Philanthropy Drives Innovation

Philanthropy Drives Innovation
Atul Gawande, MD, MPH

In Greek mythology, the goddess Ariadne showed Theseus how to escape the Minotaur’s maze with a simple thread. Ariadne Labs—founded in 2012 as a joint center for health systems innovation of Brigham and Women’s Hospital and the Harvard School for Public Health (HSPH)—takes a similar approach to the complexities of modern healthcare: It provides compassionate, simple, and practical solutions to guide patients, families, and their caregivers through critical clinical moments.

Thanks to donors such as Bill Helman, Ariadne Labs has grown from just eight faculty and staff members in 2012 to more than 50 today. Helman’s annual leadership gifts have provided critical support for systems innovations to transform safety and quality in healthcare. 

“The generosity of Bill Helman and others who believe in our work enables our highly skilled team to impact health and quality of life around the world,” says Ariadne Labs Executive Director Atul Gawande, MD, MPH. Gawande is a general and endocrine surgeon at BWH, professor in the Department of Health Policy and Management at HSPH, and was recently named the Samuel O. Thier Professor in Surgery at Harvard Medical School.

At Ariadne Labs, Gawande leads associate faculty from across the Harvard community who are actively working to create scalable healthcare solutions in safe surgery, safe childbirth, and serious illness care. Recent projects include developing a strategy to revise the epidemic of cesarean sectional births nationally; designing national performance metrics for primary care systems in low- and middle-income countries with the World Bank; and redesigning cancer care.

Author of four best-selling books, Gawande recently published Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End. Named one of the 10 best books of 2014 by The Washington Post and a notable book of 2014 by The New York Times, Being Mortal explores how medicine can better aid patients and families facing life-threatening conditions and severely impaired quality of life.

“Philanthropy is a vital way of connecting with actions and initiatives that have meaning and purpose,” Gawande says. “Bill Helman’s vision and contributions to Ariadne Labs are critical to our work and make an extraordinary difference.”