Gift Impact.

Medical Discovery & Patient Care

A foundational history of health care support

Nanaline Duke was James B. Duke’s wife, and the fund established by her will in 1973 still supports the priorities that were important to the couple when they endowed Duke University—including health care. Today’s academic medical centers are worlds different than in the Duke family’s day, but the greatest need is still the same: skilled doctors to teach the art and science of medical practice and research.

So when the Department of Surgery was in need of expendable funds to build staff and faculty, the Nanaline H. Duke Trust supported its ambitions with a $2.5 million gift to be used at the discretion of department chair Allan D. Kirk M.D.’87, Ph.D.’92. More than 40 years later, a fund that traces directly back to the university’s origins is still supporting medical research, education, and patient care.

Supporting a new visionary leader

For 22 years, David Epstein was chair and beloved leader of Duke Ophthalmology. His energy was a driving force behind the construction of the Duke Eye Center in 2005 and the funding and construction of the new Hudson Building, a 116,000-square-foot addition to the Eye Center that opened in 2015. When Epstein died unexpectedly in March, it was thought that the tremendous momentum of the ophthalmology program might slow. So The Duke Endowment stepped in with a $4 million gift to fund a professorship for Epstein’s successor and expendable money for the search. This will help ensure strong leadership for the Eye Center—leadership worthy of following in Epstein’s footsteps.

A gift of gratitude brings in new healers

Gerhard and Ruth Cless turned to Duke in 2002 when their son, Bryan, was diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor. It was a difficult time, but today Bryan is the healthy father of four children. The Clesses, who say they believe Duke’s brain tumor team is “the best in the world,” established a fund for brain tumor research, and this year created the Cless Family Neuro-Oncology Professorship with a $2.5 million gift. Endowed professorships allow Duke to attract and retain world leaders in science and medicine.