PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — The boards of Lifespan and Brown University have voted to move forward with an expanded partnership that would include giving the state’s largest hospital group the new name “Brown Health.”

Target 12 first reported Friday that the deal was in the works, and Brown President Christina Paxson confirmed the votes in an email to staff and students at the medical school on Monday afternoon, though she offered few details about what exactly is envisioned.

“The discussions between Brown and Lifespan reflect an ongoing shared commitment to aligning the strengths of both institutions, bolstering the connections between and across delivery of care, medical training and biomedical research,” Paxson wrote.

Lifespan is the state’s largest employer and the owner of Rhode Island, Miriam, Newport and Bradley hospitals. Brown is also a major employer, with a $6.6 billion endowment and the state’s only medical school. The two organizations have longstanding ties, including many physicians who are affiliated with both institutions.

Under the terms of “a new nonbinding term sheet” approved by both boards, Paxson said, Lifespan and Brown would “remain two separate and distinct nonprofit organizations.” She made no mention of the financial ramifications of the potential deal but said the goal is to “strengthen the existing affiliation and licensing agreements.”

“Both Brown and Lifespan collectively aspire to ensure robust health care services and biomedical research in Rhode Island and beyond,” she wrote. She said they are also looking to drive economic development, partly through the state’s newly established Rhode Island Life Sciences Hub, and expand access to care.

The current affiliation agreement between Brown and Lifespan expires on Dec. 31, and Paxson indicated the two sides are looking to flesh out the details of the new agreement over “the coming months.”

Rhode Island’s No. 2 hospital group, Care New England, initially failed to respond to requests for comment on the Brown-Lifespan talks. Paxson emphasized in her email that Brown’s affiliations with CNE and other organizations “remain vital to the medical school’s teaching, clinical care, community engagement and research missions.”

Brown, Lifespan and CNE are also currently in the process of standing up the new Brown Innovation and Research Collaborative for Health, which is supposed to streamline and align their research programs. Brown has agreed to invest up to $25 million in the effort.

Late Monday, a CNE spokesperson said, “Care New England has a distinct, strong, and collaborative relationship with Brown University. Our shared missions and academic leadership enrich the quality and caliber of care experienced by Rhode Islanders. We look forward to continuing our efforts together.”

Ted Nesi ( is a Target 12 investigative reporter and 12 News politics/business editor. He co-hosts Newsmakers and writes Nesi’s Notes on Saturdays. Connect with him on Threads, Twitter and Facebook.