The Pilot Projects Grant Program is an important component of the Women’s Brain Initiative. Each year, the Pilot Projects Grant Program will fund three one-year grants. To date, twelve WBI pilot project awardees have been selected. See below for list of awardees.


The 2020 Pilot Projects Grant Program Request for Proposals was issued October 17, 2019. Proposals were due December 15, 2019.  The Program is targeted to junior investigators at the Brigham. Clinical, translational and basic research proposals are encouraged from all medical specialties related to women’s brain health across the Brigham. Awardees will be announced by the end of January.

2020 Pilot Projects


In March 2020, the following awards were announced:

Linda Aglio, MD (Dept of Anesthesiology, Perioperative and Pain Medicine)
Digital Phenotyping to Monitor a Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Pain Prevention Intervention for Women Undergoing Surgery


Harvard Catalyst BIO


Dr Aglio is an associate professor and clinical anesthesiologist interested in surgical pain.  The goal of her project is to develop pre-operative intervention for women about to undergo spine surgery.  Dr Agli will test a behavioral intervention that she hopes will help patients manage their postoperative pain and to reduce the need for prescription opioids.

Amir Maghzi, MD (Dept of Neurology)
Role of Sex Differences on Microbiome-Microglia Axis


Harvard Catalyst BIO


Dr Maghzi is a clinical research fellow in the lab of Howard Weiner, where he studies microglia, brain immune cells that are implicated in many neurodegenerative disorders. In this project Dr Magzhi will study sex differences in the gut microbiome, and their possible effects on microglial function.

Lydie Naule, PhD (Division of Endocrinology, Diabetes and Hypertension)
Roles and Mechanisms of Action of MKRN3 in Female Neural Development and Synaptic Plasticity during Puberty


Harvard Catalyst BIO


Dr Naule is a postdoc in the lab of Ursula Kaiser, where she studies the developmental origin of sex differences using mouse genetic models. In particular she is interested in the brain circuits that control puberty, and the brain changes that accompany puberty and lead to the emergence of sex-specific behaviors in adulthood.

Liqin Wang, PhD (Division of General Internal Medicine and Primary Care)
Investigating Sex Differences in Subjective Cognitive Decline Across Patients Captured in Electronic Health Records


Harvard Catalyst 


Dr Wang is a research fellow in the lab of Dr Li Zhou, where she applies machine learning methods to analyze electronic health records.  In this project she will analyze large numbers of medical records, using natural language processing and billing information to look for for indicators of cognitive decline, including differences between male and female patients.

2019 Pilot Projects

In February 2019, the Women’s Brain Initiative announced the following three awardees:

Rachel Buckley, PhD

BWH/MGH Department of Neurology

Harvard Catalyst BIO

Pilot Project: Investigating the role of tau in female vulnerability to Alzheimer’s disease dementia.

Shadab Rahman, PhD, MPH

Harvard Catalyst Bio

BWH Division of Sleep Medicine and Mary Horrigan Connors Center for Women’s Health

Pilot Project: Sex differences in the effect of sleep interruption on metabolic and behavioral biomarkers of weight gain.

Eduardo Coello, PhD

BWH Department of Radiology

Pilot Project: Uncovering the long-term effect of Repetitive Brain Trauma associated with intimate partner violence.

2018 Pilot Projects


In January 2018, the Women’s Brain Initiative and the Mary Horrigan Connors Center for Women’s Health and Gender Biology announced the following five awardees:

Choi-Fong Cho, PhD

BWH Department of Neurosurgery

Harvard Catalyst BIO

Pilot Project: Blood-brain-barrier organoids to model breast-to-brain metastasis 

Murugaiyan Gopal, PhD

BWH Ann Romney Center for Neurologic Diseases

Harvard Catalyst BIO

Pilot Project: Contribution of microRNAs to gender differences in MS susceptibility 

Pamela Mahon, PhD

BWH Department of Psychiatry

Harvard Catalyst BIO

Pilot Project: Effect of Biological Sex and Sex Hormones on Oxidative Stress in Bipolar

Victor Navarro, PhD

BWH Division of Endocrinology

Harvard Catalyst BIO

Pilot Project: Connecting sexual behavior and reproduction in females: Role of Kiss1 and NKB neurons in amygdala 

Paula Voinescu, MD, PhD

BWH Department of Neurology / BWH Division of Maternal Fetal Medicine

Harvard Catalyst BIO

Pilot Project: Pharmacogenetics influences on lamotrigine clearance in women during different

reproductive phases 

Two of the pilot projects above, led by Drs. Choi-Fong Cho and Murugaiyan Gopal, were designated specifically as Connors Center Women’s Brain Initiative Pilot Grants, reflecting that funding for these two projects is provided by the Connors Center.