Philanthropic Updates from The University of Texas at Dallas

Friendship Inspires Planned Gift to Revolutionize Brain Health

By Daniel Steele  |  February 11, 2021

A $1.1 million planned gift from the estate of Janet DeSanders will empower lifechanging research and treatment at The University of Texas at Dallas’ Center for BrainHealth. DeSandersnative Dallasite and graduate of Southern Methodist University, was described by her friends as clever, quick-witted and the life of the party. She was devoted to helping local causes throughout her life, and this particular act of generosity to UT Dallas was inspired by her love for her best friend of over 50 years, Jill. 

DeSanders and Jill were roommates after graduation from SMU, and remained close as “Thursday friends,” gathering for lunch every Thursday for years until Jill suffered a serious stroke following surgery to repair a heart valve. During this challenging time, DeSanders began researching organizations committed to improving brain fitness. She was quickly drawn to the Center for BrainHealth’s pioneering work and would eventually revise her will to include a planned gift to the center in Jill’s honor. 

“Having known Janet and her family for many years, I wasn’t surprised that one of her last acts was a generous and purposeful gift,” said Debbie Francis, past advisory board chair of Center for BrainHealth. “Janet was a kind, decisive and thoughtful person who realized that one’s brain health was the key factor in living a long and fulfilling life. She knew her gift – her investment – in the Center for BrainHealth would greatly further the chances of lasting brain health for each of us, and for generations to come. I will remember her with great fondness and great appreciation.”

A $1.1 million estate gift to the Center for BrainHealth was inspired by Janet Desanders’ (above) lifelong friend Jill.

DeSanders’ gift will be directed to support the center’s BrainHealth Project, a landmark scientific study that is helping define, measure, maintain and retain brain health in an effort that will revolutionize the field. The project comprises ainternational collaboration of the leading experts focused on developing scientific protocols to strengthen the brain’s upward potential.  

“We are overflowing with gratitude for Mrs. DeSanders’ extraordinary gift,” said Sandra Bond Chapman, chief director of the Center for BrainHealth. “Science clearly shows that our brains hold an immense power to adapt, change and improve throughout our entire lives, given access to the right tools. Janet would be thrilled to know that her gift is already empowering people across the nation to improve their brain health and performance. She honored us with forethought of a meaningful estate gift to support our vision for a brain-healthy world and will always be a foundational part of our momentum.” 

Participation in the BrainHealth Project is now open to adults and children. Registrants first assess their cognitive capacity and potential through questionnaires and game-like tasks. After completing the assessment, the project’s clinicians deliver personalized recommendations for developing new brain-healthy habits, meeting regularly with participants for quarterly coaching sessions. 

Visit to sign up.