January 31, 2019
We have forged a wonderful collaboration between the medical school and Rice University. I am delighted to provide an update on some of our activities.
Just this week we announced a new joint program, the Medical Humanities Program, designed to enhance the intellectual diversity of medical student applicants. The program will provide a new academic pathway to medical school for Rice undergraduates who are majoring in the humanities. Up to eight qualified Rice juniors a year will be accepted into the program in spring 2020.
In 2017, we awarded our first round of collaborative seed grants to encourage Rice and McGovern scientists to work together in the areas of women and children’s health. Three teams were funded to perform studies of spina bifida, congenital diaphragmatic hernia, and sickle cell disease. We are working with Rice to fund our second group of “SPARK” grants to spark novel research and/or novel collaborations between McGovern Medical School and Rice scientists in the broad area of neuro and behavioral science. Be on the lookout for specifics and deadlines. Dr. Laura Goetzl, professor of obstetrics and gynecology, is spearheading these new awards together with Professor Marcie O’Malley from Rice.
Our collaborations with Rice are just getting started. Another very exciting new proposal is the development of a five-year joint MD/Masters of Engineering Program with Rice’s George R. Brown School of Engineering. We are working closely with Professor Gang Bao and Dean Reginald DesRoches to design the curriculum. Under the leadership of Dr. Nitin Tandon, we also are working to advance the development of translational neural engineering technologies. This is being facilitated through collaborative research projects and shared faculty recruitments between UTHealth and Rice University.
We owe a thank you to many people for these exciting endeavors. I will start with Rice Provost Marie Lynn Miranda, who has become a great friend of UTHealth. Without her ongoing support, none this would have happened. A specialist in environmental health and how the environment impacts children, Dr. Miranda is the Howard R. Hughes Provost, a professor of statistics at Rice, and an adjunct professor of pediatrics at Duke University and Baylor College of Medicine. She is a Phi Beta Kappa, summa cum laude graduate of Duke University and earned her master’s and doctorate from Harvard University. She joined Rice as the provost in 2015, and her collaborative approach to research and science is inspiring.
Dr. Gang Bao is an old friend of mine from Atlanta. When he was a professor at Georgia Tech and I was at Emory, he worked with Emory faculty to develop a research program in pediatric bioengineering and nanomedicine. To my great dismay he decided to leave Georgia Tech and move to Rice – about 6 months before I decided to move to Houston as well. What a great coincidence and opportunity to collaborate again! Gang is a world-renowned scientist and the Foyt Family Professor of Bioengineering, professor of chemistry, CPRIT scholar in cancer research, and associate dean for research and innovation at Rice. Rice’s new dean of engineering, Dr. Reginald DesRoches, the William and Stephanie Sick Dean of the George R. Brown School of Engineering, has been wonderfully supportive of moving forward with collaborative engineering efforts on the Rice front. Dr. DesRoches also has Georgia Tech roots – having joined the faculty there after completing his PhD at the University of California, Berkeley. He moved to Rice from Georgia Tech in 2018.
Dr. Marcie O’Malley, adviser to the provost on educational and research initiatives for collaborative health and professor of mechanical engineering, of computer science and of electrical and computer engineering; Dr. Stacey Kalovidouris, executive director of educational and research initiatives for collaborative health in the office of the adviser to the provost; Dr. Jane Grande-Allen, Isabel C. Cameron Professor of Bioengineering and chair of the Department of Bioengineering; and Dr. Rebecca Richards-Kortum, Malcolm Gillis University Professor, professor of bioengineering and director of Rice 360, Institute for Global Health, all are playing pivotal roles in moving collaborations forward.
Thank you to our own McGovern team making this happen, including Drs. Margaret McNeese, Patricia Butler, Dana McDowelle, Allison Ownby, Laura Goetzl, Kevin Lally, Nitin Tandon, Eric Solberg, and Nicole Dubuque.
I am impressed by the creativity that is bridging these two remarkable institutions. Rice is more than a great neighbor – Rice is a great partner.