What the Harrington Family Wants: Faster Breakthroughs, Empowered Patients

The Harringtons are your typical great American success story. A couple decides to purchase a medical supply company, nurtures its growth for 20 years and sells it for a reported $850 million. What happens next? The family becomes the largest individual philanthropic donor in the United States in 2012 with its $50 million gift to University Hospitals in Ohio, aptly named The Harrington Project.

Giving away huge sums of money is just something the Harrington family does. In 2008, Ron and Nancy Harrington donated $22.6 million to establish the Harrington Heart & Vascular Institute at University Hospitals. The $50 million gift to the Harrington Project was a family effort between Ron and Nancy, their daughter Jill, son Ron and daughter-in-law Lydia. In the world of averages, each person in the family unflinchingly gave $10 million. The project itself is the marrying non-profit medical research with a for-profit institute to help create a veritable medical research terrarium.   

The Harrington Project makes its home within the Harrington Discovery Institute at University Hospitals. One of the Project's main goals is to bring new drugs to market faster than traditional research methods. These methods tend to be lengthy, and often the potentially life-saving or at least life-altering research is shelved altogether. The other main objective of the project is to create and implement innovative patient treatment therapies inspired by patients.

Doctors and therapists actually considering, researching, and possibly implementing new treatments and therapies suggested by patients is genius because it acknowledges and accepts that not all therapies work for everyone.

The second part of the Harrington project is fostering the growth of a for-profit development company that will make it its live mission to convert the concepts derived from the projects research — and viable therapies suggested by patients, into reality.