Nationwide Children’s Hospital Dedicates Abigail Wexner Research Institute at Nationwide Children’s Hospital

Nationwide Children’s also honors retiring CEO Steve Allen, MD, by announcing the inaugural recipient of the Allen Distinguished Scholar in Pediatric Research, Jerry Mendell, MD

May 21, 2019
Abigail Wexner Research Institute Dedication

Nationwide Children’s Hospital dedicated the hospital’s Research Institute as the Abigail Wexner Research Institute at Nationwide Children’s Hospital. This naming recognizes Mrs. Wexner, whose ongoing, passionate advocacy has ushered in a period of unprecedented transformation at the hospital. During her more than 25 years on the board of directors, Nationwide Children’s has become one of the leading pediatric health care systems in the United States, and the Abigail Wexner Research Institute has become one of the most preeminent research centers of its kind.

(COLUMBUS, Ohio) – Today, Nationwide Children’s Hospital dedicated the hospital’s Research Institute as the Abigail Wexner Research Institute at Nationwide Children’s Hospital. This naming recognizes Mrs. Wexner, whose ongoing, passionate advocacy has ushered in a period of unprecedented transformation at the hospital. During her more than 25 years on the board of directors, Nationwide Children’s has become one of the leading pediatric health care systems in the United States, and the Abigail Wexner Research Institute has become one of the most preeminent research centers of its kind.

“Today’s dedication was a celebration of Nationwide Children’s advancement to the forefront of pediatric medical research, but we did not get here by accident,” said Alex Fischer, Board Chair of Nationwide Children’s. “It was because of an unparalleled commitment to putting children and families at the center of every decision, working together in a spirit of mutual respect and drawing inspiration from the bold vision of our leaders. The extraordinary vision and leadership of Abigail Wexner and Dr. Steve Allen have made our achievements possible, and today we dedicate the Research Institute in honor of Abigail and celebrate Steve by creating the Allen Distinguished Scholar in Pediatric Research.”

Mrs. Wexner began serving on Nationwide Children’s board in 1993 and acted as board chair for seven years from 2005 to 2012. During her tenure as chair, Mrs. Wexner led the hospital through the largest expansion in its 127-year history, including completion of a 12-story hospital building and a third research building with more than $1.2 billion in regional economic impact. The Wexners’ cumulative personal giving and philanthropic impact at Nationwide Children’s now exceeds more than $80 million. This transformational funding has enabled the hospital to expand its clinical and research programs as one of America’s premier pediatric leaders.

In partnership with Mrs. Wexner and Nationwide Children’s board, during his nearly 13 years as CEO, Steve Allen, MD, helped build Nationwide Children’s into a renowned pediatric research institution, including overseeing an increase from $41.7 million to $105.9 million in external research awards. Nationwide Children’s is currently ranked fifth in the country for National Institutes of Health funding among freestanding children’s hospitals. The hospital’s annual research budget is now more than $190 million.

“Nationwide Children’s Hospital is a force on behalf of families here and around the world,” said Abigail Wexner. “Dr. Allen’s leadership and vision helped make this possible, inspiring philanthropic support that enables life-changing pediatric research. I am truly thankful for the opportunity to work alongside Dr. Allen and to witness the dedication of compassionate physicians like Dr. Jerry Mendell, nurses, scientists and support staff who care so deeply about the health of children and who save lives as a result of their work. It’s truly inspirational.”

The Wexner Research Institute is a hallmark of the exceptional momentum of Nationwide Children’s, and it continues to grow with a fourth building dedicated to research opening in 2022. The institute currently occupies 525,000 square feet across three buildings on the hospital’s main campus dedicated to basic, clinical, translational and health services research that allows rare investigational opportunities in genomics, tissue engineering, gene therapy and other areas of child health research. Furthermore, Nationwide Children’s, The Ohio State University and The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center have enjoyed an enduring academic relationship built on a shared commitment to excellence in learning, discovery and collaboration.

“Some of the world’s most innovative scientists and talented research staff work on behalf of the Abigail Wexner Research Institute,” said John Barnard, MD, chief of Pediatrics at Nationwide Children’s, president of the Wexner Research Institute and the Ann I. Wolfe Endowed Chair in Pediatric Research Leadership. “Every day, our staff tirelessly strives for new discoveries, better treatments and, ultimately, the best health outcomes for children in Ohio and beyond.”

In recognition of Dr. Allen’s role and upcoming retirement on June 30, 2019, Nationwide Children’s also announced the establishment of the Allen Distinguished Scholar in Pediatric Research. The Allen Distinguished Scholar is awarded to a preeminent Nationwide Children’s senior researcher who exemplifies the innovation happening at the Abigail Wexner Research Institute. The inaugural honoree was announced today as Jerry Mendell, MD, a neurologist and principal investigator in the Center for Gene Therapy at the Abigail Wexner Research Institute. Dr. Mendell received a $100,000 award towards his groundbreaking work in gene therapy to help treat some of the most devastating neuromuscular diseases in children.

“Countless children are alive today because of Jerry Mendell, and he continues to develop life-changing therapies more than four decades into his extraordinary career,” said Dr. Allen. “Nationwide Children’s is a premier academic medical center that can support Dr. Mendell’s efforts because of Abigail Wexner’s leadership. I am honored by the creation of the Allen Distinguished Scholar in Pediatric Research, and there is no better representative of the pioneering work at the Abigail Wexner Research Institute than Dr. Mendell.”

Today’s dedication celebrations also include an evening fundraising event at the Wexner residence featuring bestselling author Walter Isaacson. Proceeds from the evening event will benefit an endowment fund for the Allen Distinguished Scholar.

About Nationwide Children's Hospital

Named to the Top 10 Honor Roll on U.S. News & World Report’s 2019-20 list of “Best Children’s Hospitals,” Nationwide Children’s Hospital is one of America’s largest not-for-profit freestanding pediatric health care systems providing wellness, preventive, diagnostic, treatment and rehabilitative care for infants, children and adolescents, as well as adult patients with congenital disease. Nationwide Children’s has a staff of more than 13,000 providing state-of-the-art pediatric care during more than 1.5 million patient visits annually. As home to the Department of Pediatrics of The Ohio State University College of Medicine, Nationwide Children’s physicians train the next generation of pediatricians and pediatric specialists. The Abigail Wexner Research Institute at Nationwide Children’s Hospital is one of the Top 10 National Institutes of Health-funded freestanding pediatric research facilities. More information is available at NationwideChildrens.org.