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In Review

News & Updates

Underwood Center Celebrates 10‑Year Anniversary

The Lynda K. and David M. Underwood Center for Digestive Disorders has seen impressive growth since opening its doors in May 2013. Empowered by philanthropic support and the leadership of the Underwood Center Council, the center serves as a beacon in the field — ranking No. 5 in the U.S. for gastroenterology and gastrointestinal surgery, according to U.S. News & World Report.
Special initiatives, such as the Fondren Inflammatory Bowel Disease Program and the Metabolic Liver Disease Program, give hope to those living with debilitating digestive illnesses. Faculty also continue to push boundaries in emerging areas like neurogastroenterology and robotic surgery to offer life-changing care to patients. Houston Methodist extends special thanks to Robert E. Fondren and Duncan K. Underwood for their exceptional leadership as co-chairs of the Underwood Center Council.

Spiritual Care Gets a Boost at Houston Methodist Willowbrook

On behalf of The Engraved Pencil Foundation, Mindi H. and Griffin E. Jones made recent gifts toward the Houston Methodist Willowbrook Hospital Spiritual Care Fund. The gifts support the Clinical Pastoral Education Program — an accredited, yearlong hospital chaplain residency — and related spiritual care programs tailored to patients, families and employees.
The hospital’s chapel, now named the Mindi & Griff Jones Chapel, provides a physical focal point for spiritual care where patients and families can visit for prayer, spiritual care consultations and one-on-one interactions with loved ones or a chaplain.
“We are deeply grateful,” says Keith Barber, CEO of Houston Methodist Willowbrook. “Spiritual care programs are vital in a hospital environment as they cultivate an atmosphere of caring, healing and hope that is so valuable during times when individuals face health challenges.”

Cockrell Foundation Deepens Investment in Biomedicine

Since 2010, the Cockrell Center for Advanced Therapeutics within the Houston Methodist Academic Institute has served as a world-class epicenter for biomedical advancement. A 2023 philanthropic investment by The Cockrell Foundation reinforces the progress being made in the more than 7,000 square feet of clinical research space that hosts a full range of Phase 1 outpatient clinical care and study support services.
The shared vision, generosity and leadership of both the Cockrell family and The Cockrell Foundation have helped shape Houston Methodist for nearly 50 years, with giving to research spanning infectious diseases and hematologic oncology to tissue bioengineering and music therapy. In addition, a 2004 gift established the Ernest Cockrell, Jr. Presidential Distinguished Chair at Houston Methodist, currently held by Dr. H. Dirk Sostman, president and CEO of the Houston Methodist Academic Institute.

Night Chaplain Fund Established at Houston Methodist West

Thanks to Dorothy T. Nicholson’s generosity, patients and families at Houston Methodist West Hospital can now meet with a chaplain or reflect in the chapel in the evenings without having to wait until morning staff members arrive. Nicholson’s gift established the Houston Methodist West Night Chaplain Fund to support an evening chaplain and other spiritual care activities.
“We are delighted that Dorothy’s gift allowed us to expand spiritual care coverage so patients and families can seek comfort in their time of need,” says the Rev. Stacy Auld, system director for Spiritual Care and Values Integration at Houston Methodist.

Robbins Rising Star Award to Recognize Top Researchers

Dr. Richard J. Robbins and wife Anne have generously funded the Anne and Richard J. Robbins, MD Rising Star Award Endowment in the Department of Medicine. Dr. Robbins retired in 2023 after serving as longtime chair of the Houston Methodist Department of Medicine, where he held the Charles and Anne Duncan Presidential Distinguished Chair in Medicine.
The endowment will provide one or more awards annually to young faculty or fellows who show particular promise in translational research through development of innovative therapies that offer potential for improved patient outcomes. Each awardee will receive vital funds to support research and related activities.

Grant Supports Compassionate Transplant Assistance

The Houston Methodist J.C. Walter Jr. Transplant Center, one of the most comprehensive transplant centers in the nation, marked its 10,000th organ transplant in 2023.
A recent gift from the JLH Foundation augments the John L. Hern Fund for Transplant Patients and Their Families, which was established by the foundation in January 2005 to help ease the financial burden of transplant patients and families who visit the center. Created to honor and continue the legacy of the late John L. Hern, himself a heart transplant recipient, the fund offsets the costs of travel, parking, lodging, meals, and essential medications and supplies for patients awaiting and recovering from solid organ transplantation. John’s daughter, Paula Hern, says, “I’m so proud we’ve been able to accomplish what we set out to do — to fulfill my father’s wish.”

Norton Estate Gift to Enhance Discovery in DUAL Specialties

For families grateful for care received at Houston Methodist — and passionate about making a difference in the lives of future patients — bequests allow for a legacy focused on preferred areas of research, education, training and the patient experience.
A gift from the Estate of Mr. James E. Norton will benefit scholarly activities in two areas of research at Houston Methodist through the Sylvia and James E. Norton Distinguished New Century Chair in Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery and the Sylvia and James E. Norton Distinguished New Century Chair in Otolaryngology. The endowed positions will support leading-edge medical discovery and education through the recruitment and retention of prominent physician-scientists who, in turn, will teach and train future leaders in their respective fields.

Neals Bolster Education Resources at Houston Methodist Sugar Land

Longtime supporters Mindy L. and Murray L. Neal recently established the Houston Methodist Sugar Land Hospital Educational Excellence Endowment, which will support the highest-priority educational and training needs as determined by the president and CEO of Houston Methodist Sugar Land.
In recognition of the impact of the Neals’ cumulative philanthropic support to Houston Methodist, the Brazos Conference Center at the hospital has been renamed the Mindy and Murray Neal Conference Center.