The Abigail Wexner Research Institute

Growing Our Integrated Research Space: Research Building IV to Open in 2023

Come Inside The Abigail Wexner Research Institute

Discovery and innovation drives everything we do here at Nationwide Children's Hospital

Research at Nationwide Children's

The Abigail Wexner Research Institute aggressively supports the discovery of new knowledge and its translation into novel therapeutics and diagnostic tests to advance pediatric research. Unprecedented investment and inspired leadership have paved the way for tremendous progress. The impact on children who previously had little hope has been truly remarkable.

Our investigators traverse the spectrum of pediatric research from discovery science to population health with the common goal of improving the health and quality of life for children and their families. We recruit and train some of the brightest and most innovative researchers and clinician-scientists in pediatrics. Our researchers’ dedication and commitment enable them to work together to accomplish more than could be imagined independently.

Here, discovery, translation and team science aren’t just ideals. They are our foundation as we seek answers on behalf of children everywhere. 

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Research Building IV to Open in 2023, Providing a Solid Footprint for Growth in the Years Ahead

Research Building IV, which began construction in 2020, is anticipated to open in 2023. The new building will add approximately 285,000 square feet to Nationwide Children’s dedicated research space.

“At Nationwide Children’s, we are building world-class research facilities to support our continued growth and success,” says Dennis Durbin, MD, MSCE, president of AWRI. “Our growing facilities will help us to reach our aspirations, of developing new, life-changing therapies and creating the best possible outcomes for children around the world.”

Currently, the Abigail Wexner Research Institute (AWRI) occupies 539,510 square feet of research space across three buildings on the hospital’s main campus.

Research Building I (the Wexner Institute for Pediatric Research) contains 136,580 square feet of research space contiguous with Nationwide Children’s clinical facilities. Research Building II provides 164,016 square feet of additional space, including a 200-seat amphitheater, that is also contiguous with the clinical facilities.

Research Building III, which opened in 2012 and is certified by the U.S. Green Building Council Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) program for sustainable building design, is 238,914 square feet and includes a 75-seat conference facility.

Research Building IV will serve as a companion to Research Building III. The two buildings will be connected through a common entry atrium and on every floor, enabling them to function as one complex where clinical care and research operations are seamlessly integrated.

New Initiative Aims to Improve Diagnosis and Treatment of Children with Solid Tumors Through Molecular Analysis

The National Cancer Institute (NCI), part of the National Institutes of Health, Children’s Oncology Group (COG), and the Biopathology Center and Steve and Cindy Rasmussen Institute for Genomic Medicine at Nationwide Children's Hospital are poised to change the direction of pediatric cancer diagnosis and care. The Molecular Characterization Initiative is a project that aims to collect, analyze, and report clinical molecular data to support clinicians from over 200 hospitals in choosing the best treatment for each child. This program is part of the NCI Childhood Cancer Data Initiative (CCDI).

The molecular data gleaned from this initiative will also be added to NCI’s Cancer Research Data Commons, providing access to these data for cancer researchers worldwide.

Read the full press release.

Dennis Durbin, MD, MSCE, Named President of the Abigail Wexner Research Institute at Nationwide Children’s Hospital

Nationwide Children's Hospital Medical ProfessionalBeginning March 1, 2022, Dennis Durbin, MD, MSCE, who joined Nationwide Children's in 2018 as its first chief scientific officer, became the third president of the Abigail Wexner Research Institute (AWRI) at Nationwide Children's Hospital.

As CSO, Dr. Durbin managed a broad portfolio of research initiatives. He collaboratively led the formation of Andelyn Biosciences; created the hospital’s first chief clinical research officer position, currently held by pediatric surgeon Kate Deans, MD; has supported the recruitment of over 40 new research-intensive faculty; and is overseeing the completion of a fourth research building on the Nationwide Children's campus, scheduled to open in 2023.

Dr. Durbin’s role as president of AWRI will be to establish the vision and strategic direction for the AWRI. A key component of that vision is the further integration of research and clinical care as highlighted in the hospital’s recently announced new five-year strategic plan. In addition, Dr. Durbin will represent the research institute in its ever-growing relationship with The Ohio State University and with the evolving biotechnology ecosystem developing in central Ohio. He will continue to support the recruitment of additional basic scientists, clinical investigators, and behavioral health and health equity researchers to AWRI over the next five years.

Read the full press release here.

Former President John Barnard, MD, Recognized With Lectureship

Nationwide Children's Hospital Medical ProfessionalJohn Barnard, MD, has retired as president of the Abigail Wexner Research Institute (AWRI) at Nationwide Children’s Hospital. Dennis Durbin, MD, MSCE, who joined Nationwide Children's in 2018 as its first chief scientific officer, was named the research institute’s third president.

Dr. Barnard’s impact on Nationwide Children’s and the field of pediatrics during the last two decades was transformational. During his tenure, our National Institutes of Health (NIH) funding awarded to our investigators quadrupled and the amount of dedicated child health research space on our campus tripled. With his vision for growing multidisciplinary research programs, we established multiple research Centers of Emphasis, launched the Steve and Cindy Rasmussen Institute for Genomic Medicine in AWRI, built our first Good Manufacturing Practices facility and established our highly successful Office of Technology Commercialization.

Dr. Barnard’s passion for education and training to help shape the next generation of pediatric physicians and scientists is evident in our residency and fellowship programs where he has championed diversity. Nationwide Children’s has named the keynote presentation at AWRI’s Annual Research Retreat the John A. Barnard Lectureship in recognition of Dr. Barnard’s commitment and dedication to team science, training and education, and the translation of research to benefit patients.

Read more about Dr. Barnard’s retirement in our 2020 – 2021 Annual Report.

The Story Behind Our Name

Abigail WexnerIn 2019, The Research Institute at Nationwide Children’s was renamed in honor of Abigail Wexner, whose ongoing and passionate advocacy ushered in a period of unprecedented transformation at the hospital. During her more than 25 years on the board of directors, Nationwide Children’s grew to become one of the leading pediatric health care systems in the United States, and the Abigail Wexner Research Institute one of the most preeminent centers of its kind.

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 history, including completion of a 12-story hospital building and a third research building, with more than $1.2 billion in regional economic impact.

Read the full press release here.

The Abigail Wexner Research Institute at Nationwide Children's Hospital has a wealth of resources available to our researchers to ensure they have the tools they need to continue our mission of enhancing the health of children by engaging in high quality, cutting-edge research according to the highest scientific and ethical standards.  We invite you to learn more about our resources below.

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The Abigail Wexner Research Institute is dedicated to enhancing the health of children by engaging in high-quality, cutting-edge research to generate novel ideas. For more than a decade, the Office of Technology Commercialization has played an essential role in ensuring these ideas and innovations find their way into the world.

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Research education and training are vital to the mission of Nationwide Children's Hospital and The Abigail Wexner Research Institute at Nationwide Children's Hospital. As a top-ten free-standing pediatric research center and an academic affiliate of The Ohio State University, The Research Institute has an outstanding faculty, dedicated to training and mentoring the next generation of scientists in pediatric research.

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