COLUMBUS, Ohio — On Jan. 25, Nationwide Children’s Hospital announced plans to rededicate the hospital’s Research Institute as the Abigail Wexner Research Institute at Nationwide Children’s Hospital. This renaming recognizes 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 centers of its kind.
Wexner’s partnership with her fellow board members, Chief Executive Officer Steve Allen, MD, and the Nationwide Children’s executive team made this evolution possible. In recognition of Allen’s role, Nationwide Children’s will also establish the Allen Distinguished Scholar in Pediatric Research. The Allen Scholar will be awarded to a preeminent Nationwide Children’s senior researcher who exemplifies innovation taking place at the Abigail Wexner Research Institute. The inaugural honoree will be announced later this year and will receive a $100,000 award for their work.
The official rededication will be May 21, 2019. Allen has announced his plans to retire in June, while Wexner will continue her service on the board.
“More than a decade ago, Nationwide Children’s put forth a bold plan to transform this hospital from a strong regional institution into a national leader in pediatric health care and research. Under the leadership of Abigail Wexner and Steve Allen, the hospital has achieved extraordinary goals, becoming an internationally-known pediatric health care and research destination,” said Alex Fischer, board chair of Nationwide Children’s Hospital. “Our success has been possible because of the passion and vision of these individuals, together with our dedicated board and talented leadership team. Their service to Nationwide Children’s will help improve child health for generations to come.”
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, 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.
In nearly 13 years as CEO, Allen helped build Nationwide Children’s into a renowned pediatric research institution, including overseeing an increase from $41.7 million to $81.7 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.
The Abigail Wexner Research Institute is a hallmark of the exceptional momentum of Nationwide Children’s Hospital. The Institute 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 and gene therapy.
“I am extraordinarily proud of the significant impact that Nationwide Children’s Hospital is having, not only on the well-being of Central Ohio’s children, but also the advances in research that support the health of children around the world,” Wexner said. “Impact of this magnitude doesn’t happen without visionary leadership, dedicated staff and a supportive community. It has been an honor to work alongside Dr. Allen and the team and witness firsthand the transformation of this institution. One simply cannot help but be inspired and want to do as much as possible to fuel further advances.”
Under current leadership, Nationwide Children’s created new community partnerships to transform the neighborhood surrounding the hospital’s main campus, including the establishment of the Healthy Neighborhoods Healthy Families initiative. Furthermore, Nationwide Children’s has strengthened and expanded America’s largest pediatric accountable care organization, Partners for Kids.
Wexner was at the forefront of strengthening the central Ohio community’s response to family violence through the successful merging of the Center for Child and Family Advocacy with the Columbus Coalition Against Family Violence to create The Center for Family Safety and Healing on the campus of Nationwide Children’s. Since its inception in 2011, Mrs. Wexner has served as board chair.
The Wexner family has provided crucial philanthropic support for Nationwide Children’s. With their most recent $20 million gift to The Center for Family Safety and Healing, in tandem with funds raised through the New Albany Classic, the Wexner’s cumulative personal giving and philanthropic impact now exceeds more than $80 million. This transformational funding has enabled Nationwide Children’s to expand clinical and research programs as one of America’s premiere pediatric leaders.
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.
“This dedication is a fitting tribute to Abigail Wexner and her tireless vision for advancing the mission of Nationwide Children’s Hospital,” Allen said. “The Abigail Wexner Research Institute has attracted some of the brightest minds in pediatric medicine, and their discoveries have already led to lifesaving treatments. The institute’s continuing work in genomics, gene therapy, tissue engineering and other cutting-edge fields will shape the future of children’s health care. I am honored that the Allen Distinguished Scholar in Pediatric Research will be a part of these far-reaching efforts at the Abigail Wexner Research Institute.”
Additional details for the May 21 rededication events will be forthcoming. A lunchtime dedication event is planned at Nationwide Children’s, and an evening fundraising event will be at the Wexner residence featuring bestselling author Walter Isaacson. Proceeds from the evening event will benefit an endowment fund for the Allen Distinguished Scholar. More details on this event can be found at Nationwidechildrens.org/Giving.
Submitted by Nationwide Children’s Hospital.