Redesigning Trauma Care
The Gillian Reny Stepping Strong Center for Trauma Innovation

A traumatic injury can happen to any one of us, in any place, and at any time. According to the Centers for Disease Control, traumatic injury is the leading cause of death for people 46 years of age and under in our country, ahead of both cancer and heart disease. Despite these statistics, there remains inadequate resources to manage traumatic injuries and the specialized care they require.

While cheering on runners with her parents and waiting for her sister at the finish line of the 2013 Boston Marathon, life changed in an instant for Gillian Reny. She suddenly found herself, along with hundreds of others that day, critically injured and fighting for her life after two bombs exploded near the finish line.

With critical injuries and a significant soft tissue injury to her left leg, Gillian was rushed to Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, where the doctors and nurses were miraculously able to save her life and both of her legs.

"The moment the ambulance arrived at Brigham and Women's Hospital, following the chaos at the Boston Marathon finish line in 2013, I felt safety, love, and true compassion. No words will ever fully express my gratitude to the doctors and nurses who saved my life and legs." -Gillian Reny

Grateful for the exceptional care Gillian received, the Reny’s wanted to give back to the team of doctors and nurses who cared for her. Recognizing that trauma research and care is still an under-represented and underfunded medical field, the Reny’s set out to raise funds to help advance the doctor’s work and research.

With the overwhelming help and support of family, friends, and those inspired by Gillian’s story, the Gillian Reny Stepping Strong Center for Trauma Innovation was created in 2014. Through raising funds and offering grants to innovative physicians and researchers, the Center helps sustain the advancement of promising trauma research that will aid others facing traumatic injury.

In 2017, the Brigham celebrated the opening of The Gillian Reny Stepping Strong Center for Trauma Innovation in the newly constructed Hale Building for Transformative Medicine.

Developed by Brigham and Women’s and NBBJ, the Hale building was designed to be a physical hub, bringing Brigham’s preclinical and clinical cutting-edge research laboratories together to encourage multidisciplinary collaboration in trauma research.
“Traumatic injury is a leading cause of death in America, and there was no center in the country that was focused on traumatic injury across departments in this way. The innovation center is building an infrastructure around the research to help it reach patients more effectively and rapidly.”  -Nish Acharya, MPA, program director at the Stepping Strong Center.

With a flexible floor plan that creates adjacencies to maximize collaboration between diverse disciplines, the laboratory design enables researchers to learn what each other are working on and source new ideas. This model of integration of clinicians has helped the Stepping Strong Center in the realization of their goal to quickly take laboratory discoveries and apply them directly to treatments for patients at the Brigham.


What initially began as a small group of family and friends expressing gratitude for a team of Brigham doctors and nurses has evolved into a community of 21 research teams, 110 Stepping Strong Center-affiliated faculty, and over 18,000 local supporters, according to the Center.

“The greatest strength of the Stepping Strong Center is the fact it’s been this all-inclusive, multidisciplinary body. Our biggest achievement is bringing people together to help trauma patients, which I think is extraordinary." - Ali Salim, MD, medical co-director of the Stepping Strong Center and chief of the division of Trauma, Burns, and Surgical Critical Care.

Interested in reading more? For more information about the Stepping Strong Center or to make a donation, please visit their website.


Early signs of spring are all around us. For me, this time of year is always one of rejuvenation … and spring cleaning! Hopefully you were able to join us for the March CEU: Spring Cleaning Your Library with Mindful Materials. After a very difficult year, we are returning to some normalcy within IIDANE and offering again our annual Business Leaders Breakfast on April 8 th after being cancelled in 2020. Though we are virtual for this event, it is an opportunity to recognize talented designers and leadership within our community, make some connections, learn and have fun. 

Earthday celebrates it’s 51st year on April 22 nd with the theme “Restore Our Earth” focusing on emerging green technologies and climate action. Research into green technology has a fundamental impact on both the health of our planet and our bodies. We are fortunate in New England to be home to so many research and lab facilities as well as leading medical centers and healthcare environments. 

As a Healthcare Interior Designer for over 20 years, it has been my role to ensure the health, safety and welfare of patients, staff and visitors in hospitals, clinics and care facilities; bringing knowledge, innovation and peer reviewed research to the process to improve patient outcomes. There is mounting evidence that draws the connection between well designed spaces and the healing process. The application of appropriate materials and finishes, artwork, and artificial and natural daylighting aid in healing and contribute to overall improved patient experiences and staff satisfaction and retention. 

The incorporation of biophilic or natural elements in our environment is proven to aid in healing and wellbeing. This type of Evidence Based approach extends far beyond healthcare spaces and into the domain of Population Health – the spaces in which we live, work and heal. Please join us for the April 27th Professional Development CEU: Designing Workspaces that Foster Natural Connection. All Interior Design has an impact on our health, safety and wellbeing in one way or another.


Be Well & Stay Healthy,

Nico Flannery-Pitcher, IIDA, EDAC
President, IIDA NE Chapter 

Be sure to check in with the IIDA New England calendar for upcoming virtual events offered in our community. Here's a sneak peek at some upcoming events:

Also, be sure to keep an eye on our IIDA New England job postings, which are updated regularly!



 Did you know Copley Wolff and Perkins + Will collaborated on a therapy trail outside of Spaulding Rehab Hospital in Charlestown, MA? This therapy trail was designed so patients could practice a variety of real world challenges within a safe and controlled environment. It consists of varied walk slopes and walking surfaces, granite stairs and curbs, distance markers, and interpretive elements for physical conditioning and tactile, sensory opportunities.

 Check out the list of IIDA New England Emerging Leaders Class of 2020!

Do you have an idea that you would like to share with the design community or see highlighted here in The Wire? Send your ideas to [email protected]