A year at Baylor: 2014 in review

Between announcements in research and new partnerships, it has been an exciting year at Baylor College of Medicine.

Before we open a new chapter and begin 2015, take a look at the highlights over the last year.

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Transforming Houston’s health care delivery

Three of the region’s leading medical institutions – Baylor, CHI St. Luke’s Health and the Texas Heart® Institute – significantly expanded and enhanced their long-standing educational, clinical and research affiliations in conjunction with Englewood, Colo.-based Catholic Health Initiatives, which sponsors and operates CHI St. Luke’s Health. Read more about the alliance.

Ebola’s impact

With the Ebola outbreak in West Africa, researchers and medical professionals turned their attention to treating the deadly disease.

Reflecting on genetic code’s golden anniversary

Baylor’s Drs. Thomas Caskey and Arthur Beaudet wrote in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, reflections on the major milestone in the genetics field: the 50th anniversary of the elucidation of the genetic code of life. Read more about Caskey and Beaudet’s research and their work in the genetics department at Baylor.

Match Day 2014

Celebrating Match Day at Baylor continues to grow with new surprises from our students amidst the celebration of our fourth-year students learning where they will continue their medical training. See highlights from Match Day 2014.

Sugarbaker tapped to lead new center

Dr. David Sugarbaker, an internationally recognized leader in thoracic surgery and mesothelioma, was named the leader of a new comprehensive lung disease center at Baylor. His vision for the Lung Institute includes a comprehensive program across departments and disciplines, with all of the College’s missions a part of the effort. Read the announcement. 

Baylor faculty named to the National Academy of Arts and Sciences

Dr. Dora E. Angelaki, the Wilhelmina Robertson Professor and chair of neuroscience at Baylor, and Dr. Martin Matzuk, director of the Center for Drug Discovery and professor in the Department of Pathology & Immunology, were named named to one of the nation’s most prestigious honorary societies – the National Academy of Arts and Sciences. Read more about Angelaki and Matzuk’s research.

Surgery’s simulator revamped

The Surgical Simulation Center in the Michael E. DeBakey Department of Surgery was revamped at the beginning of 2014. The $2 million upgrade included simulation models and virtual reality simulators to teach basic surgical skills. Read more about the Sim Center upgrades and see photos from the ribbon cutting.

Hotez honored

Dr. Peter Hotez, professor and dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor was recognized for his humanitarian duty with the Passion in Science Award from New England Biolabs. Additionally, Hotez was named U.S. Science Envoy. As one of four eminent scientists, he will travel to Saudi Arabia and Morocco.

Read more about Hotez’s award.

Learn more about Hotez’s selection as U.S. Science Envoy.

Pertussis vaccine and pregnancy

Baylor researchers found newborns whose mothers received the tetanus, diphtheria and acellular pertussis (Tdap) vaccine during pregnancy received immunity from their mothers at birth and in their first few months of life, and responded adequately to their own vaccinations. Drs. Flor Muñoz and Carol J. Baker discuss the study, their findings and the implications of their research.

American Society for Cell Biology honors Brinkley

Dr. William R. Brinkley, dean emeritus of the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences and distinguished service professor in the department of molecular and cellular biology at Baylor, was been named as one of the recipients of the E.B. Wilson Medal, the highest scientific honor of the American Society for Cell Biology. Read more about the award and Brinkley’s research.

Zoghbi receives honorary Yale University degree

Dr. Huda Zoghbi, professor of neuroscience, pediatrics, molecular and human genetics and neurology at Baylor was the recipient of an honorary Doctor of Medical Sciences degree from Yale University. The degree was presented during Yale’s 2014 commencement ceremony. Read more.

Mosaicism: Study clarifies parents as source of new disease mutations

Scientists have long speculated that mosaicism – a biological phenomenon in which cells within the same person have a different genetic makeup – plays a bigger role in the transmission of rare disease mutations than is currently known. A study conducted by an international team of scientists led by Baylor shed new light on the frequency of mosaicism in genomic disorders and its influence on recurrence risk. Read more about the research.

Human milk fat improves growth in premature infants

Researchers at the USDA/ARS Children’s Nutrition Research Center at Baylor College of Medicine and Texas Children’s Hospital successfully incorporated a cream supplement into premature infants’ diets that improved their growth outcomes in the NICU. Watch Dr. Hair explain the research.

New department chairs

Dr. Donald T. Donovan was named the Olga Keith Wiess Professor and Chairman of the Bobby R. Alford Department of Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery at Baylor, after leading the department as interim chair since 2010. Read more about Donovan’s appointment.

Dr. Daniel Yoshor was named chair of neurosurgery at Baylor. Since 2008 he has served as program director for the Baylor/MD Anderson neurosurgery residency program, one of the largest and most respected neurosurgery residency programs in the country. Read more about Yoshor’s appointment.

Dr. Brendan Lee was named chair of Baylor’s Department of Molecular and Human Genetics. Lee has been serving as interim chair since June of this year. Read more about Lee’s appointment.

2014 McNair Scholars

The McNair Scholar program at Baylor added four new researchers to its ranks in 2014. They included:

The program identifies established and rising stars in biomedical research to be recruited to Baylor. The program is supported by the Robert and Janice McNair Foundation and managed by the McNair Medical Institute.

McPherson awarded ophthalmology’s prestigious Gonin Medal

Dr. Alice McPherson, a professor of ophthalmology at Baylor and founder of the Retina Research Foundation, was selected for the oldest and most prestigious medal in ophthalmology, the Gonin Medal.  The Gonin Medal and diploma is awarded every four years to an ophthalmologist who is notable for his or her outstanding work or research. Read more about McPherson’s award.

Baylor, Texas Children’s join national collaboration to solve most difficult, rare medical cases

Baylor and Texas Children’s Hospital became part of a new national network of clinicians and scientists joining forces to address prolonged undiagnosed medical conditions as part of a newly awarded $7.3 million, four-year National Institutes of Health grant. The grant was one of six awarded as part of the NIH’s Undiagnosed Diseases Network. Read more about the award.

Brenner receives prestigious lifetime achievement honor

Renowned cell and gene therapy clinician-scientist Dr. Malcolm Brenner has received the prestigious Pioneer Award from the peer-reviewed journal Human Gene Therapy in recognition of his scientific achievements and leadership in the field. Read more about Brenner’s research and the award.

A special patient

Baylor doctors offered a helping hand to our neighbors at the Houston Zoo this summer. After 42-year old Cheyenne, the resident adoptive orangutan mom fell ill, our doctors were called in to consult and treat the sick primate. Read about how we helped treat Cheyenne, and helped get her on the road to recovery.

Read the Houston Chronicle’s report on our collaboration.

This isn’t the first time the College has collaborated with the Houston Zoo. In 2009, we struck a partnership when we began working together on research into Endotheliotropic Herpes Virus or EEHV. Read more about the collaboration.

Harnessing Watson’s power

You may remember IBM’s super computer Watson for beating two super smart Jeopardy contestants. And now, with the help of scientists and researchers, Watson is using his power to crunch data to help with biomedical research. Baylor computational biologists, with the help of IBM’s experts, engineered an app that that mines published medical research to generate testable hypothesis to direct lab research. The app called KnIT (Knowledge Integration Toolkit) helped identify new proteins to target in cancer research.

Time magazine reported the Baylor team identified six new proteins to target for cancer research: “How hard is that? Very. In the last 30 years, scientists have uncovered 28 protein targets, according to IBM. The Baylor team found half a dozen in a month.”

Read our press release about the study.

Read Time’s report on the app.

With all the events, developments and announcements, we can’t wait to see what 2015 will bring.

Additional Resources

Our popular posts, highlights from 2014

A look back at a year in viral videos at Baylor

By Audrey M. Marks

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