The mission of Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago Research Center is to generate new knowledge leading to advancements in the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of diseases that affect children's health through adolescence and adulthood. Our multidisciplinary teams of physicians, scientists, technicians, nurses and trainees are committed to making discoveries that will improve the lives of children and their families.
Established in 1986 and guided by founding director, Bernard L. Mirkin, PhD, MD, the research center became one of the nation's leading free standing pediatric research entities attracting scientists whose work is supported by prestigious federal and private research funding, and which significantly advances the development of cures for the diseases of children. Soon the fast pace and growth of the research endeavors exceeded best estimates. In 1995, the founders of the research center realized their dream when a laboratory structure consisting of 71,000 square feet of space was built on Halsted Street. In 2004 – just one decade since its inception – the laboratory facility expanded to 125,000 total square feet of space.
In 2007, under the leadership of Mary J.C. Hendrix, PhD, the research center became a virtual center for all research conducted by Lurie Children's investigators – whether they work in the facility on Halsted Street, in the hospital, at Marcey Street, at the Feinberg School, or throughout the community. Research funding for Fiscal Year 2008 exceeded $31 million. To date, the research technology portfolio has 12 patent filings and 41 clinical trials. Notable awards include:
Children's Research Fund and the MRIC Pavilion
Children's Research Fund (formerly the Medical Research Institute Council) was established in 1951 as a private, independent initiative to raise funds for innovative biomedical research. In 1991, the MRIC became affiliated with the hospital, and since that time has raised more than $33 million. The generous support of the Children's Research Fund has been responsible for construction of Phase II of the research center laboratory building on Halsted Street in Lincoln Park, endowed professorships for: the president and scientific director, the Neurobiology Program, the Cancer Biology and Epigenomics Program, and the Bernard L. Mirkin Research Scholar. Children's Research Fund funding has led to advanced investigations in cancer, heart disease, genetics, microbiology and neonatology.
Advancing the Research Enterprise
Prominent cancer biologist Mary J.C. Hendrix, PhD, became the President and Scientific Director of the research center in 2004. Dr. Hendrix is the recipient of a prestigious MERIT Award from the National Cancer Institute (NCI). In 2006, she received the Distinguished Woman Faculty Award from the Feinberg School. The scientific objectives of her laboratory include identifying genes that contribute to cancer metastasis, and her major goal is to understand the molecular basis of tumor cell plasticity by focusing on the convergence of embryonic and tumorigenic signaling pathways, thus providing new prognostic markers and novel targets for therapeutic intervention. She has published over 230 scientific papers and numerous book chapters. An advocate for science and science policy, Dr. Hendrix has testified before the U.S. Congress to promote funding for biomedical research. She serves on the boards of directors for: Research!America, the Annenberg Center for Health Sciences and the Chicago Council on Science and Technology. Dr. Hendrix served on the Council of Councils of the NIH, the NCI Board of Scientific Advisors, and the Research Advisory Panel for the Association of American Medical Colleges. She is a Past President of FASEB (the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology), which consists of over 100,000 members – the largest coalition of biomedical research societies in the United States. In 2005 Dr. Hendrix was endowed with the Children's Research Fund Professorship. Her faculty appointment is in The Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center of Northwestern University.