The Nationwide Foundation announced a new $10 million gift to support the Nationwide Foundation Pediatric Innovation Fund at Nationwide Children’s Hospital to help accelerate research and clinical discoveries. Since its start in 2014, the Nationwide Foundation Pediatric Innovation Fund has contributed $50 million, including the announcement of today’s gift.
This most recent donation brings cumulative donations from Nationwide Foundation to Nationwide Children’s Hospital to $100 million. The Fund has supported several clinical and research efforts in genomics, heart health, neonatology and injury prevention. In the future, plans are being developed to expand support for pediatric cancer research.
With the help of the Innovation Fund, world-renowned genomics researchers Richard K. Wilson, Ph.D. and Elaine R. Mardis, Ph.D. were recruited in 2016 to lead the Institute for Genomic Medicine (IGM) in The Research Institute at Nationwide Children’s Hospital. Since their arrival, Mardis and Wilson have worked with clinicians in different subspecialties to introduce innovative genomics-based testing and have initiated new research efforts in several disciplines. Established in 2016, the IGM continues to focus on genomics as the root cause of many childhood diseases and remains one of the few programs in pediatric personalized genomic medicine in the U.S.
The support provided by the Nationwide Foundation Pediatric Innovation Fund has enabled over 250 families to receive clinical genomics testing. In several cases with children with complex and previously undiagnosed conditions, answers were provided. Additionally, over 50 children with cancer have been evaluated by genome sequencing to identify tumor-specific vulnerabilities that represent potentially new treatment directions.
Through this continued support, IGM will be able to offer these tests to more patients and their families in the upcoming year. Epilepsy and other seizure disorders, behavioral health disorders and infectious diseases are just some of the new focus areas for genomic research and clinical testing. IGM has already grown to 120 employees working in clinical testing, technology development/validation and research projects, and Nationwide continues to identify and recruit outstanding staff.
“The Nationwide Foundation has a longstanding commitment to helping the hospital provide top-ranked clinical care for children in our communities,” said Nationwide CEO and Nationwide Foundation Chairman Steve Rasmussen. “Our partnership supports efforts to attract world-renowned doctors and researchers who are making significant strides with innovative medical treatment for children around the world. The advances being made in genomic research are potentially life-changing, and it’s heartening to know that many children and families will benefit from this work.”
Nationwide Foundation support has also enabled the establishment of endowed chairs for Wilson and Mardis as both are named Nationwide Foundation Endowed Chairs in Genomic Medicine. For clinicians and researchers working in academic-medical institutions like Nationwide Children’s Hospital, endowed chairs represent the most prestigious and significant recognition of their work. Additionally, endowed chairs enable Nationwide Children’s Hospital to recruit and retain world-renowned talent.
“We are honored by the Nationwide Foundation’s ongoing support and its dedication to innovative research and clinical discoveries that will have an impact across the globe,” said Steve Allen, MD, Nationwide Children’s Hospital CEO. “Their continued commitment has enabled Nationwide Children’s to become a pioneer in genomics, accelerating the next generation of diagnoses and treatment. The future of pediatric medicine is brighter because of the Nationwide Foundation.”