Texas A&M Institute of Biosciences and Technology joins Gulf Coast Consortia, further propels team science across Texas Medical Center

March 4, 2015
Two researchers working in a lab at the Texas A&M Institute of Biosciences and Technology

The Texas A&M Health Science Center Institute of Biosciences and Technology in Houston has been named the newest member of the Gulf Coast Consortia.

The Texas A&M Health Science Center Institute of Biosciences and Technology (IBT) in Houston has been named the newest member of the Gulf Coast Consortia (GCC), a Houston-Galveston area organization and one of the largest inter-institutional academic cooperatives in the nation focused on building strong, collaborative, biomedical research groups and interdisciplinary training opportunities for students.

A dynamic, inter-institutional collaboration of basic and translational scientists, researchers, clinicians and students, the GCC merges the strengths of its member institutions to establish interdisciplinary research and training initiatives in the quantitative biomedical sciences, with an end goal of applying the resulting knowledge to the treatment and prevention of disease.

Texas A&M IBT joins Baylor College of Medicine, Rice University, University of Houston, The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth), The University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston (UTMB), and University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center as the newest member of the GCC. IBT is the first new member to join the Consortia since it was first established in 2001.

“The Texas A&M IBT has benefited tremendously from collaborations with institutions within the GCC and across the Texas Medical Center,” said Cheryl Walker, Ph.D., director of the Texas A&M IBT.  “Membership in the GCC now provides an opportunity to bring many of the strengths of Texas A&M IBT to the consortium, including world-class research in human environmental health, biomedical engineering, veterinary medicine and drug development.” Such examples include the Center for Translational Environmental Health Research (CTEHR), one of only 20 NIH-designated Centers of Excellence in environmental health research in the country, and the Texas OneGulf research center, newly designated by the state of Texas in response to the BP oil spill under the congressionally mandated RESTORE Act.

Kathleen Matthews, Ph.D., chair emeritus of the GCC and Stewart Memorial Professor, biochemistry and cell biology, Rice University, said, “We are thrilled that Texas A&M IBT has become the seventh member of the GCC, and we look forward to further engaging Texas A&M IBT faculty, researchers, students and staff in the many GCC research and training enterprises. Texas A&M IBT’s strengths in translational, cancer biology, and environmental health research fit very well with GCC’s existing and future scientific endeavors.”

The research arm of the GCC allows researchers with particular interests in interdisciplinary areas to connect and collaborate, and often, form new consortiums. One such entity is the John S. Dunn Gulf Coast Consortium for Chemical Genomics, which the Texas A&M IBT has led since 2011. The chemical genomics consortium brings together leading scientists from across Texas institutions with the aim of developing a multi-institutional academic drug discovery program. Through state-of-the-art research technologies, including high throughput equipment housed at the Texas A&M IBT, scientists are seeking new drug “cocktails” that can be used to address a number of health issues.

“Team science is becoming an increasingly important strategy in solving difficult scientific questions, particularly questions that have to do with human health and disease,” said Peter Davies, Ph.D., M.D., professor and director of the Center for Translational Cancer Research at the Texas A&M IBT and head of the John S. Dunn Gulf Coast Consortium for Chemical Genomics. “The GCC breaks down barriers to this team science approach, bringing together the best talent, across translational boundaries and from multiple institutions, in order to develop creative research programs to improve human health.”

The latest announcement is further evidence of the Health Science Center’s continued success as a burgeoning academic institution within the world-renowned Texas Medical Center. Last January, the institution announced expansion plans for the Houston campus for future construction of a multidisciplinary research and education building adjacent to the Albert B. Alkek Building that currently houses the Texas A&M IBT; and this summer, the institution launched a partnership with Houston Methodist, affording Texas A&M medical students the opportunity for specialized training alongside world-class doctors and scientists at Houston Methodist.

“Research synergies like the GCC create a culture of creativity that opens new opportunities for discoveries that positively impact human health,” said Brett Giroir, M.D., CEO of Texas A&M Health Science Center. “We have, for a number of years, greatly valued our partnerships among collaborating institutions within the resource-rich Texas Medical Center and we are delighted to join the GCC, further expanding the Aggie presence in Houston, and in turn, leading world-class research and medical education in the most important health-related district in the world.”

— Holly Shive

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