And the winners are…
When the Reny family established the Gillian Reny Stepping Strong Fund in February 2014, their overarching goal was to help patients with traumatic limb injuries regain their strength and step strong once again. Now, just 10 months later, the fund has already made a significant difference, raising $3.6 million and allocating more than $1.2 million to trauma research at BWH—most recently through the Stepping Strong Innovator Awards competition.
The winners of the inaugural Stepping Strong Innovator Awards, Matthew Carty, MD, and George Dyer, MD, each received $100,000 grants after a rigorous four-month process that included an international, public voting competition and a privately judged, closed-door session on November 20 and December 1, respectively.
Pictured above: Stepping Strong Innovator Awards funders David and Betsy Epstein, George Dyer, MD, Ara Nazarian, PhD, Audrey Epstein Reny, and Steven Reny.
Carty’s project, Recovering Limb Function: A New Surgical Approach for the 21st Century, is a new approach to lower limb amputation that will enable amputees to interact with next-generation prostheses in a way that will restore normal limb functions of fine movement and sensation. By incorporating techniques of complex reconstructive surgeries, Carty’s team developed a procedure that converts the traditional passive lower limb stump into an active appendage directly controlled by the central nervous system.
In accepting the award on November 20, a delighted Carty noted, “This kind of work happens every day at the Brigham, and I feel incredibly lucky and honored to be part of this community.” His project is a collaboration among plastic, orthopedic, and vascular surgeons from Brigham and Women’s Hospital, along with biomechatronics experts from the MIT Media Lab.
Dyer’s project, Repairing Large Traumatic Fractures: Using Silk-Based Orthopedic Implants to Promote Healing, focuses on a new way to accelerate bone healing using fully degradable, silk-based surgical repair rods and bioactive molecules. The hope is this surgical approach will ultimately replace metal alloys, the current standard for large traumatic defect repair, with degradable devices—thus minimizing the need for second surgeries and improving outcomes for trauma patients.
Dyer eloquently thanked the panelists for choosing his project, declaring, “This has been a remarkably rewarding experience, and I want to thank the Renys for creating such a fruitful environment for collaboration.” Dyer’s collaborators include David Kaplan, PhD, and Ara Nazarian, PhD.
The Reny family established the Gillian Reny Stepping Strong Fund to honor the doctors and nurses who saved the life and limbs of their daughter Gillian in the aftermath of the 2013 Boston Marathon bombings. Heartfelt thanks to Audrey, Steven, Danielle, and Gillian Reny for their vision and passion, and to the donors who made the two Stepping Strong Innovator Awards possible: Stephanie and John Connaughton and David and Betsy Epstein.