Bombing Injury Leads to Stepping Strong Fund, Award
BOSTON—When two homemade bombs were detonated along the course of the Boston Marathon in April of 2013, the lives of three people were taken away and more than 250 others were brutally injured. Sadly, countless victims suffered trauma and the loss of limbs.
One of the many survivors was Gillian Reny, daughter of Steven Reny, president of Andover, MA-based Standard Finishing Systems. Reny, who at the time was an 18-year-old high school senior and aspiring dancer, was among numerous people who were treated at Brigham and Women's Hospital. Thankful for the heroic measures taken by doctors and nurses to save Gillian's life and her badly damaged legs, the Reny family started The Gillian Reny Stepping Strong Fund.
More than $3.5 million has been raised for the fund since February of this year. Stepping Strong takes a three-pronged approach to helping advance innovative trauma technologies, one of which is an award that funds research and development. The inaugural $100,000 Stepping Strong Innovator Award will be presented to one of three research project finalists selected via online voting at www.BWHgiving.org/innovators.
A panel at Brigham and Women’s Hospital reviewed 18 applications from physician/scientist/researchers who are doing cutting-edge work in bone regeneration, limb reconstruction, advanced stem cell technology, orthopedic and plastic surgery, bioengineering and other trauma care area, and then selected three medically viable finalists. The innovative finalists are:
- Dr. Matthew Carty. Dr. Carty's project entails a new surgical approach to lower limb amputation that he believes will enable patients to interface with next-generation prostheses to restore fine movement, sensation and proprioception—in essence, to recover normal limb function. The development of a new operative technique for limb amputation could one day become the new standard of care.
- Dr. Edward Caterson. Dr. Caterson's team is developing a polyurethane wound chamber that completely encloses wounds of all sizes, including the entire extremity. The chamber enables antibiotics to be delivered in ultra-high concentrations—both at the site of injury and the site most at risk of bacterial contamination.
- Dr. Indranil Sinha. The final project, from Dr. Sinha, focuses on using the body’s own stem cells to help muscles heal following traumatic injuries. Major breakthroughs in muscle stem cell research have allowed researchers to isolate muscle stem cells from a small biopsy and help them grow quickly in a laboratory setting. These cells can then be injected back into healing muscle to maintain muscle strength and function.
The voting period lasts until Nov. 20. Visit www.BWHgiving.org/innovators and watch an introductory video from Gillian Reny that highlights the finalists and their innovations. The site also has more detailed accounts of the technologies.
Regardless of which project you vote for, the hope is that these technologies can help future patients with traumatic, athletic and disease-related limb injuries regain their strength and step strong once again. The first step is always the most important.