In 2011, Texas Children’s Hospital became the world’s first hospital to use real-time MRI-guided thermal imaging and laser technology to destroy lesions in the brain that cause epilepsy and uncontrollable seizures. Pioneered by Dr. Daniel Curry, Texas Children’s director of pediatric surgical epilepsy and functional neurosurgery, this surgical technique has garnered such a reputation that families from all over the world seek care at Texas Children’s for their children with epilepsy.
To assist him with his work, Curry had a need for additional funding to support research and data specialists who could expand his expert surgical team. These specialists would help him amass and interpret data and images connected to the laser ablation surgery, ultimately pointing the way to improvements in pre-surgery preparation, surgical technique, follow-up care and other issues.
The John S. Dunn Foundation was ready to help with this need, recently providing generous funding for an endowed chair for Dr. Curry. With this guaranteed, long-term support, he is well-positioned to move his research to the next level to discover ways to further refine and streamline laser ablation surgery for epilepsy.
“We’re always looking for the next step in what we can do to help these children, and that requires collaboration among the members of our surgical team, neurologists, psychologists, nurses, imaging specialists and data specialists,” Curry said. “Collaboration requires tremendous effort, and these funds will facilitate our work to ensure we create the best outcomes for our patients.”
The John S. Dunn Foundation has been a stalwart fixture in the Houston philanthropy scene since its founding in 1977 by insurance and banking magnate John S. Dunn, who was committed to supporting organizations in the Greater Houston area that provide for those in need. The foundation’s history with Texas Children’s dates back to 1985, with significant gifts that have benefited the hospital’s expansion in the 1990s, the Meyer Center for Developmental Pediatrics, Texas Children’s Cancer Center and pediatric mental health research. The foundation currently focuses on medical research, health care clinics for the underserved, mental health programs and health care education.
“The Dunn Foundation board has been a tremendous supporter of our program,” said Dr. Howard L. Weiner, chief of neurosurgery at Texas Children’s. “We are extremely grateful for their vision and partnership and appreciate their investing in our work for these very special patients who face such difficult challenges.”
Weiner also offers a unique and much sought-after surgery for epilepsy in patients with tuberous sclerosis complex. The hope is that that the new research specialists Curry recruits will also contribute to Weiner’s surgical team and advance their work as well.