Two Foundations To Help Fund Expanded Children’s Mercy Research Institute In Kansas City

Jan 11, 2018

The Hall Family Foundation and the Sunderland Foundation are donating $75 million each to help fund a new expanded home for Children’s Mercy’s Children’s Research Institute.

At an event Thursday morning, Margaret Hall Pence, director of the Hall Family Foundation, and Kent Sunderland, president of the Sunderland Foundation, announced the $150 million in gifts, and Children's Mercy showed plans for the institute’s new nine-story facility, which will be built on Hospital Hill in Kansas City, Missouri.

“It’s inspirational,” says Dr. Tom Curran, executive director of the Children’s Research Institute. “The key to successful translational science is collaboration and teamwork. And seeing this level of partnership with two different foundations really sends a message: that’s what we need to do moving forward."

Originally a pediatric hospital, Children’s Mercy’s recent research has focused on genomic medicine, pediatric cancer and translational medicine.

“Those areas of excellence were a little sporadic,” says Curran. “And there was no overarching structure that would help bring those together and really increase the communication between scientific research and the delivery of healthcare.”

Curran says the expansion will help grow and coordinate its research, building on efforts that started with the establishing of the Children’s Research Institute in 2015.  

When completed, the new facility will increase Children’s Mercy space for research by 375,000 square feet — six times the size of the current research facility. It will employ 3000 researchers — 15 times the hospital’s current research staff — when fully staffed.

The building will be built on top of an existing hospital garage in the northwest corner of Hospital Hill.

Its mostly blue glass façade will feature several multi-colored windows, representing some of the rare genetic anomalies that will be researched inside the facility.

Curran says building construction will cost $200 million, and initial construction costs will be funded by approximately $125 million dollars in bond funding from the Missouri Health & Education Facilities Authority.

The Sunderland gift is dedicated toward additional construction costs, and the Hall Family Foundation’s gift will fund researcher recruitment.

Construction will begin immediately. Curran says the building will be completed in early 2020.

Alex Smith is a health reporter for KCUR. You can reach him on Twitter @AlexSmithKCUR.