James Michael "Mike" Duncan, M.D.
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died unexpectedly on Monday, May 28, 2012. He was born in Wichita, Kansas on February 5, 1952. He received a degree in nuclear engineering from Kansas State University in 1974 and his Doctor of Medicine degree from the School of Medicine at the University of Kansas in 1977. Mike was a diplomate of the American Board of Internal Medicine and was certified in internal medicine, critical care and pulmonary disease.
Mike began his career as a physician in the United States Navy in Portsmouth, Virginia from 1977 to 1985, before starting in private medical practice for 13 years. Mike served as Deputy Chief Medical Officer of the Space Life Sciences Directorate at the Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas. He began his work with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) when he joined Wyle Laboratories in 1999 to provide medical coverage to astronauts in training in Star City, Russia. He became a flight surgeon for NASA in 2000 and participated in the Space Shuttle Program as Deputy Crew Surgeon for STS-104 and STS-108 before being named Lead Crew Surgeon for Expedition 6 to the International Space Station. He served as Manager of Medical Operations for NASA from 2002 to 2004, and as Chief of Space Medicine from 2004 to 2009. He became Deputy Chief Medical Officer in 2009. During his tenure at NASA, he received numerous awards, such as the Johnson Space Center Superior Achievement Award and the NASA Outstanding Leadership Medal.
Mike led the NASA team that traveled to Chile in September 2010 in support of the rescue of the 33 trapped miners. For their efforts, they were awarded the NASA Exceptional Achievement Medal and the 2011 Samuel J. Heyman, Service to America, National Security and International Affairs Medal. The Service to America Medals program recognizes the exceptional work of unsung heroes, who are part of the federal workforce. In 2010, he was elected by his peers as a full member of the International Academy of Astronautics. He was also a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Senior Aviation Medical Examiner, a Fellow in the American College of Chest Physicians and an instrument-rated private pilot.
At the time of his death, Mike served as the Chief Medical Officer at the National Transportation Safety Board. Mike enjoyed many outside activities, traveling, cooking and flying.
Mike is survived by his wife of 35 years, Candace ("Candy") Hart Duncan. He is predeceased by his parents, James Sydney and Glennis Ruth Duncan. Other survivors include his brother-in-law, Charles Hart and his wife Karla; his sister-in-law, Cheryl Hart-Morris and her husband, Don Morris; and five nieces and nephews: Ben, Andrew, Carson, Reagan and Paul. As passionate as Mike was about his wife, family and career, there was a very special place in his heart for his beloved dog, Sophie. Sophie would always put a smile on Mike's face.
The family will receive visitors at Joseph Gawler's Sons Funeral Home LLC, 5130 Wisconsin Ave. in Washington, DC on Friday, June 1, from 5:00 p.m. until 8:00 p.m. A memorial service will be held at the funeral home on Saturday, June 2 at 11:00 a.m. Inurnment to be held at Arlington National Cemetery at a later date.
In lieu of flowers, the family asks that contributions be made to the James Michael Duncan Engineering Scholarship Fund at Kansas State University. The address is KSU Foundation, 2323 Anderson Ave., Suite 500, Manhattan, Kansas 66502.
Published in Houston Chronicle on June 1, 2012