Children's Mercy receives $150 million donation for new Children's Research Institute

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Doctors researching cures for childhood cancer, studying ways to use a patient's genes to better treat them, and preventing chronic kidney disease will have a new space for their work in Kansas City come 2020.

Thursday, Children's Mercy Hospital announced its largest, one-time gift ever, which will make building the Children's Research Institute possible. The Hall Family Foundation and the Sunderland Foundation each donated $75 million to the institute. 

“Thanks to the unparalleled generosity of the Hall and Sunderland families, our Children’s Research Institute will allow us to accelerate even more precise diagnoses and treatments for complex childhood diseases, so we can provide groundbreaking care for the most difficult medical cases right here in Kansas City and around the globe,” Randall L. O’Donnell, PhD, president and CEO of Children’s Mercy Kansas City said in a statement. 

The nine-story building is under construction now near 23rd and Locust on the main Children's Mercy campus on Hospital Hill. It is scheduled to open in 2020. 

The hospital said the institute will increase the amount of space it has for research by six times. Once the institute is fully staffed, the research will increase tenfold. The institute will be 375,000 square feet. 

"In a sense, by treating one child here at Children's Mercy, we may impact thousands elsewhere. By learning from our patients, particularly those whose needs are not being met by the existing standard of care, we will constantly strive to move medicine forward. We owe it to our children to be the best, and to provide access to the latest science and technology,” explained Tom Curran, PhD, FRS, the executive director of the Children’s Research Institute in the same statement.  

Research will focus on diagnosing, treating and preventing pediatric diseases. Researchers at Children's Mercy will expand their work on genomic medicine, chronic kidney disease and clinical trials on cancer treatment. 

Certain pieces of the glass-paneled building will be a different color to represent the genetic anomalies of DNA in children with rare diseases, the very diseases researchers will be fighting at the institute.  

In November, voters in Kansas City approved handing over city-owned land to the hospital for this project. 

The Hall Family Foundation is the same family behind Hallmark, the Kansas City-based greeting card company. The Sunderland family founded Ash Grove Cement Company. The nation's fifth largest cement producer is headquartered in Kansas City. 

Children's Mercy shared these interesting facts about the building:

  • 375,000 square feet (the hospital currently has 66,000 square feet of research space)
  • 472 doors
  • 5,514 panels of glass
  • 132,937 square feet of glass, that's more than two football fields of glass
  • 3,000+ linear feet of bench space for research
  • 140,000 square feet of shell space for future growth
  • 400+ seat auditorium

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