Our Mission

The mission of Children’s Memorial Research Center is to generate new knowledge leading to advancements in the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of diseases that affect children's health through adolescence and adulthood. Our multidisciplinary teams of physicians, scientists, technicians, nurses and trainees are committed to making discoveries that will improve the lives of children and their families.

Our History

IntroductionResearch Center main building

Established in 1986 and guided by founding director, Bernard L. Mirkin, PhD, MD, the research center became one of the nation's leading free standing pediatric research entities attracting scientists whose work is supported by prestigious federal and private research funding, and which significantly advances the development of cures for the diseases of children. Soon the fast pace and growth of the research endeavors exceeded best estimates. In 1995, the founders of Children's Memorial Research Center realized their dream when a laboratory structure consisting of 71,000 square feet of space was built on Halsted Street. In 2004 – just one decade since its inception – the laboratory facility expanded to 125,000 total square feet of space.

In 2007, under the leadership of Mary J.C. Hendrix, PhD, Children's Memorial Research Center has become a virtual center for all research conducted by Children's Memorial's investigators – whether they work in the facility on Halsted Street, in the hospital, at Marcey Street, at the Feinberg School, or throughout the community. Research funding for Fiscal Year 2008 exceeded $31 million. To date, the research technology portfolio has 12 patent filings and 41 clinical trials. Notable awards include:

  • a substantial grant from the Illinois Regenerative Medicine Institute for stem cell research; 
  • a public-private partnership involving philanthropist Ann Lurie, the National Institutes of Health, the Howard Brown Health Center, and Children's Memorial to support the Adolescent Medicine Trials Network (ATN) for HIV/AIDS Interventions; and 
  • a generous gift from philanthropists David and Denise Bunning to support a 4-year, multi-site research initiative to study the impact of environmental and genetic factors on children who suffer from food allergies. The initiative is headed by the Bunning Food Allergy Institute at Children's Memorial. 

The Medical Research Institute Council and the MRIC PavilionResearch Center main building

The Medical Research Institute Council (MRIC) was established in 1951 as a private, independent initiative to raise funds for innovative biomedical research. In 1991, the MRIC became affiliated with Children's Memorial, and since that time has raised more than $33 million. The generous support of the MRIC has been responsible for construction of Phase II of the Children's Memorial Research Center laboratory building on Halsted Street in Lincoln Park, endowed professorships for: the president and scientific director, the Neurobiology Program, the Cancer Biology and Epigenomics Program, and the Bernard L. Mirkin Research Scholar. MRIC funding has led to advanced investigations in cancer, heart disease, genetics, microbiology and neonatology.

Strengthening the Research Enterprise

Prominent cancer biologist Mary J.C. Hendrix, PhD, became the President and Scientific Director of Children’s Memorial Research Center in 2004. Dr. Hendrix is the recipient of a prestigious MERIT Award from the National Cancer Institute (NCI). In 2006, she received the Distinguished Woman Faculty Award from the Feinberg School. Scientific objectives of her laboratory include identifying genes that contribute to cancer metastasis, and her major goal is to define important structure/function relationships that provide the biological basis for new therapeutic strategies. She has published over 200 scientific papers and numerous book chapters. An advocate for science and science policy, Dr. Hendrix has testified before the U.S. Congress to increase funding for biomedical research, and serves on the National Institutes of Health's Council of Councils, the NCI's Board of Scientific Advisors, the Research Advisory Panel for the Association of American Medical Colleges, the Board of Directors for the Annenberg Center for Health Sciences, the Board of Directors of Research!America, and the Board for the Campaign for Medical Research. She is the Past President of FASEB (the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology), which consists of over 70,000 members – the largest coalition of biomedical research societies in the U.S. In 2005, Dr. Hendrix was endowed with the Medical Research Institute Council Professorship, President and Scientific Director, Children's Memorial Research Center.