This is the second article in a weekly series in Brigham Bulletin profiling runners participating in the 2019 Boston Marathon with the Stepping Strong Marathon Team on Monday, April 15.

Michael McKernan headshot

Michael McKernan

Michael McKernan fondly remembers cheering on Boston Marathon runners as they’d pass by his school, Boston College, at Mile 21. It was during those four years when he discovered his desire to undertake those 26.2 miles himself one day.

“I got to see all the runners come up over Heartbreak Hill, and it was just the coolest, most inspiring day of the school year,” he said.

McKernan, a data coordinator in the Division of Trauma, Burn and Surgical Critical Care, will join those marathoners this year for the first time in support of The Gillian Reny Stepping Strong Center for Trauma Innovation. Working at the Brigham introduced him to the Stepping Strong Marathon Team, and his work in the division gave him a deeper appreciation of the center’s mission.

“It’s amazing how the Reny family put together this idea and turned it into this successful and inspiring center,” he said. “It’s been inspiring to be part of a team and know that we’re trying to raise over $1.2 million together to fund research and innovation in such an important field.”

In his work at the Brigham, McKernan extracts and organizes patient data, which has taught him more about anatomy and procedures than he expected. An aspiring physician, he’s grateful for the opportunity to contribute to patient care by fundraising for Stepping Strong.

“The majority of the work I do takes place behind a monitor,” he said. “It would be the greatest honor to have a direct impact on the future of trauma care by raising money for a program that dedicates itself to efforts in trauma research and recovery.”

Since joining the division in 2017, McKernan’s been most inspired by the expertise, compassion and dedication of his co-workers on the trauma team.

The Stepping Strong team has allowed McKernan to strengthen his connection with the Brigham community. Training with his teammates has given him the opportunity to meet colleagues, patients and families whose paths he wouldn’t otherwise cross.

“I’m around surgeons, nurses and radiologists every day, which means I get a hundred examples of what a good health care provider looks like in my work here,” he said. “I love being at the Brigham.”

About Stepping Strong

Established five years ago, The Gillian Reny Stepping Strong Center for Trauma Innovation has evolved from one family’s bold response to a personal tragedy to a thriving, multi-institutional, multidisciplinary hub that is transforming trauma research and care for civilians and military heroes who endure traumatic injuries and events. You can advance this critical work by supporting the Stepping Strong Marathon Team. Click here to meet members of the team or make a gift. Learn more about the center at