Duncan Neurological Research Institute receives transformational commitment from Huffington Foundation to help solve mysteries of Parkinson’s disease

Press Release

HOUSTON, TX – (Nov. 15, 2021) – The Jan and Dan Duncan Neurological Research Institute (Duncan NRI) at Texas Children’s Hospital received a $10 million gift to advance its work in Parkinson’s disease research. Under the leadership of Drs. Joshua Shulman and Huda Zoghbi, this gift will help transform the promising work in Parkinson’s disease already underway at the Duncan NRI. Researchers will explore new avenues and hypotheses related to the underlying causes of Parkinson’s disease, with the ultimate goal of developing new therapies to treat patients.

Huffington Foundation Trustee Terry Huffington says a donation of this magnitude is indicative of the confidence the organization has in the researchers at the Duncan NRI and is among the largest gifts the Foundation has ever made. “On behalf of my family, I’m thrilled to continue our investments in the Duncan NRI to advance research in Parkinson’s disease, and have utmost confidence in its leaders who are focused on solving this devastating neurological disorder,” Huffington said.

The Duncan NRI built a core faculty of researchers and other cross-disciplinary personnel who have collectively pushed the pace and boundaries of discovery, providing a deeper understanding of the foundational cause of Parkinson’s while laying the groundwork for future treatments that one day will improve the lives of patients everywhere. In the last five years alone, Texas Children’s efforts yielded incredible outcomes for neurodegenerative diseases resulting in publication of nearly 150 discoveries in top journals internationally.

“This incredible gift from the Huffington Foundation will allow Duncan NRI researchers to continue making fundamental discoveries in neuroscience, paving the way for new understanding, therapies and hope for families affected by Parkinson’s disease,” said Mark A. Wallace, President and CEO of Texas Children's Hospital. “The Huffington family’s commitment to unlocking the mysteries of this debilitating illness and identifying more effective treatment is a reflection of the mission of Texas Children’s Hospital, as we work to create a healthier future for people around the world.”

Research efforts will be led by Dr. Josh Shulman, Huffington Foundation Endowed Chair for Parkinson’s disease Research and Professor, Departments of Neurology, Neuroscience, and Molecular and Human Genetics at Baylor College of Medicine; and Dr. Huda Zoghbi, Director of the Jan and Dan Duncan Neurological Research Institute at Texas Children’s Hospital. The Texas Children’s team is building a network of top researchers, physician-scientists, and clinicians from the Duncan NRI and Baylor College of Medicine to collaborate and create a powerhouse of discovery to dramatically improve outcomes for Parkinson’s patients. Those individuals also include Drs. Hugo Bellen, Zhandong Liu, Andrea Ballabio and Juan Botas.

“I’m forever grateful to Terry and her family for trusting us and backing our continued efforts to help solve this devastating disorder,” said Dr. Zoghbi.  “Together, we are truly charting a new path for those living with Parkinson’s disease, and I am excited to see all that we will accomplish.”

Texas Children’s Hospital will commemorate the Huffington Foundation’s gift by naming the 11th floor of the Duncan NRI, which houses the lab where Parkinson’s disease research is conducted, in the family’s honor. A longtime partner of Texas Children’s, the Huffington Foundation has gifted nearly $20 million to the research institute.


About Texas Children’s Hospital

Texas Children’s Hospital, a not-for-profit health care organization, is committed to creating a healthier future for children and women throughout the global community by leading in patient care, education and research. Consistently ranked as the best children’s hospital in Texas, and among the top in the nation, Texas Children’s has garnered widespread recognition for its expertise and breakthroughs in pediatric and women’s health. The hospital includes the Jan and Dan Duncan Neurological Research Institute; the Feigin Tower for pediatric research; Texas Children’s Pavilion for Women, a comprehensive obstetrics/gynecology facility focusing on high-risk births; Texas Children’s Hospital West Campus, a community hospital in suburban West Houston; and Texas Children’s Hospital The Woodlands, the first hospital devoted to children’s care for communities north of Houston. The organization also created Texas Children’s Health Plan, the nation’s first HMO for children; has the largest pediatric primary care network in the country, Texas Children’s Pediatrics; Texas Children’s Urgent Care clinics that specialize in after-hours care tailored specifically for children; and a global health program that’s channeling care to children and women all over the world. Texas Children’s Hospital is affiliated with Baylor College of Medicine. For more information, go to www.texaschildrens.org. Get the latest news by visiting the online newsroom and Twitter at twitter.com/texaschildrens.