The Children's Inn

Merck Foundation Awards $14M Grant to Support The Children’s Inn

The Children’s Inn at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in Bethesda, Maryland, has announced that the Merck Foundation has awarded a $14 million grant to support its renovation and expansion. Among the new capabilities that the grant will fund is a respiratory isolation wing to protect young patients with weakened immune systems due to treatment for rare diseases.

“The Inn of Tomorrow would not be possible without the extraordinary support and our longstanding partnership with Merck,” said Jennie Lucca, The Inn’s CEO. “Our reimagined place like home will allow us to serve all pediatric, teen, and young adult patients, regardless of their condition. In collaboration with NIH Clinical Center researchers, we are proud to help support medical breakthroughs that turn hopes into cures.”

The NIH Clinical Center is at the forefront of a new era of promising pediatric research. As the world leader in rare disease research, the NIH is positioned to make significant breakthroughs in treating rare inherited diseases, most of which continue to lack a safe, effective treatment. About one-third of the 1,600 active protocols at the NIH Clinical Center include children. Propelled by advances in gene therapy and cellular engineering, NIH researchers anticipate advanced treatments and even cures for some rare genetic diseases on the horizon.

The Children’s Inn at NIH has embarked on a $50-million capital campaign for The Inn of Tomorrow to redesign, renovate, and expand the existing residential facility, which was constructed in 1989-90. The Inn of Tomorrow will be welcoming and comfortable yet will possess increased adaptability to serve younger patients – a key priority for the NIH Clinical Center in its 2018 strategic plan.

Construction on the project is scheduled to start in winter 2024. Besides the new isolation wing, the expansion phase will feature a new front entrance and lobby in a “Tower of Hope” that will be lit at night to serve as a beacon on the NIH Campus. The Merck Foundation grant, spread over five years, will support these components of the project, as well as contribute to modernizing guest rooms and updating infrastructure in the existing building. When completed in 2027, The Inn will be able to serve 1,700 families each year—expanding its capacity by about 200 families per year.

Including Merck’s initial $3.7 million gift to build The Inn, the Merck Foundation and Merck have committed more than $35 million to support family programs and capital projects at The Inn that aim to reduce the burden of illness, make childhood possible and support the NIH clinical research mission.

“The Children’s Inn has pioneered family-centered care and serves as an essential resource for seriously ill children, teens, young adults, and their families. Since its founding, The Inn has advanced important research to address critical unmet needs—a purpose we share at Merck,” said Robert M. Davis, chairman and chief executive officer, Merck. “I am incredibly proud of Merck’s longstanding commitment to supporting The Inn’s remarkable work to ease suffering and improve the lives of thousands of families from around the world every year.”

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