MUSC, CofC to Tackle Gender Disparities in Biomedical Innovation With New Program


The Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) and the College of Charleston have been awarded an Innovative Program to Enhance Research Training (IPERT) grant totaling $2.4 million from the National Institute of General Medical Sciences. The grant will be used to establish the STEM-Coaching and Resources for Entrepreneurial Women (CREW) program, with the aim of increasing the number of women entrepreneurs in the medical science field. STEM stands for science, technology, engineering and math.

The initiative will be led by Carol Feghali-Bostwick, the Kitty Trask Holt Endowed Chair for Scleroderma Research and director of the Advancement, Recruitment and Retention of Women (ARROW) program at MUSC. Angela Passarelli, associate professor of management in the College of Charleston School of Business and director of research at the Institute of Coaching at McLean/Harvard Medical School, will be director of coaching. MUSC’s Tammy Loucks, science development officer for the South Carolina Clinical & Translational Research Institute, will serve as communications director. Jesse Goodwin, chief innovation officer at MUSC, will support the invention disclosure and entrepreneurship processes. Jillian Harvey will lead program evaluation efforts and Rachel Simmons will be the program coordinator.

“Studies have shown that women start companies with 50% less money and raise 66% less capital than their male counterparts,” says Goodwin. “There are a lot of hypotheses as to why this divide exists, and it includes things like implicit bias as well as the willingness of women to seek funds within their own network of contacts. These are barriers to success for women who have already decided to pursue entrepreneurship. The CREW program hopes to address both through coaching, mentorship and other programmatic support.”

The STEM-CREW program will look to address an imbalance in the number of women entrepreneurs in biomedical sciences. For a period of one year, CREW participants will be partnered with both an accomplished biomedical entrepreneur for mentorship and a professional coach, and will engage in individual and group mentorship and coaching sessions monthly. In addition, participants will complete entrepreneurship mindset surveys, an online entrepreneurship course and training in responsible conduct of research and, lastly, provide feedback and evaluation of the program.

“Coaching provides a confidential relationship, dedicated time and a skilled thought partner that helps aspiring entrepreneurs step back from their day-to-day responsibilities to explore what they most want to achieve, who they are, what’s standing in their way and how to navigate a path to achieving their objectives,” says Passarelli.

The program will initially focus its efforts on South Carolina, but will later invite applications from women in other states in the region with historically low levels of research funding. Current applications are being accepted through Nov. 30, 2022. To apply, please visit Applications will be reviewed, and those accepted for the limited spots available will be notified by December. Participation begins in January 2023.

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