New Endometriosis Center Launches With $3M From Marriott Foundation

After 14-year-old Emily Hatch of Wellesley was treated for endometriosis at Boston Children’s Hospital, her mother, Mary Alice, asked the surgeon what she could do to help researchers find better treatments and ultimately discover a cure for the painful, chronic disorder.

That conversation led to a gift of $3 million from the foundation started by Mary Alice’s grandfather, J. Willard Marriott, to launch the first-of-its-kind Boston Center for Endometriosis, “a joint undertaking to discover causes, promote prevention, and develop new treatments and cures for the disease of endometriosis,” according to an announcement to be released today by Boston Children’s Hospital.

The Center will be the first in the world to both conduct research and treat endometriosis in women of all ages, from adolescence — when the disease often begins — through adulthood, according to Children’s Hospital. The Center will include a unique repository to collect urine, saliva, tissue and blood from patients in order to research potential biomarkers and non-surgical diagnostics, to find new treatments, and eventually a cure.

Emily Hatch saw seven specialists and underwent numerous invasive tests over 18 months to try to figure out what was causing her terrible abdominal pain before she was finally diagnosed and treated at Children’s. Read her full story on CommonHealth here.

More than 6 million women in the U.S. suffer from endometriosis, which occurs when cells that normally grow in the lining of the uterus (endometrial cells) start growing in other parts of the body. The resulting implants or lesions can be extremely painful and if left untreated, the condition can cause infertility.

The Children’s Hospital press release is here:

BOSTON, Mass., April 18, 2012 – Boston Children’s Hospital and Brigham and Women’s Hospital today announced the inception of The Boston Center for Endometriosis, a joint undertaking to discover causes, promote prevention, and develop new treatments and cures for the disease of endometriosis.

The Center is the first in the world of its kind and will serve as the premier diagnostic, treatment, research, and educational resource for the disease throughout a woman’s lifespan, from adolescence through adulthood.

“The Boston Center for Endometriosis is unique in its features,” says Marc R. Laufer, MD, Chief of Gynecology at Boston Children’s Hospital, and a gynecologic surgeon in the Center for Infertility and Reproductive Surgery at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. “Currently, no one in the world has a teen-through-adulthood endometriosis program that can ensure both seamless clinical care for patients while conducting research to fuel scientific progress.”

The J. Willard and Alice S. Marriott Foundation today announced a $3 million leadership commitment to Boston Children’s Hospital to launch the Center and support its research efforts.

The Foundation’s gift will fund the Center’s innovative database and biorepository and the Endometriosis Research Awards program to encourage scientists to participate in the search for a cure. Half of the gift is a challenge grant that is contingent on raising another $1.5 million in research funds.

“The Center, through integration of clinical and scientific disciplines will bring together leaders in the study of endometriosis to advance our knowledge across the life-course through innovations in genetics, lifestyle, and environment to promote long-term health,” says Stacey Missmer, ScD, Scientific Director of The Center and researcher at Brigham and Women’s Hospital.

“Through our Foundation, the Marriott family has tried to make a difference in the world by supporting causes and organizations that share our ideals. Under Dr. Laufer’s leadership, we believe The Boston Center for Endometriosis will improve the future for girls and young women suffering with this devastating disease,” says Richard E. Marriott, Chairman, The J. Willard and Alice S. Marriott Foundation. “We hope that by matching gifts dollar-for-dollar, we will encourage individuals, families and organizations that care about this cause to join us in supporting the Center and accelerating discoveries that ultimately will lead to a cure.”

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