Kansas City’s reputation as a major center for medical research is getting an important boost.
The money will help build and staff a new nine-story facility where scientists will conduct research into treating childhood diseases. The hospital says the combined $150 million gift is the largest donation ever made for research at a hospital for children.
The gifts are a remarkable and commendable demonstration of faith in the hospital’s mission. Children’s Mercy is already considered one of the better treatment hospitals in the nation, and now it will be able to further explore cutting-edge medicines and therapies to improve health care.
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“We may impact thousands (of children) elsewhere,” said Tom Curran, executive director of the Children’s Reseach Institute at the hospital, in a statement.
The project is also significant in practical terms. The research tower should be finished by 2020 and eventually will provide 3,000 jobs for scientists, assistants and lab technicians.
Construction begins immediately. The facility, which will be built on the current Adele Hall campus, at 24th and Gillham, will cost an estimated $200 million.
The expanded research center won’t operate in isolation. The Stowers Institute continues basic biology research, while other hospitals and the University of Kansas Health System are deeply involved in studying therapies for treatment of cancer and other diseases.
Other health care providers such as Mayo Clinic in Minnesota and the Cleveland Clinic have higher national profiles. The competition for researchers and grants is fierce, and other communities support their health research facilities, too.
But leaders at Kansas City’s hospitals are working to elevate our national profile. The Children’s Mercy project — and the $150 million donation — will help in that effort.
Almost five years ago, Jackson Countians firmly rejected a half-cent sales tax that would have funded so-called “translational” medical research. It would have provided $40 million a year for 20 years to pay for such research, some of it at Children’s Mercy.
Wednesday, Children’s Mercy President Randall O’Donnell suggested voters made the right decision in 2013. “We weren’t ready,” he told The Star.
Instead, to the great benefit of the region and thousands of sick kids, the Hall and Sunderland Foundations have stepped forward. They deserve our thanks and congratulations.