Pioneer Valley Life Sciences Institute Hits $100M in Federal Funding

SPRINGFIELD — Recent federal support of $1.6 million has pushed the Pioneer Valley Life Sciences Institute (PVLSI) — a Springfield-based partnership between Baystate Medical Center and UMass Amherst — past the $10 million mark in federal funds.

PVLSI has used this funding to create and equip the facility that is now at the center of state-of-the-art biomedical research in Springfield. The investments have provided the physical infrastructure that enables the institute’s work in areas such as breast cancer, diabetes, metabolic disorders, and regulation of the life cycle of cells, and has also led to success in attracting additional support.

“I have been an outspoken supporter of the Pioneer Valley Life Sciences Institute for nearly a decade,” said U.S. Rep. Richard Neal, who has played a significant role in attracting federal support for PVLSI. “This exciting partnership between Baystate and UMass will help benefit health, education, and economic development in Western Mass. and beyond. It also keeps our region competitive in a global economy.

“I am proud to see our local scientific and medical minds gaining national recognition for leading the way in research that is crucial to ensuring a healthy future,” he continued. “The collaboration of Baystate and UMass has great potential, and through PVLSI, they can become a leader in an industry dedicated to improving human health and treating disease.”

The federal funding includes $5 million in funding from the U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), $2 million from the U.S. Department of Defense, $1.23 million from the U.S. Department of Energy, and $275,000 from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. An additional $1.6 million in federal support is in the pipeline this year, with $1 million coming from the Department of Energy and $662,000 from the HRSA. More than 45 people work at PVLSI’s Springfield facility, with another four to six hires planned for the coming year.

“The Pioneer Valley is home to a truly pioneering institution in PVLSI, of which Congressman Neal has been a great champion from the very start,” said Mark Tolosky, president and CEO of Baystate Health. “This cutting-edge collaboration of science and medicine, right here in Springfield, is a tremendous asset for Western Mass. PVLSI brings medical and scientific expertise, innovation, jobs, and investment to the city and to the region. It also supports Baystate Health in its charitable mission to improve the health of the people in our communities.”

PVLSI integrates the clinical expertise of Baystate Medical Center, the largest clinical teaching site of the Tufts University School of Medicine, with the high-caliber research conducted at UMass Amherst. Physicians, life scientists, computer scientists, and engineers team up to understand the molecular mechanisms of human disease in order to develop new diagnostic and therapeutic tools — the real-world applications that reach far beyond the research lab to improve or save peoples’ lives.

“We are profoundly appreciative of Congressman Neal’s visionary leadership in advocating for and securing federal investment in our 17,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art biomedical research facility in Springfield,” said Dr. Paul Friedmann, executive director of PVLSI. “Without that federal funding, our scientists would not be so well-positioned to compete for the grants and contracts they are now winning for research that will be conducted in Western Mass.”

At the institute, added Dr. Lawrence M. Schwartz, PVLSI’s science director, “scientists are focused on breast cancer, apoptosis, diabetes, and metabolic disorders while having the opportunity to work together in an open laboratory that encourages novel collaborations and the formation of multidisciplinary teams. We welcome collaborations with Baystate Medical Center clinicians and UMass Amherst scientists, as well as industry, to engage in projects that will advance knowledge and improve human health.”

PVLSI was created in 2002 as a joint venture of Baystate Medical Center and UMass Amherst with the dual missions of biomedical research and economic development.