Transformative $20.2 million gift from Frank and Barbara Resnek ignites research efforts for rare liver disease
Boston, MA — Brigham and Women’s Hospital announces a $20.2 million gift from Frank and Barbara Resnek to support the launch of the Resnek Family Center for Primary Sclerosing Cholangitis (PSC) Research, the first research center of its kind in the nation. Under the direction of Joshua Korzenik, MD, the Resnek Center will take a multipronged approach to developing new therapies for PSC, a rare, chronic liver disease for which the only effective therapy is a liver transplant.
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 national search for PSC research and treatment options that led them to Korzenik and his team at the Brigham.
“We are exceedingly grateful to the Resneks for their gift, the largest investment in PSC research nationally and around the world. Their generosity will serve as a turning point in PSC research and bring much-needed resources and attention to this rare and debilitating disease,” said Betsy Nabel, MD, president of Brigham Health.
Affecting approximately 30,000 people in the U.S., most of whom are young men, PSC disrupts normal liver function and slowly causes cirrhosis and liver failure. Though the causes of PSC are unknown, this disease is linked to ulcerative colitis—up to 80 percent of patients with PSC also have this form of inflammatory bowel disease.
As principal investigator for the Resnek Center, Korzenik, who also directs the Brigham’s Crohn’s and Colitis Center, has convened a team of clinical investigators and bench scientists in Boston and around the world with expertise in gastroenterology, hepatology, immunology, pathology, and translational medicine. Together, they are exploring the causes of PSC, studying the role of genes, microbiota, environmental triggers, and the immune system, and working to develop and test new drugs that will stop PSC from progressing.
Korzenik said, “Research into rare diseases can be challenging, as it is difficult to find enough patients and samples to conduct meaningful trials. With support from the Resnek family, we can accelerate the timeline for findings that will have the potential to advance therapies for PSC and inform care for other gastrointestinal diseases.”