Touched by Tragedy, Family Advances Trauma Care

Since 2014, thousands of donors worldwide have contributed more than $13 million to fund trauma research at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and launch The Gillian Reny Stepping Strong Center for Trauma Innovation.

From the beginning, Betsy and David Epstein have been staunch supporters. They were inspired by the care their grandniece Gillian received at BWH after sustaining severe injuries to her legs in the 2013 Boston Marathon bombings.

“When this tragedy happened, David and I wanted to embrace our niece Audrey and her family all in one big hug,” says Betsy.

“Becoming involved with Stepping Strong has been a way for us to thank the BWH doctors who saved Gillian’s life and to honor her resilient spirit.”

Betsy and David have contributed more than $350,000 to the effort. Their generosity has named a conference room in the center and funded research led by George S. Dyer, MD, who is investigating silk-based orthopaedic implants that can promote bone healing in trauma patients. Betsy and David are also members of the Stepping Strong Advisory Board, a group of business leaders and philanthropists who provide strategic guidance on programming, fundraising strategies, and collaboration with the medical community.

“Betsy and I wanted to help the Reny family create something positive out of something challenging,” says David. “Our goal is to enable physician-researchers to accelerate trauma research and help patients benefit from new discoveries and techniques.”

“Stepping Strong has grown by leaps and bounds in a short amount of time, and we’re grateful to be part of it,” adds Betsy. “I think it’s a good synergy—what the Renys and the Epsteins have done for the Brigham is wonderful, and the Brigham doctors have built such an outstanding program.”