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Jan and Dan Duncan: Building a Legacy of Hope

Jan and Dan DuncanWith a historic $50 million commitment to Texas Children's Hospital's new research initiative, Jan and the late Dan Duncan's contributions to pediatric research were and continue to be a driving force behind the creation and launch of the world's preeminent collaborative institute to study and treat pediatric neurological diseases. Dan Duncan suddently passed away on March 28, 2010, and will be dearly missed. Read his obituary from The New York Times.

The Challenge

Jan and Dan were motivated to make their gift when they learned of the sheer magnitude of the challenge of neurological diseases and disorders. Worldwide, one billion people suffer from some form of the more than 600 disorders that afflict the nervous system. In the United States alone, 50 million children and adults — more than the number of Americans with heart disease and cancer combined — are affected by neurological or neurodevelopmentally-handicapping conditions. Brain-related disorders account for the majority of the nation's long-term care costs; when combined with psychiatric disorders, they account for more hospitalization and prolonged care than nearly all other diseases combined.

Yet research funding for neurological diseases, particularly pediatric diseases, is less than half of what is devoted to conditions like heart disease or cancer.

Becoming a Part of the Solution

Jan, who recently joined Texas Children's Board of Trustees, says she and Dan were moved by the burden of the overwhelming number of different neurological disorders, and were surprised to learn how many are interrelated. "Research support in this area is not commensurate with the impact of these diseases, and Dan and I wanted to help call attention to the great need to focus on research and treatments to help those who are suffering," she explains.

Realizing a Unique Vision

The Duncans' gift will help realize a vision of unparalleled promise, and sets a new standard for philanthropy, building a legacy for generations to come. Their generosity will help propel our projects forward and accelerate the pace toward the ultimate goal: to heal sick children.

"It's not being done anywhere else," says Jan. "With the sheer magnitude of the problem, we saw how needed this is, and what a profound difference this Institute and its research will make in so many lives — not just here in Houston and in Texas, but all over the world."

About the Duncans

Also known as one of the world's premier conservationists and sportsmen, the late Dan Duncan was chairman and director of Houston-based Enterprise Products, a leading North American provider of midstream energy services. A self-made man who grew up in rural east Texas, he turned a small business with one truck, two partners, and only $10,000 cash into a multi-billion dollar energy company that today ranks among the nation's most successful. Dan and Jan were married almost 20 years ago.

Jan grew up in New Orleans, Louisiana, where she taught second grade for about 11 years before moving to Houston in 1983. She was teaching at the Kinkaid School when she and Dan met and fell in love. On their first date, Jan says she cried as Dan, a widower at the time, told her that he had loved being married, wanted to be married again, and wanted to share his life with someone he loved and adored. "I kept thinking, 'Thank you, God, you sent him,'" she says. Three months later, they were engaged.

Since that time, the couple made many significant philanthropic investments in and outside of the Houston community to advance medicine, education, spiritual endeavors, and nature and conservation efforts.

Inspired by the Duncan's story? Make a donation now