Nationwide Insurance Foundation Digs Deep for Pediatric Research

This ain’t your average hospital gift. Usually, it’s, you know, a few million for a new wing of exam rooms, or a surgery suite, or a new tower. Sometimes, the gift is for research. Occasionally, the gift goes to establish a separate fund, a perpetual source of funding the hospital will be able to dip into year after year. That’s what Nationwide Insurance Foundation did last week for Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Ohio: it gave $10 million to establish the Nationwide Pediatric Innovation Fund, designed to support research into cures and treatments for childhood diseases.

Since the beginning, the Nationwide Insurance Foundation has divided its gifts to the hospital between funding endowed chairs and physical expansions, and funding research activities. This is a good thing, because for many health problems, cures and treatments are available for adult patients but not for infant or pediatric equivalents.

For example, research into neonatal stroke languished for years as researchers made significant headway in the 1970s; the problem is only just beginning to be understood now, thanks to experimental research. Nationwide’s funding of infant and pediatric research currently includes gene therapy to treat muscular dystrophy and re-engineering a child’s heart vessels from their own cells. This isn’t just exciting from a clinical perspective, it’s vitally needed in the world of children’s health care.

Nationwide Children’s Hospital CEO Steven Allen understands the importance of Nationwide and the Nationwide Insurance Foundation’s continuing support. “We are one of the world’s leaders in being able to apply gene therapy to children who have life-threatening illnesses, and those might be some of the areas that we would propose to be funded through this innovation grant,” says Allen. “Colleagues often mention to me how fortunate we are to have this kind of support.”

Strategically, the announcement of the establishment of this fund comes just as NCH is gearing up for the start of its high-profile Memorial Tournament fundraiser, a golf tournament that underwrites the operation of the Memorial Tournament Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. Nationwide CEO Steve Rasmussen says he hopes his company’s financial statement will encourage others in the community to donate to the hospital.