsylvania, and New Hampshire.


The project will aim to “generate pilot data that will inform a framework for future behavioral interventions” in tackling post-treatment symptoms in Lyme disease patients, according to lead research scientist Sara Vargas.


In addition, grant recipients include Brown University, Rhode Island College, Rhode Island Hospital, and The University of Rhode Island. The funding is made possible through 20 endowments at the foundation.


“We are grateful that our generous donors provide the crucial source of seed funding that enables local researchers to pursue promising medical advances,” said Neil D. Steinberg, president and CEO of the Rhode Island Foundation. “Our hope is that their successes will bring about healthier lives as well as a healthier economy.”


Established in 1916, the Rhode Island Foundation is the largest funder of non-profit organizations in the state.