Care at UTSW inspires former co-owner of Cowboys to leave cancer, ophthalmology bequests

Lupe Murchison

By Sharon Reynolds

Lucille “Lupe” Murchison turned to UT Southwestern Medical Center for personal medical care during her final days. Upon her death in 2001, the Lupe Murchison Foundation was formed to carry on Ms. Murchison’s legacy and subsequently has provided generous funding for a variety of health care, educational, and cultural causes, including more than $4.5 million to support a multitude of research projects and student scholarships at UT Southwestern.

Ms. Murchison was a noted Dallas arts patron who shared ownership of the NFL’s Dallas Cowboys with her brother-in-law, Clint Murchison, after the passing in 1979 of her husband, John.

Jerry V. Smith, a longtime friend of and consultant to Ms. Murchison, has served as Managing Trustee of the Lupe Murchison Foundation since its inception. He describes her as a vibrant, caring friend who could befriend anyone in the world.

“Lupe received wonderful care while she was a patient at UT Southwestern,” said Mr. Smith. “Before she died, she told us it would be nice if we would support UT Southwestern. Since then, we have been loyal and consistent in our giving. Lupe would be very pleased about the impact of our gifts to support the institution’s outstanding clinical care, groundbreaking research, and exceptional medical education.”

The Lupe Murchison Foundation’s most recent gift of $500,000 will support two UT Southwestern research programs in the areas of cancer and ophthalmology.

Dr. Daniel K. Podolsky, President of UT Southwestern, said, “The Lupe Murchison Foundation has been a staunch supporter of UT Southwestern physician and scientists for many years. We are extremely appreciative of the Foundation’s continued support for our faculty and our mission as an academic medical center.”

“We are grateful for the extraordinary generosity of the Lupe Murchison Foundation,” said Kathleen Gibson, President and CEO of Southwestern Medical Foundation. “The Trustees of the Lupe Murchison Foundation are thoughtful and dedicated stewards of a great legacy. We deeply appreciate their impact and example for good in our community.” 

Almost 600,000 people in the U.S. will die from cancer this year, but a promising area of cancer research is bringing hope to patients. Immunotherapy uses the body’s own immune system to target and eliminate cancer cells. Meanwhile, one of the oldest forms of cancer treatment, radiation therapy, has been revolutionized in the past decade with the development of stereotactic ablative radiation therapy (SABR), a more powerful, highly precise radiation dose administered in only a few sessions.

Dr. Raquibul Hannan received a $250,000 grant to study i-SABR, the innovative cancer treatment mechanism of combining immunotherapy and SABR. He hopes to increase the effect of both therapies by combining proven immune therapies with SABR through basic research being conducted in his lab and through three i-SABR phase II clinical trials currently being offered at UT Southwestern.

“The most exciting thing about my research is to be able to use SABR as a cancer vaccine,” said Dr. Hannan, Assistant Professor of Radiation Oncology. “I hope to successfully and strategically combine SABR with immunotherapy to improve outcomes of cancer patients. This could lead to better understanding of tumor immunology and the immune response in general, potentially affecting the majority of cancer sites where radiation is a treatment option.”

The Department of Ophthalmology received a $250,000 grant in honor of Dr. R. Wayne Bowman, Professor of Ophthalmology, to establish a research fund to support the areas of clinical and basic research.

Breakthroughs in the fields of molecular biology and molecular genetics have had a tremendous impact in ophthalmology, and the understanding of the genetic mechanism of eye diseases has led to new and more effective measures in preventive therapy. Researchers are developing and evaluating new drugs, devices, and therapies, many of which are available only at UT Southwestern.

“To date, this generous gift in honor of Dr. Bowman from the Lupe Murchison Foundation has supported several clinical and basic research projects, including development of new diagnostic and therapeutic techniques for dry eye diseases; assessment of the mechanisms leading to corneal transplantation rejection; and determination of molecular genetic makeup of patients with a common condition resulting in corneal edema which usually requires corneal transplantation,” said Dr. James McCulley, Chairman of Ophthalmology. “The outcomes of these lines of research will have major benefits for patients with these common ophthalmic conditions, both in terms of quality of life and visual function.”

Dr. Bowman holds the Irene Wadel and Robert I. Atha, Jr. Professorship in Ophthalmology, in Honor of R. Wayne Bowman, M.D.

Dr. McCulley holds The David Bruton, Jr. Chair in Ophthalmology.

Dr. Podolsky holds the Philip O’Bryan Montgomery, Jr., M.D. Distinguished Presidential Chair in Academic Administration, and the Doris and Bryan Wildenthal Distinguished Chair in Medical Science.