Brigham and Women’s Hospital announced a $25 million gift from Frank and Barbara Resnek to support research into primary sclerosing cholangitis (PSC).
This visionary gift will advance and expand work underway within the Resnek Family Center for PSC Research at the Brigham, which was launched in 2019 thanks to support from the Resneks and has brought together scientists worldwide to study this rare, chronic liver disease. In total, the Resneks have given more than $45 million to PSC research at the Brigham, making them the largest donors to the disease in the world.
“Our family understands the impact of this disease firsthand, and we are committed to rapidly bringing better treatment options and better outcomes to patients around the world,” says Frank Resnek, whose grandson is living with PSC. “There is no better partner in this mission than the Brigham.”
A few years ago, Frank, a partner of Fenway Sports Group, LLC, the parent company of the Boston Red Sox, and his wife, Barbara, a retired family law attorney, conducted a worldwide search for leaders in PSC research. Their search led them to the Brigham, where they established the Resnek Center in 2019 under the direction of clinician-scientist Joshua Korzenik, MD.
“In just four years, we’ve made remarkable strides in better understanding PSC, moving potential therapies into clinical trials, and partnering with researchers around the globe to move the entire field forward,” says Korzenik, who holds the Resnek Family Distinguished Chair in Gastroenterology and Hepatology at the Brigham. “Up to this point, PSC was a neglected disease. The Resneks changed that, enabling us to focus on PSC in a comprehensive way. It’s also allowed us to break down barriers patients can face in accessing clinical trials, including going out to the communities where they live—making participation easier and more equitable.”
Affecting about 30,000 people nationwide, PSC disrupts normal liver function and slowly causes cirrhosis and liver failure. There is no cure, and the only effective treatment for the disease is a liver transplant.
The Resneks’ recent gift of $25 million will allow Korzenik to expand his team, pursue multiple areas of research simultaneously, and apply findings to other liver diseases and to conditions closely linked to PSC, like ulcerative colitis. Korzenik also plans to use the funds to attract new collaborators and pursue additional funding to move the entire field forward.
“We appreciate and value the Resneks’ generosity and commitment as a real turning point for PSC research,” says Robert S.D. Higgins, MD, MSHA, president of the Brigham and executive vice president at Mass General Brigham. “We are proud to be the home of the Resnek Center—which has become an international hub for PSC research—and we are incredibly grateful that the Resneks’ have entrusted the Brigham with their vision for changing the course of this devastating disease.”
The Resnek Center aims to develop more effective, practical therapies—and ultimately a cure—for patients with PSC. The center takes a multipronged approach to investigating potential treatments, exploring strategies that range from diet interventions, to existing drugs already approved for other uses, to entirely new therapies.