Baylor College of Medicine and the University of Houston are teaming up for new research collaborations. The two Texas Medical Center member institutions have awarded grant funding for nine research projects, each with investigators from both schools, as part of a pilot program resulting from a 2019 Memorandum of Understanding between Baylor College of Medicine and UH to foster new partnerships and research collaborations.
The grants will give awardees $60,000 over 18 months, with each institution providing half the funding. The winners cover research in a wide variety of subjects, including oncology, cardiology, genetics, biochemistry, virology, ophthalmology, molecular biology, nutrition and health services.
“Baylor College of Medicine and the University of Houston have unique strengths and resources that can contribute to an outstanding platform for population health and precision medicine,” said Dr. Ashok Balasubramanyam, vice president for academic integration at Baylor. “Nine excellent projects were selected from a very large and competitive pool. This joint research collaboration will greatly enhance scientific innovation and discovery that will benefit both our institutions and the city of Houston.”
“The impact of the synergy between the clinical research depth of Baylor and the fundamental and technological biomedical research of the University of Houston will be transformative,” said Amr Elnashai, UH vice president for research and technology transfer. “The cohesion of the two research visions was demonstrated from the very first meeting and continues to date. I cannot think of a better, more collaborative and capable research partner than Baylor.”
The full list of winners is:
- Na Li, assistant professor of medicine – cardiovascular research at Baylor, and Bradley K. McConnell, associate professor of pharmacology at UH, will work on a project titled, “Reprogrammed Cardiac Progenitor Cells into Cardiac Conduction Cells for Heart Repair.”
- Nagireddy Putluri, associate professor of molecular and cellular biology and director of the metabolics core at Baylor, and Krishna M. Boini, assistant professor of pharmacology at UH, will work on a project called “Role of Trimethylamine-N-Oxide in renal aging.”
- Bijan Najafi, professor of surgery and director of clinical research in the division of vascular surgery and endovascular therapy, and Beom Chan Lee, assistant professor of health and human performance at UH, will work on a project called “Remotely-Supervised Game-Based Exercise Platform for Improving Cognition and Motor Function in Adult Cancer Survivors Using Telemedicine.”
- Andrew Rice, Nancy Chang, Ph.D. Endowed Professor in the Department of Molecular Virology and Microbiology at Baylor, and Qin Feng, associate professor of biology and biochemistry at UH, will work on a project called “Discovery of pharmacological modulators for NEAT1 IncRNA and reactivation of latent HIV-1.”
- V. Prasad, professor and Alvin Romansky Chair in biochemistry and molecular biology at Baylor, and Joydip Das, professor of medicinal chemistry at UH, will work on a project called “Structural Basis for Munc13-1’s Regulation by Bryostatin 1.”
- Kendal Hirschi, professor of pediatrics – nutrition and molecular and human genetics at Baylor, and Xinli Liu, associate professor of pharmaceutics at UH, will work on a project called “Dietary Plant-Based Exosome-Like Xanoparticles Impact the Human Gut Microbiome.”
- Malgorzata Borowiak, assistant professor of molecular and cellular biology and Emeritus McNair Scholar at Baylor, and Fatima A. Merchant, associate professor of engineering technology and computational health informatics at UH, will work on a project called “Impact of Cell Microenvironment on Differentiation and Physiology of Induced Pluripotent Stem Cells into Pancreatic Islet Cells.”
- J. Timothy Stout, Sid W. Richardson Professor, and Margarett Root Brown Chair of the Department of Ophthalmology and director of the Cullen Eye Institute at Baylor, and Kamran Alba, assistant professor of mechanical engineering technology at UH, will work on a project called “Cataract Surgery Transformation Through Development of a Novel Artificial Hydrogel.”
- David Wheeler, professor of molecular and human genetics at Baylor, and Frank D. McKeon, professor of biology and biochemistry and director of the Somatic Stem Cell Center at UH, will work on a project called “Haploid Genome Duplication: Mechanistic Insights into a Shortcut in Cancer Evolution.”