Business & Tech

Spaulding Rehabilitation Network gets $10 million to create research institute

Named for its benefactors (above), the Scott Schoen and Nancy Adams Discovery Center for Recovery from Chronic Pain will fund the study of treatments for debilitating conditions.
Suzanne Kreiter/Globe Staff
Named for its benefactors (above), the Scott Schoen and Nancy Adams Discovery Center for Recovery from Chronic Pain will fund the study of treatments for debilitating conditions.

Spaulding Rehabilitation Network, whose flagship hospital in Charlestown helped dozens of Boston Marathon bombing survivors recover from their catastrophic injuries, has received a $10 million gift, the largest in its history, to create a new research institute.

Called the Scott Schoen and Nancy Adams Discovery Center for Recovery from Chronic Pain, it will fund the study of treatments for traumatic brain injuries, strokes, burns, spinal cord injuries, and other debilitating conditions.

It will also explore new ways for patients to manage chronic pain without opioids, with the goal of reducing prescription painkiller addiction.

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“These dollars, and what they’ll catalyze by attracting additional donations, will catapult us to the clear leadership position in rehabilitation medicine,” said Spaulding president David E. Storto.

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The donation by Schoen, 58, and Adams, 51, who live in Chestnut Hill, will also be used to expand Spaulding’s research on concussions, which are now the leading cause of disability in children and adolescents in the United States.

“We have had quite a few friends and colleagues over the years who either themselves, or their families and friends, have needed inpatient rehab,” said Schoen, who chairs Spaulding’s board of trustees, “so we’ve had the opportunity to witness people going through that incredible journey of transformation.”

Schoen spent 25 years at the Boston private equity firm Thomas H. Lee Partners, from 1986 to 2011, and is now chief executive of Baylon Capital Management, a private investment partnership in Boston.

The research institute will be led by Spaulding’s senior vice president, Dr. Ross Zafonte, who chairs the department of physical medicine and rehabilitation at Harvard Medical School.

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Founded in 1970, Spaulding has its main facility in Charlestown. It also has hospitals in Cambridge and on Cape Cod, as well as 25 outpatient centers and two skilled nursing facilities. It is part of the Partners HealthCare network.

The Boston Marathon bombings raised Spaulding’s profile by showcasing the importance of rehabilitation medicine. Many of the attack’s survivors spent months at Spaulding recovering from their injuries after being discharged from Massachusetts General, Boston Medical Center, Beth Israel Deaconess, and other local hospitals.

Spaulding was on the verge of opening a new facility in Charlestown, which replaced an older building on Nashua Street, when the attack occurred on April 15, 2013. Twelve days later, Spaulding’s new hospital opened its doors, and several bombing victims were among its first patients.

Ultimately, Spaulding treated 32 survivors of the attack, some of whom remained at the Charlestown facility for months. The last victim to leave, Marc Fucarile, was discharged in August 2013, but he and others spent years receiving continuing care at Spaulding’s outpatient centers.

The Marathon bombing “was probably the first time, on a large scale, that the media followed patients as they were recovering and saw that a lot of work happens on the rehab side,” said Spaulding communications director Timothy Sullivan.

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“A lot of people don’t think about rehab medicine because strokes or brain injuries aren’t something that impacts them,” he added. “But [the attack] was so high-profile and got so much attention that, for the first time, people really understood what’s involved in physical therapy and occupational therapy.”

Clarification: Dr. Ross Zafonte will lead Spaulding’s new research institute. An earlier version of this story said he would lead it until a permanent director is selected.

Sacha Pfeiffer can be reached at pfeiffer@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @SachaPfeiffer.