On March 25, it was my honor to affix my signature to a beautifully illustrated scroll recognizing the University of Houston as the 48th member institution of the Texas Medical Center (TMC). Signing alongside me were Welcome W. Wilson Sr., chairman of the UH System Board of Regents, Dr. Richard E. Wainerdi, M.D., TMC president, and David M. Underwood, chairman of the TMC Board of Directors.

With its elegant hand-painted lettering and gold-leaf accents, the scroll has an old-world appearance, but it represents UH’s rightful place in the largest medical center of the modern world.

The University of Houston has had a presence in the TMC for years, most notably our College of Pharmacy, our affiliation with The Methodist Hospital Research Institute, dual-degree programs in law, business and social work, and scientific collaborations among UH faculty and researchers at TMC medical institutions.

Now, in the midst of our drive to attain Tier-One status, formal membership in the TMC allows us to bring to the table our broad array of scientific expertise, particularly in university-based sciences such as math, physics, engineering, supercomputing, pharmacy and optometry, as well as key health-policy and management areas such as health law and health care administration. Additionally, UH’s public radio and television stations are playing a key role in establishing the TMC as the global nexus for medical and health information.

Membership in the TMC expands our health-related research — now representing 50 to 60 percent of our total research expenditures — in fields as varied as cell signaling, drug mechanisms, molecular design, bioimaging, toxicology, neurosciences, cancer biology, synthetic chemistry, stem cell research and genomics as well as health promotion and fitness.

And membership in the TMC underscores our commitment to lead in the development of the region’s health workforce. In fiscal year 2009, UH awarded about 1,200 bachelor’s degrees in health-related fields such as psychology, biology, biomedical engineering, and nutrition — amounting to 25 percent of the total number of bachelor’s degrees awarded. And more than one-third of UH’s Ph.D. degrees were awarded in health-related fields such as biology, chemistry, clinical psychology, kinesiology and physiological optics. These numbers will undoubtedly rise as we expand our health-related degree programs and add new health majors.

As we celebrate our official entry as the Texas Medical Center’s newest member institution, we do so in the belief that our UH Health initiative will grow and mature, further contributing to the region’s economy and the well-being of our citizens.

Renu Khator
UH System Chancellor and UH President