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Pediatric Neurology Research Centers We Fund

We have been honored to fund four continuing research centers in pediatric neurology so children and families can have a brighter future. Through the generosity of financial donations and our resale Shop, we have been able to give over $25 million towards research.
The Blue Bird Circle Clinical Research Center at Texas Children's Hospital
The Blue Bird Circle Clinical Research Center’s mission is to bring ever-advancing therapies to its patients. The Center supports cutting-edge research in neurology, and enhances the larger effort to build a clinical research support structure that will advance care to the next level and make a difference in the lives of children affected by neurological disorders.

The Center capitalizes on the remarkable scientific discoveries being made in childhood neurological diseases and serves as the clinical research arm of the Jan and Dan Duncan Neurological Research Institute at Texas Children’s Hospital, as well as for The Blue Bird Circle Developmental Neurogenetics Lab and The Blue Bird Circle Rett Center, developing the treatments and cures of tomorrow. Currently, there are over 100 active research protocols in pediatric neurology. Included in this are clinical therapeutic trials, patient registries, rare diseases research, Biomarker/Genetic studies and National Institute of Health research grants.
Learn more about The Blue Bird Circle Clinical Research Center
The Blue Bird Circle Neurogenetics Laboratory at Baylor College of Medicine
The researchers at The Blue Bird Circle Developmental Neurogenetics Laboratory have made critical breakthroughs in epilepsy, including the identification of over forty genes related to common childhood seizures. A major focus is on developing new strategies for the early detection and prevention of seizure-induced damage in the brain caused by rare catastrophic epilepsies, brain tumors, and Alzheimer’s dementia.

In the late 1990s, the Laboratory created a national family research partnership program to discover families with epilepsy. In the last decade, it directed a major project with the Baylor Human Genome Sequencing Center to explore the role of ion channel genes. The Laboratory works to discover the genes and mechanisms underlying childhood epilepsies in order to improve the lives of children by developing more accurate ways of diagnosing and treating childhood neurological problems at the earliest possible stage.

The Laboratory continues to expand its basic research program with the development of a state-of-the-art molecular and imaging facility. It has received numerous international leadership, scientific, and training awards and actively collaborates with many biomedical research centers throughout the world.

Over the last 35 years, the Blue Bird Circle Developmental Neurogenetics Laboratory has trained over 60 young clinical and scientific investigators in the field of seizure disorders, and based on their work, has authored over 300 publications in premier scientific journals and textbooks of epilepsy and genetics.
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Milestones
2014
2014
Early estrogen therapy can prevent X-linked infantile spasms, a catastrophic form of epilepsy.
2015
2015
Awarded $27.3M National Institutes of Health grant to lead ‘Center without Walls’ consortium of U.S. hospitals to identify mechanisms of sudden unexpected death in epilepsy (SUDEP).
2016
2016
High-resolution map of the minimal brain circuit causing childhood absence epilepsy.
2017
2017
Verified that ‘silent seizures’ discovered in mouse models of Alzheimer’s Disease are also present in human AD patients.
2018
2018
First live imaging of neuronal firing patterns in the neocortex during absence seizures.
2019
2019
Proof that childhood absence epilepsy does not arise due to disruption during the early critical period of brain development, and therefore may be reversible by gene therapy after it has appeared.
2020
2020
Described how brain tumors such as malignant glioblastoma trigger seizures and previously unreported waves of electrical silence in the brain.
2021
2021
Identified the first gene in the serotonin transmitter pathway involved in depression that is linked to seizures and premature mortality.
Learn more about the Neurogenetics lab
The Blue Bird Circle Rett Center at Baylor College of Medicine
The Blue Bird Circle Rett Center is one of the few centers in the world that specializes in the diagnosis and care of patients with Rett Syndrome, a neurodevelopmental disorder that develops almost exclusively in females. The Center is one of only 15 Centers in the United States certified as a “Center of Excellence” by the International Rett Syndrome Foundation.

The syndrome causes chronic neurological problems that include severe communication and motor disabilities. There is no known cure for the disorder, but the Center offers a multi-disciplinary approach focused on care, education, and research that will improve the quality of life for patients and their families.
Learn more about the Rett Center
The Blue Bird Circle Center for Advancing Treatments Fund at the Jan and Dan Duncan Neurological Research Institute
For over four decades, The Blue Bird Circle has funded life-saving research to develop effective therapies for the most complex, devastating neurodevelopmental and neurodegenerative diseases. Since the inception of the Jan and Dan Duncan Neurological Research Institute, the Duncan NRI has pioneered 1,400+ discoveries, co-discovered 70+ genetic mutations, and led to major breakthroughs in autism, epilepsy, Alzheimer’s disease, depression, obsessive compulsive disorder and other neurological and psychiatric disorders. The multidisciplinary group at NRI, made up of 30+ physicians and scientists, is led by Dr. Huda Zoghbi. Her 1999 discovery of the defective gene that causes Rett syndrome was funded by The Blue Bird Circle.

To commemorate its 100th year anniversary coming up in 2023, The Blue Bird Circle gave a $10 million transformational gift to the Jan and Dan Duncan Neurological Research Institute which will widen the scope and significantly advance research leading to treatments for children with pediatric neurology disorders. The purpose of this donation is to establish and help fund a program under the NRI, actively led by Dr. Huda Zoghbi as Director of NRI, that will assemble a consortium of top scientists working together to accelerate life-saving research and to develop effective therapies for the most complex, devastating pediatric neurological diseases. The program will be named the " The Blue Bird Center for Advancing Treatments” and will seek to achieve its goals by taking actions that will include, without limitation, performing genomic sequencing on thousands of patients, conducting functional/mechanistic studies, initiating pre-clinical trials, supporting trainees conducting research, actively seeking research grants from NIH, pharmaceutical companies, and other governmental and non-governmental sources, and developing new drug modules in the Texas Center for Drug Development. TCH will also acknowledge the donation by naming the auditorium in the NRI, The Blue Bird Circle Auditorium.
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Learn more about the Duncan Neurological Research Institute
Children with neurological disorders run into constant struggles to live a normal life. At The Blue Bird Circle, we fund research in pediatric neurology so children can have a brighter future.
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