Shelby's Social Diary
The emphasis was on science when Texas Children's launched its neurologicalcenter with a major bash
The dinner evening celebrating the launch of Texas Children's Hospital's new neurological research institute was not your typical fluff-and-flowers soirée. While there were plenty of peonies and ceremony Tuesday night, there was honest substance to the gathering that officially marked the opening of the Jan and Dan Duncan Neurological Research Institute.
Guests, who included top donors, board members, scientists and hospital leadership, began the evening by touring the state-of-the-art research floors of the new 13-story building. In place of docs in lab coats, it was notables in cocktail attire that circulated around the arrays of beakers, Petri dishes and test tubes. Researchers explained their work and entertained visitors with a video, set to music, of fruit fly behavior in certain gene models. Leading the scientific open house were institute director Dr. Huda Zoghbi and co-director Dr. John Swann.
With Texas Children's CEO Mark Wallace and his wife, Shannon, as hosts, the dinner, held in a party tent on the institute's grounds, was long on thanks and remembrance. Cynthia and Tony Petrello were applauded for their leadership in spearheading the fundraising effort that enjoyed a jump start with a $50 million gift from Jan Ellis Duncan and her late husband, Dan Duncan. More thank you's were in order for that philanthropic duo.
The concept for the institute began in 2005 when Tony Petrello approached Wallace and Dr. Ralph Feigin, physician-in-chief at the time, with the idea for a center focused solely on research into the developing brain and childhood neurological diseases. Today, the institute has 16 principal investigators and research teams of 130 scientists. Autism, cerebral palsy, epilepsy and Rett syndrome are now under the microscope.
In addition to the words of gratitude for the efforts involved in establishing the institute, there were touching words of remembrance for Dan Duncan, Jim Elkins and Feigin, major supporters of the project.
Medically-minded Houstonians in the crowd included Peggy and Joel Blanton, Mindy and Jeff Hildebrand, Nancy and Jim Gordon, June and Howard Tellepsen, Stephanie and Brad Tucker, Andrea and Bill White, Dr. Mark Kline and Nancy Calles, Wendy Hines and Ann and Karl Stern.