The Children’s Inn at NIH
The Children’s Inn at NIH is located on the National Institutes of Health Campus in Bethesda, MD.

BETHESDA, Md.Oct. 12, 2023 /PRNewswire/ — Nearly 35 years after Merck’s board of directors approved a pivotal gift to build The Children’s Inn at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), The Inn is proud to announce that the Merck Foundation has awarded a $14 million grant to support its renovation and expansion. Among the new capabilities that the grant will fund is a respiratory isolation wing to protect young patients with weakened immune systems due to treatment for rare diseases.

“The Inn of Tomorrow would not be possible without the extraordinary support and our longstanding partnership with Merck,” said Jennie Lucca, The Inn’s CEO. “Our reimagined place like home will allow us to serve all pediatric, teen, and young adult patients, regardless of their condition. In collaboration with NIH Clinical Center researchers, we are proud to help support medical breakthroughs that turn hopes into cures.”


The NIH Clinical Center is at the forefront of a new era of promising pediatric research. As the world leader in rare disease research, the NIH is positioned to make significant breakthroughs in treating rare inherited diseases, most of which continue to lack a safe, effective treatment. About one third of the 1,600 active protocols at the NIH Clinical Center include children. Propelled by advances in gene therapy and cellular engineering, NIH researchers anticipate advanced treatments and even cures for some rare genetic diseases on the horizon.

The Children’s Inn at NIH has embarked on a $50-million capital campaign for The Inn of Tomorrow to redesign, renovate, and expand the existing residential facility, which was constructed in 1989-90. The Inn of Tomorrow will be welcoming and comfortable yet will possess increased adaptability to serve younger patients – a key priority for the NIH Clinical Center in its 2018 strategic plan.

Construction on the project is scheduled to start in winter 2024. Besides the new isolation wing, the expansion phase will feature a new front entrance and lobby in a “Tower of Hope” that will be lit at night to serve as a beacon on the NIH Campus. The Merck Foundation grant, spread over five years, will support these components of the project, as well as contribute to modernizing guest rooms and updating infrastructure in the existing building. When completed in 2027, The Inn will be able to serve 1,700 families each year—expanding its capacity by about 200 families per year.

Including Merck’s initial $3.7 million gift to build The Inn, the Merck Foundation and Merck have committed more than $35 million to support family programs and capital projects at The Inn that aim to reduce the burden of illness, make childhood possible and support the NIH clinical research mission.

“The Children’s Inn has pioneered family-centered care and serves as an essential resource for seriously ill children, teens, young adults, and their families. Since its founding, The Inn has advanced important research to address critical unmet needs—a purpose we share at Merck,” said Robert M. Davis, chairman and chief executive officer, Merck. “I am incredibly proud of Merck’s longstanding commitment to supporting The Inn’s remarkable work to ease suffering and improve the lives of thousands of families from around the world every year.”

Established in 1957, the Merck Foundation is a private, charitable organization funded entirely by Merck. It is the company’s chief source of financial support for philanthropic initiatives tackling important global health and social needs. The Foundation’s philanthropic investments help advance health equity around the world by supporting efforts to overcome the barriers that many people—especially those living in marginalized and underserved communities—face in accessing high-quality, equitable health care.

The Children’s Inn at NIH is a private, nonprofit “Place Like Home” for children and their families participating in pediatric research at the National Institutes of Health Clinical Center, the world’s premier biomedical research hospital. The Inn reduces the burden of illness through therapeutic, educational, and recreational programming – all at no cost to the families. Since opening in 1990, more than 16,000 families from around the world, and all 50 states, have made The Inn their home during clinical trials. As a partner in discovery and care with the NIH, The Inn strives for the day when no family endures the heartbreak of a seriously ill child. 

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