Stepping Strong Co-Founder Audrey Epstein Reny Delivers 2020 Stepping Strong Symposium Speech
Audrey Epstein Reny serves as managing partner at The Abbey Group, where she is involved in overall strategic planning for new development projects, management of the firm’s portfolio, and marketing strategy and implementation. She has led fundraising efforts and run the Boston Marathon to support many local charities, and founded The Gillian Reny Stepping Strong Center for Trauma Innovation at the Brigham, where she also serves on The President’s Advisory Council.
Good afternoon, it is a privilege for me to be here with you all today. It has been so inspiring for me to hear the incredible progress and brilliant ideas that are being explored and pushed forward in partnership with the Stepping Strong Center. As Dr. Matt Carty mentioned, I am the co-founder of the Gillian Reny Stepping Strong Center for Trauma Innovation.
The center was born out of a deep and profound gratitude that my family and I have for the Brigham. We launched this initiative after our precious daughter Gillian was severely injured in the 2013 Boston Marathon bombings. It began as a thank you to the medical heroes who worked miracles to save first her life and then both of her limbs, and in conjunction with our newfound knowledge that: trauma innovation is underfunded despite it being the leading cause of death for people under 46 years old, and that trauma’s staggering cost to society is nearly $700 billion a year.
“The center began as a thank you to the medical heroes who worked miracles to save our daughter’s life and then both of her limbs, and in conjunction with our knowledge that trauma innovation is underfunded despite it being the leading cause of death for people under 46 years old, and that trauma’s staggering cost to society is nearly $700 billion a year.”
Our goal at the Stepping Strong Center is to catalyze multidisciplinary collaborations that inspire groundbreaking trauma innovation, effective prevention, and compassionate intervention, all with the goal of transforming care for civilians and military heroes who endure the tragedy of traumatic injury or traumatic events, like the Boston marathon bombing, or the many other incidents of violence or unexplained tragedies we hear about daily in our news feeds. Our aim is to help others who suffered like Gillian have even better outcomes, so they can get back to living their lives to the fullest. With this lofty goal as our driving mission, we are so fortunate to be a part of the world class Brigham.
I’d love to share just a few highlights of what we’ve accomplished together since our founding nearly seven years ago.
To date, we have raised more than $18.8 million, trained five fellows, started a new Injury Prevention program, funded 29 teams of physician-scientists—many of whom presented their extraordinary scientific progress today—endowed a fund to fuel trauma innovation in perpetuity, and charted a strategic plan to inform the next five years of operation. We are so proud to report that the Stepping Strong Center is making a significant impact on the lives of trauma survivors worldwide.
One of our signature programs is the Stepping Strong Innovator Awards that fueled the content of today’s symposium. Despite the incredible multidisciplinary collaboration that goes into caring for trauma patients, trauma remains an under-funded, under-represented medical discipline. So, the Stepping Strong Innovator Awards program fills this important gap. Our goal with this program is to give out annual $100K awards to physician/scientist teams that encourage scientific collaboration and bring the best and brightest teams together to solve clinical problems in new ways.
“Our goal with the Stepping Strong Innovator Awards program is to give out annual $100K awards to physician/scientist teams that encourage scientific collaboration and bring the best and brightest teams together to solve clinical problems in new ways.”
It was so humbling for me to sit in the virtual audience today and hear how our vision is coming to fruition. The multi-disciplinary and multi-institutional projects that our roster of Stepping Strong Innovator award winners is tackling, is absolutely extraordinary. As a community we are truly building momentum towards our overarching goal of transforming outcomes for trauma patients — and I am so proud of each and every team.
One key aspect of the Stepping Strong Center’s model is to fund new ideas that don’t necessarily qualify for more traditional funding sources with the hope that our researchers are able to leverage their initial findings to then secure significant outside grants. Several of the Stepping Strong researchers have followed this path with great success and have raised in excess of $20 million from DoD, NIH, and others.
I like to say that not only is the Stepping Strong Center committed to translating ideas from the lab to clinical care, but that the way we do it is through a true spirit of collaboration. This spirit of coming together to doing good for others emerged in Boston following the 2013 bombings and became known as Boston Strong. Today Boston Strong lives on in the Stepping Strong Center. Once you win a Stepping Strong Innovator Award winner, we consider you a member of our Stepping Strong family — and we really do mean it!
“Today [the spirit of] Boston Strong lives on in the Stepping Strong Center. Once you win a Stepping Strong Innovator Award winner, we consider you a member of our Stepping Strong family—and we really do mean it!”