Inn Founder and Trustee Lori Wiener Honored at NIH Director’s Awards Ceremony

Lori Wiener with Dr. Collins and Dr. Sharpless
Lori Wiener pictured with NIH Director Dr. Francis Collins and NCI Director Dr. Ned Sharpless

Lori S. Wiener, Ph.D., of Annapolis recently was honored with the Alan S. Rabson Award for Clinical Care at the National Institutes of Health’s 2018 Director’s Awards ceremony.

Wiener is co-director of the Behavioral Health Core and head of the Psychosocial Support and Research Program at the Pediatric Oncology Branch of the National Cancer Institute (NCI). She also is a co-founder and trustee of The Children’s Inn at NIH, a nonprofit hospitality house located on the NIH campus that provides free lodging and support to pediatric clinical trial participants.

According to NIH Director Dr. Francis Collins, the Rabson award, named after former NCI Deputy Director Dr. Alan S. Rabson, is “given to individuals who share his remarkable dedication to going that extra mile on behalf of patients.”

“Lori truly has gone above and beyond in providing psychosocial support to young patients and their families in NCI’s Pediatric Oncology Branch,” Collins said. “She developed innovative resources that have become the standard of care in psychosocial oncology across the country. […] Like Dr. Rabson, she’s devoted countless hours of her free time over the years to help those in need. One of her most remarkable accomplishments is co-founding The Children’s Inn at NIH. It should come as no surprise that for the last 27 years, Lori and her family have gone out of their way to make the holidays extra special for youngsters who are too sick to leave The Inn.”     

Wiener joined NCI’s Pediatric Oncology Branch in 1986 to help lead efforts to provide the highest quality psychosocial support to NCI’s pediatric research participants and establish a pediatric AIDS program at NCI. She helped found The Children’s Inn at NIH in 1990 to provide “a place like home” to families of seriously ill children whose best hope is a clinical trial at NIH. Since then, she has acted as a trusted adviser to The Inn, serving as a board member, board chair and, now, trustee.

Lori Wiener and her family at Christmas
Lori Wiener and her family at Christmas

“Lori goes out of her way to do what’s best for seriously ill children and young adults who participate in clinical trials at NCI, and she has made a tremendous difference in the care and support pediatric patients receive at The Children’s Inn,” says Jennie Lucca, CEO of The Children’s Inn at NIH. “She worked very closely with Dr. Rabson to develop programs and resources that set the highest standards of care and psychosocial support for children and their families treated at NCI during the most difficult time of their lives. All of us at The Inn are deeply grateful to and inspired by Lori’s unparalleled efforts in making sure we meet the unique needs of every child and family we serve at The Children’s Inn.”

Wiener also has been instrumental in helping The Children’s Inn understand the needs of young adult patients. Recently, she motivated The Inn to raise its age limit to accommodate clinical trial participants up to age 30 and to launch a program tailored to the needs and interests of people ages 18 and older staying at The Inn.

Since The Inn’s founding 27 years ago, Wiener and her adult children, Marisa and Brett Brawerman, have been spending the Christmas holidays at The Children’s Inn. Every year, they wrap gifts for the NIH pediatric patients and their families who spend the holidays at The Inn, prepare holiday meals and stockings for the children, take family holidays portraits and help organize cookie-decorating and holiday-themed activities for them.

She also accompanies Santa to the NIH Clinical Center across the street from The Inn to help provide gifts to children who are too ill to leave the hospital.

Wiener is pivotal in organizing sibling day, an annual event hosted by the NIH and The Children’s Inn that recognizes the siblings of seriously ill children for their contributions to the health and well-being of their sick brother or sister as well as the family overall.

Lori Wiener on Sibling Day
Lori Wiener on Sibling Day

Wiener is the author and editor of close to 200 articles, book chapters, therapeutic workbooks and books that deal with supporting the psychiatric and psychological needs of pediatric patients. She is an associate editor of the journal Pediatric Blood & Cancer, a fellow at the American Psychological Association and the American Psychosocial Oncology Society, and a federal liaison for the board of trustees of the American Psychological Oncology Society and the Association of Pediatric Oncology Social Workers.

To support pediatric psychosocial oncology professionals, she wrote a definitive multidisciplinary textbook and created online resources for pediatric psychosocial oncology professionals.

She also spearheaded efforts to create the first evidence-based psychosocial standards of care for children with cancer and their families.

She is responsible for creating the unique therapeutic game ShopTalk, which helps young cancer patients find simple yet meaningful ways to open up about their disease. ShopTalk is available in most U.S. children’s hospitals and has been requested by doctors in 24 countries. She also developed Voicing My CHOiCES, a workbook that helps guide young people facing potentially life-threatening illnesses in creating their own legacies. Learn more about the educational resources she has contributed to here: NCI Pediatric Oncology Branch – Educational Resources.

In addition, Wiener has brought the national program Flashes of Hope to the NIH Clinical Center to provide families of children participating in NIH clinical trials with professional family portraits free of charge.

Wiener holds a Ph.D. in social work from New York University.