I am headed to Chicago this morning to attend an open house at the newly named Shirley Ryan AbilityLab. It was formerly known as the The Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago (RIC) — a specialty, non-profit hospital serving patients with the most severe, complex conditions. In March, RIC officially became known as the Shirley Ryan AbilityLab, and it opened its doors to its “cutting-edge research hospital of the same name.”

According to a release issued in March, “currently, 86% of scientific discoveries never make it out of the lab. These discoveries constitute countless approaches, treatments and even potential cures that could save lives, but are never fully or effectively developed.” The unique concept now at the “$550 million, 1.2-million-square-foot Shirley Ryan AbilityLab is the first-ever “translational” research hospital in which clinicians, scientists, innovators and technologists work together in the same space, 24/7, surrounding patients, discovering new approaches and applying (or “translating”) research real time.”

The open house today will also include a live “Out Front Ideas” webinar, which will be recorded on the premises.

According to Joanne C. Smith, MD, president and CEO of the Shirley Ryan AbilityLab, “Science is now at a boiling point, with the convergence of disciplines and discovery — in computer capability, sensor technology, microbiology, pharmacology, material science, brain imaging and tissue engineering. With the design of our new hospital, we’re literally taking down walls to harness this moment and facilitate guided ‘collisions.’ With direct, ongoing exposure to a clinical environment, scientists will conduct research with greater intention, based on the needs of patients that they themselves observe. This model of translational research will change the way people work and the way patients get better, increasing the likelihood that promising research ideas will be converted into viable medical treatments.”

The Shirley Ryan AbilityLab introduces its revolutionary model of care through five Innovation Centers focused on areas of biomedical science with extraordinary promise:

  • Brain Innovation Center 
  • Spinal Cord Innovation Center
  • Nerve, Muscle & Bone Innovation Center 
  • Pediatric Innovation Center 
  • Cancer Rehabilitation Innovation Center

Jude Reyes, chairman of the Board of Directors says,”The Shirley Ryan AbilityLab is the only hospital in the world where doctors focused on solving patient challenges now work side-by-side with scientists focused on finding cures. The result is focused discovery and innovation on behalf of patients, who will be poised to achieve their best possible recoveries here.” 

I am looking forward to today’s event, which has been described as an interactive affair where we will be put through similar paces that the patients experience.

Hope there won’t be pictures. This could be embarrassing. 



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