Culture / Newsy

Texas Children’s Hospital Gets a Monumental $10 Million Gift — Houston’s Oldest Women’s Organization Steps Up For Neurological Research

Blue Bird Circle Believes in the Duncan NRI's Mission

BY // 09.22.22

In celebration of its 100th anniversary, the Blue Bird Circle, Houston’s oldest organization of women  volunteering their time and efforts to support pediatric neurology, has presented $10 million to the Jan and Dan Duncan Neurological Research Institute (Duncan NRI) at Texas Children’s Hospital. The hospital revealed the gift Thursday afternoon.

The historic donation continues the Blue Bird Circle‘s legacy of volunteerism as well as financial support for Texas Children’s Hospital. The $10 mullion now brings funds donated to more than $25 million overall.

Established in 2010 and under the direction of internationally renowned neurogeneticist Dr. Huda Zoghbi, the Duncan NRI today is a multi-disciplinary group of 30 physicians and scientists working in tandem on life-saving research and development of effective therapies for the most complex, devastating neurodevelopmental and neurodegenerative diseases.

“In 1983, the Blue Bird Circle gave the seed grant that enabled my initial research into Rett syndrome,” Zoghbi, who also holds the positions of distinguished service professor at Baylor College of Medicine and Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator, says in a statement. “Since then, we have been able to make great strides in our research culminating in several exciting discoveries.

“This gift of $10 million allows the Duncan NRI to widen the scope of our translational research and accelerate the trajectory of therapies from the lab to the patients.”

The Blue Birds will officially celebrate their 100th anniversary at a gala in March. For almost 40 years, the organization has worked to fund neurological research focused on unraveling the mysteries of Rett syndrome, which is a complex neurological disease primarily affecting young girls. The affiliation with Texas Children’s began in 1998 since which time the philanthropic organization has helped fund two research centers for clinical trials.

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Texas Children's Hospital changes lives — and has touched many in the city of Houston.
Texas Children’s Hospital changes lives — and has touched many in the city of Houston.

The Blue Bird Circle makes additional contributions to Texas Children’s of more than $1 million annually, funds generated through the all-volunteer, highly successful resale shop in Montrose and other fundraising activities.

In addition, volunteers log more than 5,000 hours a year in administrative assistance in the Texas Children’s Hospital Blue Bird Clinic.

“As we embark on our 100th anniversary celebration, we are honored to mark this significant year with a transformational gift to the Duncan NRI,” Blue Bird Circle president Abigail Tonry says in a statement. “Under the leadership of Dr. Huda Zoghbi, we know this gift will only help to further propel the Duncan NRI’s important work and keep it at the forefront of neurological research in Texas.”

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