Houston Family Makes Donation to Baylor Cancer Research Center

A Houston family is donating $100 million to Baylor College of Medicine to support cancer research. As Houston Public Radio's Laurie Johnson reports, the gift could help propel the college's cancer center forward into national recognition.

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Dan Duncan is the founder and chairman of Enterprise Products, the second largest publicly traded mid-stream energy partnership in America. He and his family are donating $100 million to Baylor College of Medicine, that's the largest donation in the history of the Texas Medical Center.

"One of our passions, not all of our passions, but one of our passions is to touch as many people as we possibly can with what we have that's available to us to give back to the community."

The donation will directly fund the college's Cancer Center, which will now be named the Dan L. Duncan Cancer Center. The money will help promote an effort to become the state's third federally recognized and funded cancer center. M.D. Anderson Cancer Center here in Houston and U.T. Health Science Center in San Antonio are the only two comprehensive cancer centers in Texas currently recognized by the National Cancer Institute. Dr. C. Kent Osborne is the center's director.

"Do we need another cancer center in Houston? I think the answer to that is 'yes.' Cancer's a very complex, very difficult disease; it's a group of diseases, it's not just one. And it's bigger than any single institution. We need as many people working on this problem as we can muster."

Osborne says the grant application was submitted to the NCI this week. Some time in May, a review committee will visit the Duncan Cancer Center and conduct interviews and evaluations. If approved, the center could be accredited by October or November. Baylor's cancer center is competing with Stanford's cancer center and one at the University of Maryland for the federal designation. Duncan's daughter, Randa Duncan Williams says the fight against cancer is a personal one.

"Unfortunately, my family's had a lot of challenges from cancer. My mother died from breast cancer. In partnering with Baylor College of Medicine, my family hopes that in the future no one will have to say that."

The $100 million gift is in addition to another $37 million the Duncan family has donated to Baylor in the past two years. Dan Duncan serves on Baylor's Board of Trustees. According to Forbes Magazine, Duncan is the richest person in Houston and the third richest in Texas, with a net worth of $5.1 billion. Laurie Johnson Houston Public Radio News.

Bio photo of Laurie Johnson

Laurie Johnson

Local Host, All Things Considered

Laurie Johnson is the Houston host for All Things Considered at KUHF NPR for Houston. Before taking the anchor chair, she worked as a general assignments reporter at KUHF, starting there as an intern in 2002...