Honoring History, Looking Forward

This story appears in the Winter 2016 issue of the Life.Giving.Breakthroughs. donor newsletter.

At the beginning of the 20th century, Amelia Peabody was a young Bostonian whose deep empathy and passion for science sparked her lifelong dedication to improving the lives of others.

At the same time, in another part of the city, physicians at the Robert Breck Brigham Hospital, a predecessor to Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH), were discovering the differences between rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis. Their pioneering work established the excellence in care and research for arthritis, autoimmune, and inflammatory diseases that continues today.

These legacies intertwined and continue to advance the future of care for people with these debilitating conditions. Guided by Miss Peabody’s interests, the trustees of the Amelia Peabody Charitable Fund recently granted $250,000 to bolster leading-edge research within BWH’s Division of Rheumatology, Immunology and Allergy.

“Amelia Peabody was extremely interested in advancing medicine and research,” says Caleb Loring, managing trustee of the fund. “The trustees believe strongly in following the donor intent of Miss Peabody, and continuing her legacy. Without question, medical research at the Brigham is very high on our list.”

The fund has supported various BWH initiatives in the past two decades. Its latest grant allowed the division to buy state-of-the-art laboratory equipment capable of processing high volumes of cell samples with exceptional detail. The new machine is the second such machine the fund has helped purchase, now enabling researchers to conduct sophisticated single cell analyses at a multidimensional level.

“The trustees realize that for scientists fortunate enough to receive NIH [National Institutes of Health] funding, the grants may support their investigations but not the equipment necessary to do the job properly,” says Loring.

The increased resolution and power afforded by the new technology helps the team speed up the search for improved therapies and cures for arthritis and related conditions. Division Chief Michael Brenner, MD, is grateful for the role of the Amelia Peabody Charitable Fund in supporting the division’s research.

“We have gained substantial knowledge, completed many studies, and obtained outside funding for projects that would not have been possible without the enduring support of the Amelia Peabody Charitable Fund,” says Brenner.