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METHODOLOGY The Research and Education Newsletter of Houston Methodist

Fall 2016

Houston Methodist receives $9 million federal grant to study the physics of cancer immunotherapy by Patricia Akinfenwa

The National Cancer Institute (NCI) has awarded the Houston Methodist Research Institute a $9 million U54 grant to establish the Center for Immunotherapeutic Transport Oncophysics (CITO), a research center focused on the physics of cancer immunotherapy. Under the leadership of President and CEO Mauro Ferrari, Ph.D., the Houston Methodist Research Institute will be the lead site for the NCIdesignated center, which will focus on designing immunotherapies for breast and pancreatic cancers. While several immunotherapies have been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the use of immunotherapy to treat these intractable cancers has been less effective. As a part of this grant, Houston Methodist will partner with the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center and UT Southwestern to explore physiological changes during cancer progression. Studying the body’s changes, rather than simply focusing on the tumor, will help researchers create more effective and personalized treatments with fewer side effects. >> CONT. PAGE THREE

$9 million grant is a testament to the “ This pioneering work our faculty and researchers are doing to further the emerging field of transport oncophysics. Researchers will one day create more personalized treatments for cancer patients as a result of this work. – Marc  L. Boom, M.D. President and Chief Executive Officer Houston Methodist

Contents Contents

FROM THE PRESIDENT Cancer is highly heterogeneous which means that no two cancers are the same, even if they are of the same type and in the same stage. In fact, even within a single patient, a tumor is constantly evolving and

Featured News

different regions of the tumor might have different characteristics.

Houston Methodist receives $9 million federal grant to study the physics of cancer immunotherapy................................. 1

This astonishing complexity of cancer has humbled many generations of researchers. So how can we out think a disease that is constantly changing and evolving? The answer lies in making cancer therapy precise and personal

Research Highlights:

– tailored to each patient and each tumor. At Houston Methodist,

Artificial intelligence expedites breast cancer risk prediction..............4

precision medicine is an area of intense focus and research. In this

Houston Methodist receives nearly $4 million from U.S. Department of Defense to combat lethal breast cancer..............6 Taking discoveries from bench to bedside and beyond...........8

issue of Methodology, you will read about how our dedicated team of cancer physicians and researchers are working on precision treatments for cancer. Houston Methodist has received a $9 million grant from the National Cancer Institute (NCI) to harness the power of the physics of cancer immunotherapy to make it more precise. This award is a recognition of our institution's pioneering contributions to the emerging field of transport oncophysics and will support the establishment of a multi-institutional effort called the Center for Immunotherapeutic Transport Oncophysics (CITO) that will be based at Houston Methodist. The center will integrate

Education News Summer program pairs students with top scientists............ 16 New GME programs......................... 17

diverse disciplines like advanced mathematics, biophysics, mechanical engineering, materials science, oncology and molecular biology to overcome the challenges associated with achieving effective targeted immunotherapy for cancer. The grant places us in a select group of 10 centers in the NCI's Physical Sciences-Oncology Centers (PS-OC) network that includes Johns Hopkins University, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.

Of Interest Awards & accolades.......................18 The Bricker Award for Science Writing in Medicine...........18 Upcoming events............................19 New faculty members.....................19

Rongfu Wang, Ph.D., and Jenny C. Chang, M.D., received $4 million from the Department of Defense to take a triple negative breast cancer immunotherapy into Phase I clinical trials. This therapy trains the immune system to safely and selectively target just breast tumor cells without affecting normal tissue. The most lethal form of breast cancer, triple negative breast cancer, is non-responsive to conventional chemotherapy and radiation resulting in high rates of relapse and mortality. Researchers at Houston Methodist are also designing new tools to improve diagnosis. Confronted by the high rates of false positives with mammograms and the resulting unnecessary biopsies, Stephen T. Wong, Ph.D., P.E., and Chang have developed an artificial intelligence program that can review mammogram data and patient charts to more accurately predict breast cancer risk. At Houston Methodist, we also realize that taking these exciting new discoveries from the laboratory to the clinic successfully is the ultimate test for any biomedical invention. We have made the benchto-bedside translation of innovation our primary focus and I invite you to read on and learn more about how our culture, infrastructure, people and resources are making that happen.

Mauro Ferrari, Ph.D. Ernest Cockrell Jr. Presidential Distinguished Chair President and CEO, Houston Methodist Research Institute Director, Institute for Academic Medicine at Houston Methodist Hospital Executive Vice President, Houston Methodist Senior Associate Dean and Professor of Medicine Weill Cornell Medical College, New York, NY

Read more online:


CITO to focus on more effective, targeted therapies The multidisciplinary and multi-institutional CITO research

The center’s goal is to use research information to personalize

team will combine the studies of cancer immunology,

immunotherapies for the treatment of breast and pancreatic

biotechnology and transport oncophysics (mass transport

cancers: topics of the two major center projects.

in cancer patients. Ferrari, the Ernest Cockrell Jr. Presidential Distinguished Chair, is considered to be one of the founders of the field of transport oncophysics.

cancer patients do not “ Many respond to immunotherapies, typically because the drugs never reach the cancer cells. The field of transport oncophysics, while still relatively young, will allow us to understand and overcome the limitations of cancer immunotherapies.

– Mauro Ferrari, Ph.D.

President and CEO Houston Methodist Research Institute

The first project will determine how nano-dendritic cell vaccines, containing immune cells loaded with nanoparticles, are transported to breast cancers. The second project aims to identify the transport barriers keeping immunotherapies from reaching pancreatic tumors.


within cancer cells) to reveal how immunotherapy works

MAURO FERRARI, Ph.D. Ernest Cockrell Jr. Presidential Distinguished Chair President and CEO, Houston Methodist Research Institute Director, Institute for Academic Medicine at Houston Methodist Hospital Executive Vice President, Houston Methodist

HAIFA SHEN, M.D., Ph.D. Associate Professor of Nanomedicine Houston Methodist

RONGFU WANG, Ph.D. Professor of Inflammation and Epigenetics Director, Center for Inflammation & Epigenetics Houston Methodist

ARTURAS ZIEMYS, Ph.D. Assistant Professor in Nanomedicine Houston Methodist

Massachusetts Institute of Technology Cambridge, MA Dana-Farber Cancer Institute Boston, MA Columbia University New York, NY Cornell University Ithaca, NY

University of Minnesota Minneapolis, MN Northwestern University Chicago, IL

Houston Methodist Research Institute Houston, TX

University of Pennsylvania Philadelphia, PA Johns Hopkins University Baltimore, MD

H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center & Research Institute Tampa, FL

Houston Methodist is one among 10 centers in the NCI's Physical Sciences-Oncology Centers (PS-OC) network that includes Johns Hopkins University, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.



Artificial Intelligence Expedites

Breast Cancer Risk Prediction by Patricia Akinfenwa

Stephen T. Wong, Ph.D.

Jenny C. Chang, M.D.

Tejal Patel, M.D.

Researchers at Houston Methodist have developed an artificial intelligence (AI) software that reliably interprets mammograms, assisting doctors with a quick and accurate prediction of breast cancer risk. According to a new study published in Cancer, the computer software intuitively translates patient charts into diagnostic information at 30 times human speed and with 99 percent accuracy. The team led by Stephen T. Wong, Ph.D., P.E., John S. Dunn, Sr. Presidential Distinguished Chair in Biomedical Engineering at the Houston Methodist Research Institute, and Jenny C. Chang, M.D., Emily Herrmann Chair in Cancer Research and director of the Houston Methodist Cancer Center, used the AI software to evaluate mammograms and pathology reports of 500 breast cancer patients. The software scanned patient charts, collected diagnostic features and correlated mammogram findings with breast cancer subtype. Clinicians used results, like the expression of tumor proteins, to accurately predict each patient’s probability of breast cancer diagnosis.



software intelligently reviews millions of records in a short “ This amount of time, enabling us to determine breast cancer risk

more efficiently using a patient’s mammogram. This has the potential to decrease unnecessary biopsies. – Stephen T. Wong, Ph.D.

John  S. Dunn, Sr. Presidential Distinguished Chair in Biomedical Engineering Houston Methodist

99% accuracy 30 times human speed Decreases unnecessary biopsies

In the United States, 12.1 million mammograms are performed

The Houston Methodist team hopes this artificial intelligence

annually, according to the Centers for Disease Control and

software will help physicians better define the percent risk

Prevention or the CDC. Due to the false positive rate of

requiring a biopsy, equipping doctors with a tool to decrease

mammography, the American Cancer Society (ACS) estimates

unnecessary breast biopsies.

that one in every two healthy women will be erroneously told that they might have cancer. Currently, when mammograms fall into the suspicious category, a broad range of 3 to 95 percent cancer risk, patients are recommended for biopsies. Over 1.6 million breast biopsies are performed annually nationwide, and about 20 percent are unnecessarily performed due to false-positive mammogram results from cancer-free breasts, estimates the ACS.

Manual review of 50 charts took two clinicians 50-70 hours. AI reviewed 500 charts in a few hours, saving over 500 physician hours. “Accurate review of this many charts would be practically impossible without AI,” says Wong. Patel TA, Puppala M, Ogunti RO, Ensor JE, He T, Shewale JB, et al. Correlating mammographic and pathologic findings in clinical decision support using natural language processing and data mining methods. Cancer. 2016 Aug 29 [Epub ahead of print] The research was supported in part by the John S. Dunn Research Foundation.



Houston Methodist Receives Nearly

$4 Million


U.S. Department of Defense to combat

Lethal Breast Cancer by Patricia Akinfenwa

Scientists at Houston Methodist received support from the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) to reprogram cancer patients’ immune cells to attack triple negative breast cancer, the most lethal form of breast cancer. The DoD awarded Rongfu Wang, Ph.D., professor of inflammation & epigenetics and director of the Center for Inflammation and Epigenetics, and Jenny C. Chang, M.D., Emily Herrmann Chair in Cancer Research and director of the Houston Methodist Cancer Center, nearly $4 million to create a triple negative breast cancer immunotherapy that retrains the immune system to safely target and eliminate breast tumors and spare normal tissue. The team removes immune cells from a triple negative breast cancer patient and isolates T cells, a small population of immune cells that help the body fight cancer and other diseases. Receptors of the tumor marker NY-ESO-1 are attached to the patient’s T cells to recognize and capture cancer cells expressing the tumor marker. The modified NY-ESO-1 T cells are injected back into the patient as a personalized immunotherapy that guides the patient’s immune system to identify and destroy breast cancer cells.




7 2,043 814,309 101,508 20,000

Wang led the team of researchers who identified the tumor marker NY-ESO-1, a protein found in only tumors and testes tissue. The absence of NY-ESO-1 from most normal tissues limits its side effects when used as an immunotherapy target. The DoD grant allows the Houston Methodist team to use NY-ESO-1 T cells to target triple negative breast cancer. Recent clinical studies showed a 55 to 80 percent response rate of NY-ESO-1 T cells in treating patients diagnosed with metastatic synovial sarcoma, melanoma and myeloma, revealing NY-ESO-1 as an effective immunotherapy target for solid cancers. The highly specific tumor marker is expressed in 30 percent of tumors from triple negative breast cancer patients. Breast cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death in women, according to the American Cancer Society. Ongoing research has kept survival rates at close to 100 percent in patients with early diagnosis of local disease. Rates plummet to a median of three years when the disease spreads to distant sites. Triple negative tumors lack the expression of three receptors: estrogen, progesterone and HER2, leaving most radiation and chemotherapies ineffective, toxic and ultimately

4,500 1,607 “ 603 567 44 11,734 1,001

Hospitals Operating beds Outpatient visits Admissions


Physicians Credentialed researchers Faculty Trainees

(residents, postdoctoral fellows & students)

GME programs CME, GME & MITIE learners Clinical protocols


Sq.ft. dedicated research building with 12 stories and 150 lab benches


Additional sq.ft. research space embedded throughout the hospital

$48 M $131 M

Annual extramural funding Annual research expenditures

resulting in disease relapse and death. Wang, the lead investigator, and his team have studied the use of NY-ESO-1 in cancer vaccines and immunotherapy for nearly two decades. 9



FROM BENCH TO AND BEYOND Product Development at Houston Methodist by Maitreyi Muralidhar

“ Health care innovations come at a steep cost. It can take more than a decade and a few billion dollars for medical discoveries to get to those who need it ─ the patients. Through our bench-to-bedside approach to innovation, we are committed to changing this.

– Mauro Ferrari, Ph.D.

President and CEO Houston Methodist Research Institute

The rapid pace of scientific advances has resulted in many landmark medical discoveries. However, only a few of these have made it to the clinic and to patients. Too many promising new treatments are lost in the process of translation from the lab to the clinic – a loss we cannot afford. Translating laboratory innovations into potential treatments for patients is fraught with challenges. Lack of easy access to resources including funding, technical expertise, U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-approved current good manufacturing practice (cGMP) facilities, good laboratory practice (GLP) facilities and clinical trials support makes it extremely difficult to turn fundamental discoveries into tangible solutions that benefit the public. This phase of translational research where most innovations die is aptly referred to as the ‘Valley of Death’.





At Houston Methodist, our research enterprise was built to support the unique needs inherent to conducting translational research and to move laboratory discoveries rapidly across the Valley of Death. To achieve this, we have put in place key strategies that govern all aspects of product development.

KEY STRATEGIESFor Product Development



Investing in Infrastructure


Catalyzing Commercialization


Incentivizing Innovation


Training the Next Generation of Innovators

Investing in Infrastructure

Houston Methodist has built state-of-the-art facilities on-site to support the full cycle of discovery. Most academic institutions and small companies lack this kind of infrastructure, making product development time-consuming, complicated and expensive as they have to outsource critical steps to external organizations. With this in mind, we are establishing collaborations and memorandums of understanding with Johnson & Johnson's new Center for Device Innovation at the Texas Medical Center (CDI @ TMC) and other TMC partners to allow them easy access to our research cores and infrastructure. This will enable a wide range of product development work benefiting both internal and external innovators.


Cyclotron and Radiopharmaceutical Core The Cyclotron and Radiopharmaceutical Core is a cGMP-compliant facility that produces clinical–grade and rare custom radiopharmaceuticals for research and medical applications. Housed right below the imaging suite, it allows researchers to perform studies using radioisotopes with short half-lives. Core director: Meixiang (Max) Yu, Ph.D. |

cGMP Core This facility provides a cGMP compliant and cost-effective route to translating novel therapeutics (mRNA, nanomaterials and nanoparticles) and devices into research and clinical-grade materials for preclinical and first-in-human studies. The core provides not only the infrastructure and equipment for cGMP manufacturing and release, but also the expertise to guide and implement cGMP protocols for investigators. Core director: Christopher Lincoln, Ph.D. |

GLP Facilities The GLP facilities at Houston Methodist are equipped to perform risk, safety and efficacy assessment studies in compliance with current FDA guidelines in preclinical models. Adherence to GLP standards is required for safety studies in order to move to clinical trials. Core director: Tanya Herzog, DVM, DACLAM |

Clinical Research Services Core The core provides outpatient clinical care and study management services, including research, nursing, regulatory submissions and budget management support for all phases of clinical trials. Through the Cockrell Centers for Advanced Therapeutics Clinical Research Phase 1 Unit, the core provides early phase clinical trials support such as advanced pharmacokinetic and pharmacodynamic evaluations. Core director: Pauline Todd, MBA, BSN, RN |

Other Core Facilities MITIE Procedural Skills Development • Advanced Cellular and Tissue Microscopy • Biomedical Informatics SM

Support • Biomicrofluidics • Biostatistics • Comparative Medicine • Electron Microscopy • Flow Cytometry • Intravital Microscopy • Machine Shop • Molecular Diagnostics • Peptidomics Nanoengineering • Nanoengineering • Preclinical Catheterization Laboratory • Research Pathology • RNAcore • Biorepository • Translational Imaging Core




Catalyzing Commercialization

To identify discoveries and accelerate them to market, Houston Methodist has established resources that are geared towards interfacing and collaborating with researchers and innovators. By identifying their needs early and finding services and facilities within the institution that can fulfill their needs, Houston Methodist has created an environment that supports and nurtures innovation and commercialization.

Rapid Device Translation The Center for Rapid Device Translation acts as the gateway for partnering with the research cores and clinical research resources at Houston Methodist. It facilitates and fosters collaboration between Houston Methodist and external companies and researchers who are seeking state-of-the-art research facilities like FDA-certified cGMP and GLP facilities and early-stage clinical trials infrastructure, to steer their innovations through the pathway of medical product development.

Strategic Research Initiatives Through the Office of Strategic Research Initiatives, Houston Methodist provides complete life cycle management support, operational and regulatory oversight for translational research projects. The office offers guidance on future directions and prioritization of goals for product development, clinical trials and commercialization. They work closely with investigators and core directors to develop and implement cGMP protocols, plan for preclinical animal studies under GLP conditions, and ensure communication with the Office of Technology Transfer regarding intellectual property filings. They also assist with managing regulatory submissions. Program director: Christina Talley, M.S., RAC, CCRP, CCRC |

Technology Transfer and Commercialization The Office of Technology Transfer supports rapid transfer of Houston Methodist technological innovations to the patient. The office closely collaborates with researchers to identify promising inventions and guides them through the path to commercialization by evaluating commercial potential, identifying commercial partners and negotiating licensing terms. Director: John Schultz |


Houston Methodist has established resources that are geared towards interfacing and collaborating with researchers and innovators.


Incentivizing Innovation

The Translational Research Initiative (TRI) was created to help move medical discoveries across the valley of death – an expensive and risky endeavor for which extramural funding sources are very limited. With support from generous philanthropists, we have created this matching challenge program with a $10 million philanthropic fund. This model will provide the financial support and resources needed to advance Houston Methodist’s most promising developments through preclinical studies, FDA approvals, and ultimately Phase I and II clinical trials. The goal of the TRI fund is to accelerate laboratory discovery to human application in just a few years and not decades.

nal Research Initi atio ati l s ve n Houston Methodist Tra



Valley of Death


Magnetic Cap for Stroke Recovery A wearable cap-like device that uses magnetic fields to stimulate selective parts of the brain to promote recovery in stroke patients. Diagnostic Test to Predict Liver Transplant Outcomes

Translational Research Initiative

Unique to Houston Methodist A diagnostic assay that can predict liver transplant outcomes beforehandPatient to prevent futile liver transplants. Idea

Imaging Probe for Monitoring Lymphoma Relapse and Therapy Response Valley of Death

A highly specific PET imaging probe that can detect lymphoma relapse and monitor treatment response.

Neurostimulation for Advanced Stroke Care  Vagus nerve stimulation device to deliver additional protective therapy during surgery and emergency care in the treatment of stroke. nal Research Init atio o Houston Metho iative dist nsl ue t




Training the Next Generation of Innovators

At Houston Methodist, our mission is to find solutions for the health care challenges of today, and at the same time foster innovations of the future by training and mentoring the next generation of physicians and researchers who can take their inventions to the clinic. To achieve this, we are partnering with academic institutions that share our vision.

Houston Methodist Institute for Technology, Innovation & Education (MITIE ) SM

An innovative virtual hospital, MITIE is equipped with a suite of research operating rooms and procedural skills labs to test newly developed technologies, devices and procedures in a safe, simulated clinical care setting. Once the efficacy of a new technology or procedure is proven, at MITIE, practicing health care professionals can develop processes and management practices for ensuring smooth transition of the innovations to the clinic and hone their technique for safely adopting the new technologies.

EnMed A joint venture between Texas A&M University and Houston Methodist Hospital, EnMed is an engineering medical school track that will equip doctors with the skills needed to invent transformational health care technology. Through the amalgamation of clinical skills and engineering mindset, this innovative track will prepare a unique kind of doctor who can develop new technologies and take them to the clinic to solve health care problems.

Master in Clinical Translation Management The Master in Clinical Translation Management program, offered by the University of St. Thomas Cameron School of Business and the Houston Methodist Research Institute, will train a new generation of biomedical entrepreneurs. This program aims to bridge the gap between science and business by training both researchers interested in the business side of medical technology and entrepreneurs looking to gain insights into the biomedical sector.


Product Development Highlights


V-chip A device about the size of a business card developed by nanomedicine researcher Lidong Qin, Ph.D., allows health care providers to test biomarkers for conditions like cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, substance abuse, and pregnancy, all at the same time—with one drop of blood. Houston Methodist and Ovagene Oncology, Inc. have entered into an agreement to develop this technology into a commercial product.

The V-chip can bring tests to the bedside and remote areas. It is accurate, cheap, and portable. It requires only a drop of blood, and can do 50 different tests at a time.

– Lidong Qin, Ph.D., Inventor of V-chip Professor of Nanomedicine Houston Methodist

Magnetic Cap

Magnetic Cap for Stroke Stroke is the leading cause of disability worldwide. Houston Methodist researchers Santosh Helekar, M.D., Ph.D., and David Chiu, M.D., have developed a portable, wireless magnetic stimulation cap that shows promise in restoring motor function in stroke patients. The device is currently being tested in clinical trials. The inventors are exploring licensing opportunities and are working towards submission for regulatory clearance.

This wearable, portable, affordable device can revolutionize treatment options for

stroke patients. It can be controlled by a smartphone app, making it suitable for in-home use.

– Santosh Helekar, M.D., Ph.D., Inventor of Magnetic Cap

AnatomicAligner James Xia, M.D., Ph.D., and his team have developed a novel computer-based imaging and informatics platform called the AnatomicAligner to provide a more accurate and faster method for presurgical planning of craniomaxillofacial surgeries. The software is being verified and validated by a third party expert. The team is also working towards seeking regulatory clearance and exploring commercialization strategies.


Associate Professor of Neurology Houston Methodist

AnatomicAligner is far more accurate, cost effective and faster than using stone dental models, the current gold-standard for presurgical planning.

– James Xia, M.D., Ph.D., Inventor of AnatomicAligner Professor of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery Houston Methodist



Summer Program Pairs Students with Top Scientists by Heather Hoffmann

For the 12th consecutive year, Houston Methodist hosted the Summer Research Internship Program. The 10-week educational program paired 64 students with faculty research mentors. Attendees included high school students, medical students (MD/PhD) from Monterrey Tech and undergraduate students from universities like Emory, Columbia, Cambridge and Johns Hopkins. In the Stanley H. Appel Department of Neurology, intern

developed the cap in collaboration with Henning Voss, Ph.D.,

Elizabeth Joseph, an undergraduate at the University of Houston,

associate professor of physics in radiology at Weill Cornell

tested a magnetic cap that was developed to noninvasively

Medical College.

stimulate areas deep inside the brain for the treatment of conditions like stroke and stuttering. She sought to determine if the cap could be used to disrupt the rubber hand illusion, a body reality distortion that occurs when a research subject perceives a rubber hand as their own after watching an experimenter simultaneously stroke the subject’s hand and a lifelike rubber hand. Joseph stimulated the cerebral cortex of capped research subjects and was able to disrupt their perceived ownership of the rubber hand.


Helekar and Voss designed this skullcap with fast-spinning neodymium magnets to deliver magnetic stimuli to multiple areas of the brain. The transcranial rotating permanent magnet stimulator (TRPMS) cap allows the triggering and control of magnetic brain stimulation through an app on a smartphone. Transcranial magnetic stimulation, a well-established brain stimulation method, has already been cleared by the FDA for treatment of depression and migraine. Ongoing collaborations between the Helekar lab and neurologists at Houston Methodist

Joseph was supervised by Santosh Helekar, M.D., Ph.D.,

Hospital are exploring cap applications for stroke recovery,

associate professor of neurology at Houston Methodist, who

stuttering, chronic pain, depression, Parkinson's disease, and

Amy Wright, MBA, Ed.D., manager of the Office of Graduate Studies and

Houston Methodist Hospital is announcing the

investigate the use of the TRPMS cap to treat patients who have the illusion of severe pain in the missing portion of their amputated limb –

Trainee Affairs, says the selection committee considers an essay and

addition of six new graduate medical education

letters of recommendation in addition to GPA to choose participants.

(GME) training programs. We invite you visit

This year, the top 20 students received a merit-based stipend of $5,000 to read more

to offset travel and housing costs. The program is structured to allow

about what the programs offer and their

visiting students the opportunity to establish a support network at social

application process.


a condition called phantom limb pain.

New GME Programs

other neurological and psychiatric disorders. Future studies will also

events. Lectures on research and professional development round out the learning experience with a faculty mentor. The interns worked with mentors from a wide spectrum of research areas including biomedical

ACGME-Accredited Programs

informatics and systems medicine, cancer, computational surgery, cardiovascular sciences, immunobiology and inflammation, nanomedicine, neurosciences, regenerative medicine, and surgery.

Selective Pathology – Breast Gynecologic Pathology Program director: Michael Deavers, M.D. First fellow started July 1, 2016

Urology Program director: Rose Khavari, M.D. First residents expected in July 2017

Female Pelvic Medicine & Reconstructive Surgery Program director: Tristi Muir, M.D. First fellows expected to start in July 2017

Diagnostic Radiology Program director: Mark Sultenfuss, M.D. First residents expected in July 2018

Non-ACGME Programs Neuroimaging Program director: Joseph Masdeu, M.D., Ph.D. First fellow started July 1, 2016

Spine Surgery Program director: Rex Marco, M.D. First fellows started July 1, 2016




Mauro Ferrari, Ph.D., Honored with the Panama Science Medal Mauro Ferrari, Ph.D., president and CEO of the Houston Methodist Research Institute, was honored with the Panama Science Medal for his outstanding contributions to nanomedicine & cancer research. The award was presented at the Institute of Scientific Research and High Technology Services Symposium in the Republic of Panama. Ferrari is one of a select few to receive this honor, joining Nobel Laureate Robert Huber, Ph.D., and Moncef Slouai, Ph.D., from GlaxoSmithKline pharmaceuticals.

James M. Musser, M.D., Ph.D., Receives the 2017 ASIP Rous-Whipple Award Chair of the Department of Pathology & Genomic Medicine and Fondren Presidential Distinguished Chair, James M. Musser, M.D., Ph.D., was named the 2017 recipient of the American Society for Investigative Pathology (ASIP) RousWhipple award. The award honors distinguished researchers for their contributions to the advancement of the field.

Steven M. Petak, M.D., J.D., Awarded the Paul Miller Service Award Associate Professor of Clinical Medicine and Division Head for Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism, Steven M. Petak, M.D., J.D., received the Paul Miller Service Award from the International Society for Clinical Densitometry for dedicated service to the organization. Petak was also recently awarded the Yank Coble Award of the American College of Endocrinology.

Alessandro Grattoni, Ph.D., Recognized by the AIDS Foundation of Houston with the Shelby Hodge Award The AIDS Foundation of Houston will honor Alessandro Grattoni, Ph.D., the Department of Nanomedicine and the Houston Methodist Research Institute with the Shelby Hodge Award for developing the refillable nanochannel implant for administering pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) drugs to subjects at risk of HIV-exposure. The award recognizes individuals or institutions for demonstrating extraordinary vision in addressing the challenges posed by HIV/AIDS.

The Bricker Award for Science Writing in Medicine Amy Maxmen, Ph.D., an award-winning freelance science journalist, is the very first recipient of The Bricker Award for Science Writing in Medicine. She delivered the inaugural Bricker Award Lectureship at the Houston Methodist Research Institute on Thursday, October 27, 2016. A former scientist who left the laboratory for the newsroom, Maxmen writes about the impact of science on the public, about the nuances of biomedicine, and about the lives of researchers. Her work has appeared in several prominent outlets, including Newsweek, National Geographic, and The Economist.



Amy Maxmen, Ph.D.

Freelance Writer

November 11, 2016

February 10, 2017

11th Annual Peggy and Gary Edwards Distinguished ALS Lecture

Houston Heart Failure Summit - 2nd Annual CME credit available

November 19, 2016

February 24, 2017

7th Annual Multi-Modality Cardiovascular Imaging for the Clinician CME credit available

Annual Adult Congenital Heart Symposium CME credit available

November 30, 2016

February 28, 2017

Functional Medicine: A Systems Approach to Chronic Disease and Wellness CME credit available

Paul H. Jordan Jr., M.D. Annual Lectureship CME credit available

December 05, 2016

The 3rd Annual MAPTA Winter Science Symposium 2016



March 09, 2017

Acute and Chronic Pulmonary Embolism Conference - Inaugural

Go to for more information.


received his doctorate in neuroscience at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and was a postdoctoral fellow at the University of California, San Francisco. His research pioneered methods for studying neural tissue from pluripotent stem cells to discover therapeutic strategies for targeting brain developmental disorders and neuropathologies. At the Houston Methodist Research Institute Center for Neuroregeneration, Krencik will focus on harnessing the power of astrocytes to restore brain and spinal cord function after injury and disease.

Robert C. Rostomily, M.D., who was professor of neurosurgery at the University of Washington, joined the Houston Methodist Department of Neurosurgery in early November. He will serve as the codirector of Gamma Knife Radiosurgery and director of translational research in the Department of Neurosurgery with a clinical focus on skull base and brain tumor surgery and gamma knife radiosurgery. Rostomily’s research interests include glioma invasion, aging and molecular heterogeneity. He will be involved in developing programs in glioma stem cell electrophysiology and preclinical testing platforms for personalized treatment of brain tumors.

Jin Wang, Ph.D., joined the Houston Methodist Immunobiology & Transplant Science Center in August 2016. His research has elucidated mechanisms regulating immunological memory that influence strategies for cancer immunotherapy and vaccine development. Before coming to Houston Methodist, he was the Jack L. Titus Endowed Professor in the Department of Pathology & Immunology at Baylor College of Medicine.

Kyuson Yun, Ph.D., joined the Department of Neurosurgery in September 2016. Previously, she was a senior research scientist at Jackson Labs. Yun’s research efforts have focused on studying brain cancer stem cells, a subset of cancer cells that are responsible for therapy resistance and tumor recurrence. She is developing novel therapies to eliminate cancer stem cells and a new drug testing platform to optimize personalized treatment in the clinic.


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

BOARD OF DIRECTORS Houston Methodist Research Institute Steven D. Arnold

Joe B. Foster

John F. Bookout

Antonio M. Gotto, M.D., D.Phil.

John F. Bookout, III

Mark A. Houser

Marc L. Boom, M.D.

Catherine S. Jodeit

Timothy Boone, M.D., Ph.D.

Evan H. Katz

Giorgio Borlenghi

Rev. Kenneth R. Levingston

Joseph R. "Rod" Canion

Vidal G. Martinez

Albert Chao

Gregory V. Nelson

Augustine M. K. Choi, M.D.

Stuart W. Stedman

Ernest D. Cockrell, II

Andrew C. Von Eschenbach, M.D.

John P. Cooke, M.D., Ph.D.

Martha Walton

Dan O. Dinges

Elizabeth B. Wareing

Mauro Ferrari, Ph.D.

Ewing Werlein, Jr.

METHODOLOGY The Research and Education Newsletter of Houston Methodist

Editor-in-Chief Rebecca Hall, Ph.D. Managing Editor and Writer Maitreyi Muralidhar, M.S. Copy Editor Thomas Ellington Design & Creative Lead Doris T. Huang

Contributing Writers Patricia Akinfenwa, Ph.D. Heather Hoffmann, M.D. Maitreyi Muralidhar, M.S. Public Relations Contact Gale Smith 832.667.5843

Read more online: Office of Communications and External Relations Institute for Academic Medicine Houston Methodist IAMNEWS-007 | 11.2016 | 1500

Methodology Newsletter Fall 2016