Lupe Murchison Foundation gives $1 million for brain research

Lupe Murchison

By Sharon Reynolds

The Lupe Murchison Foundation has given $1 million to Southwestern Medical Foundation for brain research at UT Southwestern to honor the life of Lucille “Lupe” Murchison, a prominent Dallas arts patron who was known for her kind and generous heart. This gift will enable transformative advances in brain research and care that impact and unite efforts of the institution’s basic science laboratories, clinical and research centers, and the University Hospitals and Clinics.

“Lupe wanted to support research to prevent illnesses or extend lifetimes, and she was passionate about helping others,” said Jerry V. Smith, a longtime friend of and consultant to Mrs. Murchison. “Diseases like dementia and Alzheimer’s seem to be rampantly increasing. We hope our support of the Peter O’Donnell Jr. Brain Institute will help determine the causes of these and other brain disorders as well as discover ways to prevent them.”

Mr. Smith, who has served as Managing Trustee of the Lupe Murchison Foundation since its inception, described Mrs. Murchison as someone who loved people, enjoyed the world around her, and gave something wonderful back in return. He is pleased to keep her legacy alive by supporting discovery at UT Southwestern – an institution that she considered one of the premier academic medical centers in the nation.

After the passing of her husband John in 1979, Mrs. Murchison became executrix of his estate and shared ownership of the National Football League’s Dallas Cowboys with her brother-in-law, Clint Murchison. Following her death in 2001, the Lupe Murchison Foundation was founded later that year and has provided funding to various health care, educational, and cultural organizations, including more than $5.5 million to endow scholars, provide scholarships, and support various research projects at UT Southwestern.

The O’Donnell Brain Institute at UT Southwestern is dedicated to better understanding the basic molecular workings of the brain and applying those discoveries to prevention and treatment of brain, spine, nerve, and muscle disorders to restore and improve brain function.

“The brain is perhaps the most daunting and least-explored health care challenge of our time,” said Dr. Daniel K. Podolsky, President of UT Southwestern. “An estimated 50 million Americans suffer from brain-related diseases, whether developmental, traumatic, psychiatric, or degenerative. At UT Southwestern, we have made investigation and treatment of brain diseases our institution’s top priority. This gift from the Lupe Murchison Foundation can help elevate UT Southwestern as one of the country’s leading centers for brain disease discoveries and breakthroughs, innovative care, and cures.”

The need for improved methods of diagnosis and treatment has never been greater. The human cost of brain disorders – a patient’s loss of self, magnified by the emotional strain experienced by family members as caregivers – cannot be quantified. Neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s are particularly devastating, robbing patients of their intellect, personality, and independence, as well as taking a physical and emotional toll on caregivers.

“Behind this tremendous investment is a sentiment that motivated Lupe Murchison to build and support a better world,” said Kathleen M. Gibson, President and CEO of Southwestern Medical Foundation. “We are grateful to Jerry Smith and dear friends at the Lupe Murchison Foundation for their stewardship of Lupe’s inspiring legacy. Their strategic giving over many years has made continued progress in medicine a reality.”

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.