Research Support

Brown Biomedical Innovations to Impact (BBII)

The traditional way that biomedical progress is made is to have federal agencies such as the National Institutes of Health (NIH) fund early-stage and clinically applied research. This is done with the assumption that industry will pick up the tab when a commercial application seems viable. However, in recent years the gulf between those two funding stages has become increasingly wide, and tricky to navigate.

The widening gap between what agencies like the NIH fund and what industry funds is referred to as the “valley of death.” Into this gulf steps Brown Biomedical Innovations to Impact, or BBII: a key component of a comprehensive strategic initiative to invest in the University’s biomedical research enterprise. BBII is designed to support research that takes basic knowledge of diseases to a place where it can be translated to a treatment, device, or assay. In bridging that funding gap, BBII creates an environment that fosters faculty entrepreneurship, from discovery to development to commercial viability.

BBII is supported by gifts from donors. Through a competitive process, BITS distributes funding to Brown-based projects that have commercial promise. Supporting and accelerating medical innovations is not only good for patients; it has an important educational component as well. BBII provides real-life scientific and entrepreneurial experiences for Brown students, from the undergraduate through doctoral, postdoctoral, and fellowship levels. Faculty, meanwhile, benefit from mentoring and networking opportunities, the excitement that comes from having an impact on an important disease, and the financial backing to advance their ideas through the development gap.

Learn more about BBII


Karen BullockKaren Bulock, PhD
Managing Director, Brown Biomedical Innovations-To-Impact Fund

Karen has over 20 years of experience in discovery, preclinical, and early stage clinical project management. Prior to coming to Brown, she served as vice president of research at RXi Pharmaceuticals Corporation, where she managed several key programs, including the discovery and preclinical development of RXI-109, RXi’s first clinical candidate. Prior to this role, Karen served as associate director of research at Galena Biopharma, Inc. Over the years, Karen has also led assay development and screening projects to support small molecule drug discovery programs in the fields of metabolic disease and anti-infectives at CytRx Corporation and Essential Therapeutics, Inc. Karen has authored numerous scientific articles and is a co-inventor on 10 patents and patent applications. She received a PhD in pharmacology from Yale University.

As managing director of BBII, works closely with the Office of Industry Engagement and Commercial Venturing to foster entrepreneurial biomedical activities at Brown University. She oversees BBII’s operations to enable the conversion of early-stage biomedical innovations from Brown’s basic and clinical faculty into well-defined product opportunities.