Ryan Gibson Foundation Gives $500,000 to meet Arkansas Children’s Research Institute Challenge

Photo credit: (Left to Right) Hook Harmeling, Dr. Greg Kearns, Derek Gibson, Dillion Gibson, Brookelyn Gibson, Kayman Harmeling and Sawyer Harmeling.

(Springdale, AR) April 14, 2017— The Ryan Gibson Foundation is giving $500,000 to fund the new precision medicine program at Arkansas Children’s Research Institute. Specifically, the gift will further cancer research within the precision medicine program.


“Precision medicine uses information from a given to design a medical plan for an individual based on his or her environment, lifestyle, health condition and genetic makeup,” said Greg Kearns, PharmD, PhD, Chief Research Officer for Arkansas Children’s and President of the Arkansas Children’s Research Institute. “The goal of precision cancer medicine in conditions such as cancer is to customize treatments by tailoring them to the genetic characteristics of not only a patient but in some circumstances, the genetic code which is characteristic of many cancers.  Therefore, children receive treatments that are individualized and age-appropriate rather than a one-size-fits-all approach.”


This gift is part of a challenge made by former Arkansas Children’s Hospital board member Haskell Dickinson and the Trinity Foundation, which pledged $1 million for precision medicine and challenged others to step forward with the remaining $700,000 needed to fully fund the program. The Ryan Gibson Foundation answered the challenge with this gift of $500,000, the largest in the foundation’s history.


“We’re so excited about this gift, about precision medicine and about Arkansas Children’s Northwest in Springdale,” says Don Gibson, Ryan’s father. “The Arkansas Children’s Research Institute is on the leading edge of looking at children as individuals and developing appropriate treatments based on each child’s needs. It is an honor to be a part of this program and the new children’s hospital in Springdale.”


The Ryan Gibson Foundation was founded in 2001 by friends and family. A native of Springdale, Ryan was diagnosed with leukemia in 1995 at the age of 19. Ryan underwent a successful bone marrow transplant to treat the leukemia and graduated from Southern Methodist University in Dallas in 2000. In January 2001, while waiting to begin medical school, Ryan was stricken with pneumonia. His immune system, weakened from the leukemia and bone marrow transplant, couldn’t fight it off. After a short, difficult struggle, Ryan passed away on January 30, 2001. He was 25 years old.


The Ryan Gibson Foundation has one goal: to find a cure for Leukemia,” says Hook Harmeling, President of the Ryan Gibson Foundation. “After a long struggle with Leukemia, Ryan felt his purpose in life was to end this dreaded disease. Through this Foundation, those of us who loved Ryan work together to carry on Ryan's dream. Through grants and contributions supporting research and treatments for leukemia, we feel we can accomplish what Ryan set out to do, which was to save lives.”


 “This gift from the Ryan Gibson Foundation, in collaboration with Trinity Foundation and the English family, will impact the lives of countless children all over the region. It’s an excellent example of the great work that can be accomplished when champions for children work together,” said Fred Scarborough, chief development officer of Arkansas Children’s and president of Arkansas Children’s Foundation. “Ryan’s legacy will live on in the smiles of children who will be cancer-free thanks to the groundbreaking research funded by this gift.”


About Arkansas Children’s Research Institute

ACRI is a free-standing state-of-the-art pediatric research center which provides a research environment on the ACH campus to foster research and scholarship of faculty members of University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences who are investigating questions relative to development, disease and treatment as it relates to the health of infants, children and adolescents. Physician and biomedical scientist investigators at ACRI and the Arkansas Children's Nutrition Center (ACNC) conduct clinical, basic science, and health services research for the purpose of treating illnesses and preventing disease and thereby, improving the health of the children of Arkansas and beyond.

About Arkansas Children’s

Arkansas Children’s, Inc. is the only hospital system in the state solely dedicated to caring for children, which allows the organization to uniquely shape the landscape of pediatric care in Arkansas. The system includes a 359-bed hospital in Little Rock with the state’s only pediatric Level 1 Trauma Center, burn center, Level 4 neonatal intensive care and pediatric intensive care, and research institute as well as a nationally-recognized transport service. It is one the 25 largest children’s hospitals in the United States and is nationally ranked by U.S. News World & Report in pulmonology and neonatal care. A sister campus is under development in Northwest Arkansas and will bring 233,613 square feet of inpatient beds, emergency care, clinic rooms and diagnostic services to children in that corner of the state. A private nonprofit, Arkansas Children’s boasts an internationally renowned reputation for medical breakthroughs and intensive treatments, unique surgical procedures and forward-thinking research and is committed to providing every child with access to the best care available, regardless of location or resources. Founded as an orphanage, Arkansas Children’s has championed children by making them better today and healthier tomorrow for more than 100 years. For more info, visit www.archildrens.org/research



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