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Mass General Research Keeps Strong Patient Focus

Innovation Story

Mass General Research Keeps Strong Patient Focus

Mass General President Peter L. Slavin, MD, says the hospital’s scientists and clinicians work together to ensure that research informs care and vice versa.

Peter L. Slavin, MD
June 5, 2018

At Massachusetts General Hospital, we believe that great medicine is based on great science. That belief is tempered and strengthened by a spirit and a motivation to do the best for our patients. Far too often, in medicine, there is a huge gap between research studies and better patient care. The result of many research studies is simply a paper published in a journal. This is not the case at Mass General. Our scientists and clinicians work together to ensure that research informs care and vice versa. This accelerates progress on both fronts.

Peter L. Slavin, MD, Mass General's president
Peter L. Slavin, MD, Mass General’s president

Mass General optics researcher Guillermo (Gary) Tearney, MD, PhD, has long had an interest in gastrointestinal cancers. Trained as a pathologist, Gary believed the traditional pathological approach for diagnosing disease was inefficient and imprecise. Working with an engineering team, he developed a small capsule that can be swallowed and used to detect Barrett’s esophagus, a precursor to esophageal cancer. This innovative tool has tremendous potential as 80 percent of people with esophageal cancer die within five years.

Transformative Research Advances

Gary is part of the MGH Research Scholars program. Launched in 2011, the program provides exceptional early and mid-career investigators like Gary with the funding to make transformative advances in their research. After a highly competitive selection process, scholars are given $100,000 a year for five years to fund their newest and most out-of-the-box ideas. We select people based on their talent and creativity. Then we give them resources and let them run with it.

The impact of this unrestricted support from visionary donors has been remarkable. Our first 42 scholars have received an additional 277 research grants totaling close to $300 million. They’ve published more than 1,400 scientific papers and delivered more than 1,000 national and international talks, which means that our scholars are not only doing remarkable science, they are sharing it with the world. Amazingly, this group has also been granted 66 patents and has filed for 86 more. This is particularly notable because this is often the first step in moving fundamental discoveries into the clinic.

Read more about the research of Guillermo (Gary) Tearney, MD, PhD

Philanthropy and Talent

It is an exciting and challenging time in science. The average age at which our investigators obtain their first significant grant is approaching 40. That means reaching your potential in science takes time, patience, and certainly, financial resources.

Your broad support for all our programs at Mass General helps us recruit and retain the sort of talented investigators who take part in the MGH Research Scholars program. We thank you on behalf of them and the patients who will one day benefit from their innovative research.

To learn more about how you can support the MGH Research Scholars program, please contact us