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METHODOLOGY The Research and Education Newsletter of Houston Methodist

FALL 2013

Versatile chip tests for liver cancer and drugs

by David Bricker & Rebecca Hall, Ph.D.

Scientists from the Houston Methodist Research Institute will receive a total of $4.2 million from the National Institutes of Health to develop a small, low-cost device for rapid point-of-care blood tests. Two grants will fund applications for the technology in drug testing and liver cancer risk assessment. The V-Chip is composed of two thin, 3” x 2”

As the molecules mix, an enzymatic reaction

slides of glass. In between the slides are

creates oxygen gas that pushes the dye up

The V-chip applications are based on

separate wells for three things: hydrogen

columns on the slide. How far the dye travels

technology previously developed by

peroxide, as many as 50 different antibodies,

is roughly proportional to the amount of

Houston Methodist nanomedicine faculty

and a dye. After adding the patient’s sample

biomarker present in the patient sample- in

member Lidong Qin, Ph.D. His “V-Chip,”

of blood, serum, or urine, a shift in the glass

this case, drugs or liver cancer risk biomarkers.

or volumetric bar-chart chip, can detect

plates initiates the test by bringing the wells

The end result is a visual bar chart that Qin

biomarkers in a single drop of blood.

into contact and mixing the four ingredients.

says is accurate and easy to read. >> CONT. PAGE THREE

or volumetric bar-chart chip, will be “ V-Chip” used to detect biomarkers for hepatocellular carcinoma, the most common cause of liver cancer. The device only requires a drop of blood from a finger prick.


Immune cell silence may alleviate multiple sclerosis

Featured News

by David Bricker

 ersatile chip tests for V liver cancer and drugs.................. 1

The five-year project has been funded by a

at how these two systems affect the behavior

$1.3 million grant from the National Institute

of T and B cells, the autoimmune culprits of

Immune cell silence may alleviate multiple sclerosis........... 2

of Neurological Disorders and Stroke to Todd

brain cell degeneration in MS.

Balloon pumps placed in a new way through the arm............. 3

of Pathology and Genomic Medicine at Houston

Past studies by Eagar and others suggest that

Methodist Hospital.

dismantling either the Notch signaling pathway

Ashton & Wray publish comparative effectiveness policy treatise........ 4 Autism four times likelier when mother’s thyroid is weakened....... 5 Pelvic cancer trial at two Houston Methodist hospitals........ 6

Imaging Research Highlights ................................. 4 Inside the Institute............... 8 Education News....................12 Awards & Accolades..........14 New Funding Awards & Applications......................15

Eagar, Ph.D., an immunologist in the Department

or an upstream regulatory protein complex Eagar’s group will examine how two important

called gamma secretase, decreases the severity

cellular systems spur the development of

of MS symptoms.

multiple sclerosis (MS). Eagar will also look

think gamma secretase is important for T and B cells “ We to talk to each other,” Eagar said. “This project will look at how the interactions between T and B cells promote inflammation. We are very interested in how we can use drugs like gamma secretase inhibitors to suppress the immune system during phases of inflammation.

New Employees....................15 New Visitors...........................15

METHODOLOGY The Research and Education Newsletter of Houston Methodist

Editor-in-Chief Rebecca Hall, Ph.D. Design & Art Direction Doris Huang

Contributing Writers Carol Ashton, M.D. David Bricker Rebecca Hall, Ph.D. Mike Liebl, Pharm.D. Katherine Meese Gayle Smith Alyssa Sunkin Nelda Wray, M.D. Read more online: Houston Methodist Research Institute Office of External Relations IAMNEWS-001 | 10.2013 | 150

Photo: Billy Stewart

Content Coordinator Michelle Shemon

Todd Eagar, Ph.D. The NIH-funded project will also help the

targets in future human clinical trials. Read more

scientists determine whether Notch and


gamma secretase may be adequate drug

Balloon pumps placed in a new way through the arm by David Bricker


MD Anderson Department of Epidemiology Chair Xifeng Wu is the co-principal investigator with Qin for the $2.1 million NCI-funded project

A change in how a life-saving balloon pump is placed inside the aorta could help some heart failure patients survive long enough to get a heart transplant and improve outcomes, said a team of doctors from Houston Methodist DeBakey Heart & Vascular Center in an upcoming issue of the Journal of the American College of Cardiology: Heart Failure.

that uses the V-Chip to detect risk biomarkers for hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC), the most common cause of liver cancer. Biomarkers include antigens of hepatitis viruses B and C, aflatoxin (a fungal toxin that at high doses is associated with cancer risk), and metabolic indicators of alcohol consumption, obesity, diabetes, and iron overdose.

Balloon pumps improve blood flow and are usually used temporarily with patients who are receiving treatment for advanced heart failure--they keep patients alive while they

“Most of the burden of HCC is borne by people

wait for a new heart. Traditionally, the pumps are inserted into the aorta through the

who have low income, with the highest incidence

femoral artery near the leg.

rates reported in regions of the world where infection with hepatitis B virus is endemic,”

“There are problems with that approach,” said Jerry Estep, M.D., the Heart Failure paper’s

Qin said. “Developing an accurate and low-cost

lead author. “Because of where the incision is, there is going to be a risk of infection,

technology that assesses the risk of cancer

especially for those waiting for a heart because it can be a prolonged ordeal. We think

could make a big difference to people who

this may be a problem because literature suggests heart failure patients who become

ordinarily can’t afford expensive tests.”

immobile can become debilitated easily. Their physical ability is extremely important going into a big surgery like heart transplant.”

Qin and Houston Methodist co-investigator Ping Wang received another $2.1 million in July

Instead, the team of cardiologists and cardiovascular surgeons looked at whether

from the National Institute on Drug Abuse to

inserting the intra-aorta balloon pump (IABP) through a small incision in the arm’s left

develop the V-Chip for use in drug testing.

axillary-subclavian artery worked better. Estep and his colleagues reported that this minimally invasive approach was successful in all 50 patients. For the 42 patients who

“The proposed test will provide clinicians

ultimately received new hearts, the doctors saw a decrease in pulmonary hypertension

with a fast and reliable method to test for

and improvements in kidney and liver function while waiting for a heart. The 90-day

the presence and quantity of drugs in patient

post-transplant survival rate was 90 percent, and the five month-survival rate was

blood,” said Dr. Wang. “This is especially

better than for patients who receive an IABP via other means.

useful in emergency room settings, where every minute counts.”

Complications to the insertion of the IABP through the arm were reduced. Compared to a leg insertion, which resulted in about 30 percent post-operative infections, arm

Read more online:

insertion resulted in zero infections.

Also contributing to the heart failure paper were Andrea M. Cordero-Reyes, M.D., Arvind Bhimaraj, M.D., Barry Trachtenberg, M.D., Nashwa Khalil, Matthias Loebe, M.D., Ph.D., Brian Bruckner, M.D., Carlos M. Orrego, Jean Bismuth M.D., Neal S. Kleiman, M.D., and Guillermo Torre-Amione, M.D., Ph.D. Read more online:


Ashton & Wray publish comparative effectiveness policy treatise


by Carol Ashton, M.D. & Nelda Wray, M.D.

Center for Outcomes Research co-directors Carol M. Ashton, M.D. and Nelda P. Wray, M.D., released their new book, “Comparative Effectiveness Research: Evidence, Medicine,

540 120 37 840 1400 500 270

and Policy,” July 2013 with Oxford University

Thousand Sq Ft Research Space

Press. The writing of the book was funded by the 2008 Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Investigator Award in Health Policy Research to Ashton and Wray, for innovations in the

Million in Research Expenditirues Worldwide Million in Total Funding

field of health policy. The book is the first comprehensive analysis of comparative effectiveness research policy to be published in the era of the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI). The 2010 Affordable Care Act created PCORI, a new research institute mandated to conduct and support comparative effectiveness research—

Clinical Protocols

to understand best practices in medical care. The authors tell the story of the odyssey of comparative effectiveness research legislation, how proposals were made and molded, and the people and organizations

Credentialed Researchers

who influenced the process. A case study in health policy-making, it is based on the interviews of over 100 policy-makers and thought leaders conducted by Ashton and Wray as the legislative process leading to the PCORI unfolded between 2008 and 2010.


The federal government projects that, by 2018, over $700 million per year will be deposited into the Institute’s trust fund and available to support PCORI’s mission. Ashton and Wray point out that understanding the context of how evidence is

Members Worldwide

generated, used, and perceived by the various stakeholders in the medical care system is necessary for predicting the extent to which PCORI will actually improve patients’ outcomes and control health care costs. The book presents a comprehensive and insightful treatment of the role evidence plays—or does not play—in U.S. health care. The wide-ranging implications of federal investments in comparative effectiveness research will be an integral part of the future of today’s thinkers, researchers, health professionals, and students of health and public policy. ISBN-10: 019996856X | ISBN-13: 978-0199968565


Autism four times likelier when mother’s thyroid is weakened by David Bricker

Pregnant women who don’t make nearly enough thyroid hormone are about 4 times likelier to produce autistic children than healthy women, report scientists from Houston Methodist and Erasmus Medical Centre in an upcoming Annals of Neurology. The association emerged from a study of more than 4,000 Dutch mothers and their children, and it supports a growing view that autism spectrum disorders can be caused by a lack of maternal thyroid hormone, which past studies have shown is crucial to the migration of fetal brain cells during embryo development. “It is increasingly apparent to us that autism is caused by environmental factors in most cases, not by genetics,” said lead author Gustavo Román, M.D., a neurologist and neuroepidemiologist with the Houston Methodist Nantz National Alzheimer Center. “That gives me hope that prevention is possible.” The most common cause of thyroid hormone deficiency is a lack of dietary iodine – common throughout the world, including developed countries. The World Health Organization estimates nearly 1 in 3 people are affected globally. A 2005 CDC-University of Kansas study estimated that in the U.S., where iodine deficiency had been practically eradicated thanks to iodized salt, 1 in 7 Americans is believed deficient.

The present work was based on the Generation

amount of thyroid stimulating hormone),

been implicated as a possible cause of autism

R Study, conducted by Erasmus Medical Centre

and 136 were identified as mildly T4 deficient.

spectrum disorders.

(Rotterdam, Netherlands) doctors and social

The researchers found a weak association

scientists, in which thousands of pregnant women

between mild T4 deficiency and the likelihood

were voluntarily enrolled between 2002 and 2006.

of producing an autistic child, but a strong

Blood was withdrawn from the mothers at or around 13 weeks into their pregnancies to measure levels of thyroid hormone T4 and two

association between severe T4 deficiency and autism (3.89 more likely, as compared to mothers with normal thyroid hormone).

proteins that could indicate the cause of thyroid

A lack of dietary iodine interferes with

deficiency. Six years later, mothers were asked

normal thyroid function, leading to pregnancy

to describe the behavioral and emotional

complications, as well as deafness and

characteristics of their children using a

developmental delay in the baby and loss

standardized psychology checklist.

of control of fat and sugar metabolism and

Researchers identified 80 “probable autistic

heat generation in the mother.

Previous work by Román and others has shown that a deficiency of T4 during a crucial period of embryonic development causes mild to severe brain development errors, such as the lackluster migration of specialized brain cells from the cortex to the outer areas of the cerebrum -- a characteristic of autistic brains. In a 2007 review Román published in the Journal of the Neurological Sciences, he presented a wide swath of evidence that the near-epidemic rise in autism diagnoses – which Román says cannot be accounted for by heightened awareness alone -- could be at least partly

children” from a population of 4,039 -- a number

It is well established that expecting mothers’

the result of an iodine-starved diet and/or

consistent with the Dutch rate of autism spectrum

poor thyroid function (whether caused by poor

exposure to toxins that interfere with normal

disorders. 159 mothers were identified as being

diet, disease, or genetics) can lead to serious

severely T4 deficient (defined as having 5 percent

problems with fetal brain development, but

or less of normal T4, but producing a normal

only in the last 10 years or so has hypothyroidism

thyroid function. Read more online: hmrinews 5

Pelvic cancer trial at two Houston Methodist hospitals by Gale Smith

A trip to a Houston Methodist emergency room for a swollen leg uncovered a major surprise for Pauline Stevens - a 25centimeter pelvic tumor about the size of a soccer ball. The mass was determined to be cancerous,

in addition to chemotherapy,” says Kamat.

and it had spread from Stevens’ uterus to

Stevens is part of the investigational arm of the

her ovaries. Following surgery to remove

study. She had her radiation therapy treatment

the tumor, Stevens, 75, volunteered for a

at Houston Methodist Hospital in the Texas

endometrial cancer study offered at two

Medical Center, and her chemotherapy treatments

Houston Methodist locations: the Texas

are under way at Houston Methodist Sugar Land

Medical Center and Sugar Land hospitals.

Hospital. After chemotherapy ends in October, Kamat will follow Stevens’ progress for at least

Aparna Kamat, M.D., director of gynecologic

another five years.

oncology at Houston Methodist Hospital, is principle investigator of this randomized

Although the exact cause of endometrial cancer

phase III trial that compares two treatment

is unknown, increased levels of estrogen appear

regimens in patients with advanced stage

to play a role, and obesity is the single highest

endometrial cancer. The study is funded by

risk factor. Most women with endometrial

the NCI and sponsored by the Gynecologic

cancer whose cancer has spread outside the

Oncology Group. It compares two treatment

uterus generally receive chemotherapy alone

regimens in patients with advanced stage

or in combination with radiation. Currently,

endometrial cancer: standard chemotherapy

clinicians and researchers are trying to determine

(carboplatin and paclitaxel), with or without

the most effective treatment plan for these

cycles of cisplatin chemotherapy plus

patients, both in terms of outcomes as well as

radiation therapy.

the side effects associated with therapy.

Endometrial cancer starts in the inner lining of the uterus and is the most common gynecologic malignancy in the United States. Approximately 42,000 new cases are diagnosed every year. “We use a combination of chemotherapy drugs

Read more online:

because each works in different ways to stop


the growth of tumor cells, either by killing the cells or by preventing them from dividing. This study will help us determine if radiation therapy offers more benefit for these patients


Imaging Research Highlights

Imaging Research Highlights

Watch drug delivery in real time Paola Decuzzi, Ph.D. is engineering discoidal polymeric nanoconstructs (DPNs) that can be visualized by MRI and PET as they move through the body to target a disease site (like a tumor, arthritic knee, atherosclerotic plaque, damaged heart

MRI core

Photo: Christof Karmonik

tissue or blood vessel), and deliver a

By Christof Karmonik, Ph.D. & Rebecca Hall, Ph.D.

The Magnetic Resonance Imaging core of the Houston Methodist Research Institute houses a state-of-the-art 70 cm wide-bore 3.0 Tesla whole-body human magnetic resonance imaging scanner dedicated to research studies. Features of the facility include: • Fully separated preclinical and clinical research areas • Waiting and recovery areas for clinical research subjects • Preparation room with easy access to the vivarium for preclinical experiments • MRI in immediate proximity to the PET/SPECT imaging core thereby enabling high-throughput multi-modality imaging studies Support is available for experimental design, image acquisition, and image analysis. Visit or contact Jessica Hwang (, 713-441-7979) for more information.

therapeutic payload.

Imaging maps brain response to robotic hands Gerard E. Francisco, M.D. of UT Health is leading a collaboration with Houston Methodist, Rice, and University of Houston on two studies in the MRI core. The first maps brain activity of stroke patients who are undergoing brain-machine interface controlled robotic-assisted training of arm and hand movements. The second follows brain activity in spinal cord injury patients who are training their arm and hand motor function with a robotic device to see how the brain changes as they learn to control the devices. The goal is to use these patterns as maps to help guide patients that have lost motor control of hands/wrists to recover control during rehab.

Combining fMRI and EEG for Epilepsy Christof Karmonik, Ph.D., Bob Grossman, M.D., and Amit Verma, M.D. are developing a new imaging technique for patients with epilepsy in the MRI core. Epilepsy causes spikes in brain activity that can be seen with EEG- even when patients are on medication. The researchers are using EEG combined with fMRI to visualize the networks of the brain that support the generation of the spike discharges. This may be of great use in patients that have otherwise normal MRI scans and also to define the functional areas and networks that cause the patients to have seizures.


Inside the Institute

Research Institute gets new name and logo The Houston Methodist Research Institute has a new name and logo. The Houston Methodist Leading Medicine will replace the former Institute logo to reflect our support of research throughout the system. Employees can download new logos and templates from the brand website as they become available:

Mathew Ware and Biana Godin, Ph.D. won 2013 BioArt Award from the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology.

Our legal name remains The Methodist Hospital Research Institute, with a DBA Houston Methodist Research Institute. For guidance, please contact Rebecca Hall (

MORTI Clinical Trials Management System goes live The go-live date for the updated Clinical Trials Management System is Oct 25. Register for training through myLearning or contact for more information.

Information for the NIH extramural grantee community during the lapse of federal government funding

Research Institute continues NIH Competitiveness Initiative

The NIH has issued guidance on proposal

within the 15th percentile, but not get

submissions and other activities during

funded? Resources are available to

the lapse in government funding. Please be

increase the competitiveness of your

advised that the NIH continues to accept

resubmission, including pilot funding,

proposals, which will be processed when the

bridge funding, grant writing assistance,

NIH reopens and proposal submission dates

and facilitation of collaborations.

will be revised. The Research Institute will

For more information, contact

fully support proposal submissions during

Homer Quintana (hquintana@houston

the funding lapse. For more information,, 713-441-7250).

please refer to the NOT-OD-12-126 or contact Gary Lingle in the Office of Grants & Contracts.


Did your NIH grant application score

New American Veterinary Medical Association guidelines The NIH Office of Laboratory Animal Welfare has issued new AVMA Guidelines. The Vertebrate Animal Section (VAS) of grants and contracts must be consistent with the 2013 Guidelines. Refer to NOT-OD-13-098,, for more information.

Give your ideas a voice at Houston Methodist The Faculty Research Council would like to hear your ideas on how to improve administrative operations at the Research Institute and the Education Institute. Contact them by email at tmhrifacultyresearchcouncil@

Harvard Business Review and the New England Journal of Medicine have launched an eight-week online forum for health care leaders seeking to increase value by improving patient outcomes and reducing costs. Find more online:

Inside the Institute

Harvard Business Review health care innovation forum launched

US Congress tours of the Research Institute The Houston Methodist Research Institute was honored by visits from U.S. Representative John Culberson, and staff from the offices of U.S. Senator John Cornyn, U.S. Representative Al Green, and U.S. Representative Pete Olsen this August. The visits centered on the need for funding the preclinical/early phase clinical studies

Institute for Academic Medicine strategic planning continues

that bridge the gap to commercialization of research innovations so they can reach the

The academic strategic planning integration

and Brittany Seabury, deputy director Rep. John Culberson; and Laura Holland, health

committee, chaired by Dr. Antonio Gotto,

legislative assistant and Jay Guerrero, deputy director for Sen. John Cornyn.

market and impact clinical care. Tours included site visits to MITIE and research labs, with demonstrations of research advances in Houston Methodist core technologies. Honored guests included Sarah Whiting, legislative director for Rep. Pete Olson; Gregg Orton, legislative director for Rep. Al Green; Catherine Knowles, legislative director,

approved the plan on Aug 26. Budgetary planning is in progress. For more information, contact Ed Jones (eajones@houston

From left to right: Mauro Ferrari, Ph.D., Barbara L. Bass, M.D., FACS, Rep. John Culberson, Shanda H. Blackmon, M.D., MPH, FACS, Brian J. Dunkin, M.D., FACS and Puja G. Khaitan, M.D.


Inside the Institute

October 28 Computational Modeling of Atherosclerosis in the Coronary and Carotid Arteries Nenad Filipovic

October 30

Research Institute Employee Town Hall Research Institute Employee Diversity Fair

A Portrait of Nanomedicine and it’s Ethical Implications Mauro Ferrari, Ph.D.

November 4

Image Based Response to Treatment in Oncology Dimitris Visvikis, FIPEM

November 9-13

Society of Neuroscience Annual Meeting

November 19

Leadership Conversations Series Mauro Ferrari, Ph.D

November 25

Computational Modeling, Essential to Innovation in Surgery William W. Lytton, M.D., Ph.D.

December 9

Pumps & Pipes 7

December 11-12 Leading Clinical Research: Quality processes at Houston Methodist Research Institute

December 17

Leadership Conversations Series A.Osama Gaber, M.D., F.A.C.S.

Feb. 17-21, 2014

Cardiac MRI Workshop

March 6-8, 2014

Total Endovascular Series: Lower Extremity II and Limb Salvage

March 13-15, 2014

Re-Evolution Summit V: MICS Hands-On Summit

March 22, 2014

Cancer Biomarkers Conference

April 11-13, 2014


Southwest Valve Summit II- On the River

UPcoming events

Upcoming Events

Inside the Institute

Bridging the Valley of Death: Preclinical & Early Phase Clinical Trials by Rebecca Hall, Ph.D.

F D A current G ood L aborator y P ractice F acilities ‘Translational research’ was coined twenty years ago by the National Cancer Institute to describe research innovations transitioning to clinically useful products—research oriented to making tangible differences in the lives of patients. While many institutions realigned their missions to include translational research, in so far as it can be thought

Housed within the vivarium, cGLP facilities perform risk/safety assessments in preclinical models under FDA guidelines to ensure the quality and reliability of research data. Adherence to cGLP standards is required for safety studies, at the final stage of preclinical development, in order to move into clinical studies. The Comparative Medicine core provides the physical space and guidance needed for cGLP studies at Houston Methodist. For more information, contact Dr. Melanie Ihrig (mihrig@houston

of as ‘applied research’, actually reducing translation to practice by efficiently moving innovations into the clinical realm is a challenge taken on by few. Translational research requires specialized clinical, manufacturing, and regulatory expertise. It also requires significant financial resources, and a mechanism for a hand-off to industry partners. Without these resources to bridge innovations to Phase II and III clinical trials, innovations will fail to reach the market and impact patient care, regardless of their potential to advance the practice of medicine. Houston Methodist understands the challenges and has invested in building the Research Institute to address this ‘valley of death’ in the translational research cycle. As industry has become increasingly conservative with investment in early stage translational research, we also believe that nonprofit institutions with humanitarian public health missions need to help shepherd innovations through this critical stage in medical product development. Several critical areas of infrastructure at the Research Institute are available for research at the preclinical/Phase I-II stage:

F D A current G ood M anufacturing P ractice F acilities Houston Methodist manufactures products and complex biologics in two on-site cGMP facilities. The 4000 sq ft cGMP Laboratory on the 12th floor of the Research Institute building is designed to produce clinical grade pharmaceuticals, nanoparticles, vaccines and other biologics for preclinical and clinical studies. In addition, clinical grade products from the cyclotron and radiopharmaceutical cGMP lab on the bottom floor are used for imaging in Houston Methodist Hospital and in the research Imaging Suite. The location immediately next to the Imaging Suite allows researchers to perform studies with short-lived radio-isotopes that cannot be done elsewhere in the Texas Medical Center. For more information on the 12th floor cGMP facility, contact Daniel Fraga ( For more information on the cyclotron and radiopharmaceutical lab, contact Max Yu (

T he A cademic O ffice of C linical T rials & the C ockrell C enter for A dvanced T herapeutics The AOCT provides Clinical Trial Management System study set up including calendar, budget and milestones for all clinical trials at Houston Methodist at no charge. In combination with the Cockrell Center for Advanced Therapeutics, it also offers additional fee-for-service resources and administrative support for clinical trials operations. Involve the AOCT early to develop your clinical study budget so that you can design the most cost effective study. The following services are currently available: • Protocol Development

• Regulatory support (IND/IDE)

• Budget and contract set-up

• Nurse & MD workspace

• Research nursing/coordinators

• Inpatient beds

• Study design and statistical analysis

• Procedure & private infusion rooms

• Project/site management

• Sample Processing Laboratory

• Data management (CRF Development) For more information, contact or Julie Sicam.


Education News

Weill Cornell and Houston Methodist launch new collaborative clinical research training program by Alyssa Sunkin, Weill Cornell Medical College Dr. Andrew Avarbock, a dermatologist at Weill

Now Dr. Avarbock is getting his chance.

Cornell Medical College, was a resident when

Houston Methodist and Weill Cornell Medical

he first witnessed the devastation that severe

College have joined forces to offer an

cutaneous drug eruptions can cause – and he

accelerated clinical research training

never forgot it. One of his patients sprouted an

program to junior faculty who are interested

acute skin rash after taking a medication — a

in conducting clinical trials. Avarbock is one

reaction that doctors can do little to treat and is

of five from Weill Cornell faculty and three

often fatal.

from Houston Methodist–Drs. Jorge Darcourt,

Stymied by few ineffectual tools in the doctor’s treatment chest, he wanted to understand the

Eric Bernicker, Huie Lin that have joined the program.

underlying causes of the reaction and develop

The one-year program is the collaborative

better treatments. There was only one problem:

brain child of Dr. John Leonard, associate

in the hustle and bustle of residency, he had

dean of clinical research for Weill Cornell,

never learned how to conduct clinical research.

and Dr. Tim Boone, co-director of the Institute

Mentored Clinical Research Training Program is an exciting venture for Weill “ The Cornell and Houston Methodist that builds upon our thriving partnership to provide critical insight and growth for our faculty,” said Dr. Stewart, vice dean at Weill Cornell. “It will not only enhance the bridge we built nearly 10 years ago between the North and South, but also advance treatments and therapies we can offer our patients.

for Academic Medicine, chairman of the

The program began July 17 with a four-day

Department of Urology at Houston Methodist

workshop at the Cornell Club in New York City.

Hospital, and professor of urology at Weill

The workshop featured didactic coursework,


small-group sessions, and invited speakers.

“If you don’t know anything about statistics and how to power a study you might end up with worthless data, or maybe you should From top left to right: Drs. Timothy Boone (HM), Jorge Darcourt (HM), Gloria Chiang (WCMC),

be doing a registration trial and not a clinical trial,” said Dr. Boone. “The training allows

Andrew Avarbock (WCMC), Jonathan Zippin (WCMC)

you to pose your clinical question and answer

and John Leonard (WCMC). From bottom left to

that question with planning and foresight.”

right: Drs. Chun Lin (HM), Eric Bernicker (HM), Carl Crawford (WCMC), and Halina White WCMC).

It also provided faculty with an introduction or refresher to the foundations of clinical research, including research design and methodologies, data management and analysis, and the regulatory process. Over the next year, each of the faculty will develop and conduct a clinical research trial, receiving mentorship and guidance from more experienced clinical researchers at Weill Cornell and Houston Methodist.

12 2

Education News

Houston Methodist trains Saudi Arabian nurses by Katherine Meese

Houston Methodist Global Health Care Services and the Methodist

International nurse leadership trainees Ahmed Al-Khaibary, BSN, RN; Aliyah Ali Al-Qarni, BSN, RN, and Sultan Saleh JemahAlkhaibari, BSN, RN: pictured with Houston Methodist senior vice president and

Center for Professional Excellence in Nursing graduated their first cohort of nursing leadership trainees from Saudi Arabia in August. With executive mentorship, trainees

chief nurse executive Ann Scanlon McGinity, Ph.D., RN, FAAN.

Cardiovascular bootcamp trains 150 fellows by David Bricker The fifth annual national CV Fellows Bootcamp provided hands-on training in and discussion of the latest advances and techniques in cardiovascular medicine. The event was organized by the Houston Methodist DeBakey Heart & Vascular Center, DICET, and MITIE, and sponsored by 13 industry partners.

received leadership and professional development training, and developed strategies to improve patient care in their home country. For more information, contact Katherine Meese (

Nearly 90 academic sessions covered topics including traumatic aortic injury, cardiac pacemakers, implantable cardioverter-defibrillators, nuclear cardiac imaging, and current trends in managing venous thoracic outlet syndrome. Find more information online:

JOVE Science Education Houston Methodist trainees can now learn laboratory fundamentals and techniques with the online educational video collection from JOVE SE. Employees can access JOVE via the library resources on MyHR web (

Houston Methodist Academy Update by Amy Wright

Fall Diversity Fair

Postdoktoberfest trainees joined their TMC

Annual Biomedical Engineering Society Conference

Housotn Methodist/ UH Graduate Fellowship

The Academy will host the next Diversity Fair on the second floor, outside the Research Institute auditorium, Oct 30, 3-4 pm. The theme will be Thanksgiving and fall traditions in America.

Houston Methodist postdoc colleagues from the National

The Academy exhibited at the

The University of Houston Cullen College of Engineering and the Houston Methodist research Institute have created a joint fellowship opportunity for Ph.D. students who wish to pursue a degree in engineering and translational biomedical research. For more information, contact Amy Wright (aswright@

Postdoc Association for a networking event on Oct. 3 at the TMC Commons. NPA membership is free through the Houston Methodist Academy. Join online:

BMES conference in Seattle, Washington, Sept. 25-28. More than 3,250 attendees had the opportunity to browse open postdoctoral positions and learn about the translational research education programs available at Houston Methodist.

13 3

Awards & Accolades


Congratulations to Mary Schwartz, M.D., for receiving the Excellence in Education award from the American Society of Cytopathology. Congratulations to Philip Cagle, M.D., for receiving the Pathologist of the Year and Distinguished Patient Care awards from the College of American Pathologists. Congratulations to David Haviland, Ph.D., C.Cy., for passing the International Cytometry Certification Examination with the International Society for Advancement of Cytometry. ( Congratulations to Katherine Perez, Pharm.D. for receiving the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP) Foundation’s Literature Award for Innovation in Pharmacy Practice. Congratulations to Mathew Ware and Biana Godin, Ph.D. for their 2013 BioArt Award from the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology. Congratulations to Rita Serda, Ph.D., James Gu, Ismail Meraz, Ph.D. and Victor Segura Ibarra of the Scanning Electron Microscopy Core and the Department of Nanomedicine for being selected as finalists in the SEM contest judged by FEI and National Geographic. Congratulations to Hung-Jen Wu, Ph.D., postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Nanomedicine, for his appointment to a tenure track assistant professor position in the Chemical Engineering department at Texas A&M University. Congratulations to Muralidhar L. Hegde, Ph.D. for receiving the Environmental Mutagenesis and Genomics Society Emerging Scientist Travel Award. The Research Institute sponsors several award opportunities for faculty and staff. For more information, contact Mariana Pope,, in the Office of Governance & Faculty Affairs. The Research Institute President’s Awards for Transformational Excellence for publications in high impact journals and peerreviewed grant awards. The Virginia and Ernest Cockrell, Jr. Scholars Award for innovative translational and clinical research projects. The Career Cornerstone Award for Research Institutes members receiving their first NIH grant as a primary or co-primary investigator.


New Funding Awards & Applications Department of Cardiovascular Sciences:

$2,100,000 , Lidong Qin, RO1, 4 yrs, National Cancer Institute

$3,500,000, Miguel Valderrรกbano, RO1, 5 yrs, National Heart, Lung & Blood Institute

$400,000, Ennio Tasciotti, R21, 2 yrs, National Cancer Institute

$2,500,000, John Cooke, UO1, 3 yrs, National Heart, Lung, & Blood Institute

Applications: Rita Serda, Haifa Shen (2), Alessandro Grattoni, Guoting Qin, Jason Sakamoto, Yujun Song, Yong Yang

$800,000, John Cooke, RO1, 2 yrs, National Eye Institute $344,000, Stephen Little, 3 yrs, National Science Foundation $300,000, Nazish Sayed, 4 yrs, American Heart Association $300,000, Jack Wong, 4 yrs, American Heart Association Applications: John Cooke (10), Andrea Cordero, Mark Davies, Jerry Estep (2), Yohannes Ghebremariam (3), Homam Ibrahim , Saverio La Francesca , Stephen Little , Jack Wong (2), Nazish Sayed, Dipan Shah

Department of Nanomedicine $2,100,000, Lidong Qin & Ping Wang, RO1, 3 yrs, National Institute on Drug Abuse

Department of Systems Medicine & Bioengineering Applications: Stephen Wong (2)

Department of Translational Imaging

Department of Nanomedicine Xin Han, Graduate Research Fellow Joon Hee Jang, Postdoctoral Fellow Myeong Chan Jo, Postdoctoral Fellow Vaidotas Kiseliovas, Graduate Research Fellow Ying Li, Postdoctoral Fellow Chang Liu, Postdoctoral Fellow Yu Mi, Postdoctoral Fellow Asad Moten, Undergraduate Research Fellow Suhong Wu , Graduate Research Fellow Xiaoyan Wu, Postdoctoral Associate Department of Systems Medicine & Bioengineering Jared Gilliam, Postdoctoral Fellow 3 Department of Translational Imaging Yinhan Zhang, Research Associate I Andrea Zuniga, Administrator Cancer Research Pavana Dixit, Research Associate I, Rad Onc Murali Hegde, Scientist, Rad Onc Sankar Mitra, Scientist, Rad Onc Shilditya Sengupte, Research Scientist, Rad Onc Sandra Soliz, Special Projects Coordinator

$1,400,000, Todd Eagar, 5 yrs, National Institute of Neurological Disorders & Stroke $400,000, Muthiah Kumaraswami, 2 yrs, National Institutes of Allergy & Infectious Disease Applications: Carly Filgueira (2), Edward Graviss (3), Adriana Rosato

Neurosciences Applications: Stanley Appel, Muralidhar Hegde, Kenneth Podell

Applications: Zheng Li (2)

Transplant Immunology

Cancer Research

$300,000, Xian Li, R56, 1 yr, National Institutes of Allergy & Infectious Disease

$75,000, Kapil Bhalla, 1 yr, National Cancer Institute Applications: Barbara Bass, Kapil Bhalla (3), Jenny Chang (4), Yi Liu, Brian Miles, Alvaro Munoz, Sankar Mitra (3)

Inflammation & Epigenetics Applications: Qi Cao, Wei Zhao

Diabetes &Metabolic Disease Applications: Tuo Deng (2), Anisha Gupte, Dale Hamilton, Willa Hsueh, Ke Ma

New Employees Department of Cardiovascular Sciences Kankana Bardhan, Postdoctoral Fellow Isabel Bernges, Graduate Research Fellow Lance Blau, Postdoctoral Fellow 1, Cardiovascular Surgery Jinyu Chen, Sr. Research Assistant Nga Diep, Senior Research Assisant Kim Donlon , Clinical Research Nurse, Cardiology Anne Fombu, Clinical Research Nurse, MDHVC Gianfranco Matrone, Postdoctoral Fellow Phuong Nguyen, Clinical Research Nurse, MDHVC Cathryn Stegmoyer, Clinical Research Nurse, MDHVC Roman Sukhovershin, Postdoctoral Fellow Xiaoyu Tian, Postdoctoral Fellow 2 Nicholas Craig von Sternberg, Graduate Research Fellow, Cardiology Dongxin Zhao, Postdoctoral Fellow 1

Infectious Disease

Clinical Trials Support Devon Miller, Project Coordinator, AOCT Eileen Dickman, Director, Clinical Research and Business Development, CCAT Communications & External Relations Doris Huang, Sr. Creative Services Specialist Comparative Medicine Christopher Smith, Animal Care Technician II Diabetes & Metabolic Disease Vasumathi Theegala, Sr. Research Assistant Governance & Faculty Affairs Nelcy Ramirez, Project Specialist Inflammation & Epigenetics Xiang Chen, Postdoctoral Fellow Xikun Zhou, Postdoctoral Fellow 1 MRI Core Jeff Anderson, Research Associate I Research Protections Catherine Simmons, Quality Assurance Analyst

Applications: Wenhao Chen (2), Xian Li, Omaima Sabek (2)

New Visitors Department of Cardiovascular Sciences Sergio Ibarra, Visiting Postdoctoral Fellow, Cardiology Nilay Patel, Visiting High School Student, Cardiovascular Surgery Su Yeon Choi, Visiting Scientist, MDHVC Maris Zamovskis, Visiting Graduate Research Fellow Department of Systems Medicine & Bioengineering Liyuan Zhu, Visiting Graduate Research Fellow Department of Translational Imaging Sara Esposito, Visiting Graduate Research Fellow Carmen Iodice, Visiting Graduate Research Fellow Nasim Taheri, Visiting Graduate Research Fellow Cancer Research Arijit Dutta, Visiting Graduate Research Fellow, Rad Onc Katerina Kaczmarski, Visiting Undergraduate Research Fellow Monika Vishnoi, Visiting Postdoctoral Fellow, Surgery MITIE Jiaxing Qi, Visiting Graduate Research Fellow Mahbubur Rahman, Visiting Graduate Research Fellow Remi Salmon, Visiting Graduate Research Fellow Nanomedicine Stefania Acciardo, Visiting Undergraduate Research Fellow Marta Anna Balliano, Visiting Graduate Research Fellow Claudia Corbo, Visiting Postdoctoral Fellow Marco Farina, Visiting Graduate Research Fellow Amanda Miller, Visiting Undergraduate Research Fellow Roberto Palomba, Visiting Postdoctoral Fellow Qian Wei, Visiting Postdoctoral Fellow

Neurosciences Jonathan Wiese, Clinical Research Nurse, Neurology

Neurosciences Simon Fisher Baum, Visiting Scientist, Neurology Andrew Ferguson, Visiting Undergraduate Research Fellow, Urology Andrew Cris Hamilton, Visiting Scientist, Neurology Victor Lizarraga, Visiting Graduate Research Fellow, Urology Fangmei Lu, Visiting High School Student, Neurology Randi Martin, Visiting Scientist, Neurology Tatiana Schnur, Visiting Scientist, Neurology

Tissue Engineering & Regenerative Medicine Sebastian Powell, Research Assistant I

Outcomes & Quality Doris Jackson, Visiting Postdoctoral Fellow, Human Resources

Transplant Immunology Wenhao Chen, Scientist Aini Xie, Postdoctoral Fellow 1

Transplant Immunology Yi Ting Serena Shen, Visiting Graduate Research Fellow, Medicine

Research Technology Tamara Coleman, Business Systems Analyst II Albert Prado, BI Specialist III


Houston Methodist Research Institute 6670 Bertner Ave. | Houston | TX 77030

Methodology Fall 2013