November 17, 2015


Dr. Geoffrey Preidis, a pediatric gastroenterology fellow at Texas Children’s and Baylor College of Medicine, received the 2016 Young Investigator Development Award from the North American Society for Pediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition (NASPGHAN) Foundation and Nestlé Nutrition Institute.

His award-winning study titled, “Glycan metabolism shapes the undernourished intestinal microbiome and influences weight gain,” explores the mechanisms by which undernutrition alters the bacterial balance in the gut microbiome and how this imbalance may impact weight gain potential in children with poor nutritional status.

Dysbiosis refers to disturbances in the bacterial composition of the gut microbiome. Intestinal bacteria transform glycans, non-digestible complex sugars, into short chain fatty acids that provide energy to epithelial cells lining the digestive tract. There are two types of glycans in the intestine – N-glycans derived from diet and O-glycans produced by the host that comprise intestinal mucus.

Since most bacteria metabolize only a small subset of glycans, the limited availability of key glycans could induce dysbiosis, which may impair weight gain by causing microbes to compete with the host for nutrients, transform fewer luminal contents into bioavailable energy or induce epithelial cell gene expression changes that decrease nutrient uptake.

To explore these possibilities, Preidis and his research team established a model of protein-energy undernutrition in neonatal mice. The undernourished microbiome in mice contained fewer N-glycans and fewer bacteria that metabolize N-glycans compared to the control group. The undernourished microbiome also was enriched with a plethora of Akkermansia muciniphila, a bacterium that lives and feeds on O-glycans in the intestinal mucus lining and is found in smaller quantities in obese humans and obese mice.

Preidis and his team hypothesize that loss of dietary N-glycan energy sources in the calorie-restricted diet causes a bloom of microbes including A. muciniphila that feed on mucus layer O-glycans. The resulting dysbiosis in the undernourished intestinal microbiome thins the mucus, decreases expression of epithelial cell genes that drive nutrient uptake and impairs weight gain.

“Uncovering the mechanisms by which dysbiosis contributes to poor nutrition – and can possibly be corrected – has enormous potential to improve global child health,” Preidis said. “Our long-term objective is to improve our understanding of how the microbiome contributes to metabolism and which microbes are potentially harmful or beneficial to weight gain and growth. This knowledge will enable us to develop therapies that target the microbiome to promote rapid recovery following periods of undernutrition and weight loss.”


The Department of Surgery is pleased to announce the appointment of Dr. Amy Huynh-Tran to the Division of Dental Surgery. Huynh-Tran also has been appointed as an assistant professor in the Dental Department at Baylor College of Medicine. Huynh-Tran will see patients in the Dental Clinic at the main campus of Texas Children’s.

“Dr. Huynh-Tran has received excellent training and is committed to the highest standards of care for children. She will be an asset to our patients. We are very pleased that she is now part of our team at Texas Children’s,” said Dr. Bruce Carter, chief of the Division of Dental Surgery.

She most recently completed a pediatric dentist residency at the University of Rochester/Eastman Institute for Oral Health. She also performed a general practice residency in 2007 at the Harvard School of Dental Medicine, Brigham and Women’s Hospital.


Otolaryngologists Drs. Binoy Chandy and MaryFrances Musso recently received the Baylor College of Medicine Master Teacher Certificate and presented at the Baylor College of Medicine Academy of Distinguished Educators. The Master Teacher Certificate is awarded by the Master Teachers Fellowship Program at Baylor.

Chandy presented on “Spaced Education in Difficult to Teach Topics: Professionalism,” looking at teaching small amounts over a period of time rather than routine lectures in hard to teach topics such as professionalism.

Musso discussed a pilot study she led using a video to educate parents of patients scheduled for an adenotonsillectomy. Parents were asked to rate the effectiveness of the video before and after surgery. This project’s main goal was to increase educational resources available to patients and families and have them be better prepared for postoperative care.

November 10, 2015


Flu season is here with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reporting cases being seen sporadically across the United States, including Texas. To protect yourself and others against the serious, potentially deadly, infection, the CDC and the Executive Director of Texas Children’s Center for Vaccine Awareness and Research Dr. Carol J. Baker urges everyone – especially health care workers – to get vaccinated.

“We owe it to ourselves and we owe it to our patients to get vaccinated against the flu,” Baker said. “As long as the season is going on, and you are not protected, you can get influenza.”

For those who are still debating on whether to get the free flu shot offered to all Texas Children’s employees, Baker, a pediatric infectious disease specialist well known for her work in both immunization research and education, addresses some of the top concerns about the vaccine and the flu in the video below.

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As of Friday, November 6, 63 percent of Texas Children’s employees had gotten a flu shot, according to statistics provided by Jill Fragoso, director of Employee Health and Wellness. Last year, Texas Children’s achieved a 90 percent vaccination rate. We want to reach or exceed that rate this year. As a reminder, employees should be in compliance by Tuesday, December 1. Leaders can run reports for their area(s) via the Health and Wellness portal. Individuals who would like to view and/or print their immunization records can click here for instructions on how to access that portal.

How to get vaccinated
Free flu shots are being offered to all Texas Children’s employees, Baylor College of Medicine employees working in Texas Children’s facilities, Texas Children’s medical staff and volunteers at various events across the organization and at the Employee Health Clinic. Click here to view the dates and locations for your vaccination. If you are unable to make one of these dates, please make an appointment at the Employee Health clinic, located on the fifth floor of the Abercrombie Building near the yellow elevators, after October 1. If you have questions, please call Employee Health at Ext. 4-2150. West Campus Employee Health is located on the campus’ second floor and can be reached at Ext. 7-1365.

Visitation restrictions
Based on the increasing incidence of respiratory illness, Texas Children’s Hospital has instituted new visitation restrictions for the inpatient units and critical care areas. To read more about these restrictions please click here.


It’s been almost a year since Texas Children’s announced we were teaming up with the Houston Texans to inspire children to lead healthier, more active lives. Since the kick-off of our partnership, the two organizations have already reached thousands of Houston-area children through camps, school programs, special hospital appearances and other events that combine fun with education.

“The goal of our partnership with the Texans is to help children and families in our community grow stronger and healthier. We’re working together to provide fun, meaningful experiences that emphasize the importance of nutrition, physical activity and other healthy choices,” said Amber Tabora, vice president of Marketing and Public Relations.

In the past few months, our two teams have hosted the Houston Texans Kids’ Triathlon, one of the nation’s largest triathlons for children; a Texans Jr. Cheer event that included a presentation for parents on the young female athlete given by Drs. Jennifer Dietrich and Megan May; Running of the Bulls: TORO Kids 1K run/walk; youth football camps; the Heads Up football program teaching football safety to kids in the community; and Get Fit with TORO, an elementary school-based nutrition and fitness program. Texas Children’s and the Houston Texans also kicked off several NFL Play 60 contests among schools in the community, all aimed at encouraging children to exercise or actively play for at least 60 minutes every day. On November 29, Texas Children’s will be recognized at the game as the Houston Texans’ Play 60 partner and help award the schools who won the challenge.

“Our relationship with the Texans first and foremost is about outreach to the community. At the same time, it’s also an opportunity to promote the Texas Children’s brand in uniquely compelling ways to new audiences,” said Lisa Yelenick, director of Brand and Service Line Marketing. “Because it’s so externally focused, the partnership includes very few internal benefits like game tickets or other hospitality elements. And with the few benefits we do receive, executive leadership and Human Resources are finding ways to distribute them to team members at all levels throughout the organization.”

The primary benefits include 50 game tickets and one hospitality suite for the November 29 Play 60 game. The suite will be used to host the Mark A. Wallace Catalyst Leader winners and their guests and leaders. And winners of the additional 50 tickets this year were chosen from comment cards that employees submitted throughout the “One Amazing Team” events and tour. Please see below the 25 winners.

The partnership also includes involvement from players, cheerleaders and TORO in the community and hospital events hosted by the Texans and Texas Children’s Hospital. Separate from these official events, players may decide to visit patients in our hospital on their own – like the recent appearance made by J.J. Watt. “In a case like this, the player’s intent is to spend time with the children and families in our care, and we sincerely appreciate all the help provided by Child Life and Security to ensure these visits go smoothly and cause the least disruption possible to patient care activity,” added Yelenick.

The two organizations hope to continue identifying ways to grow the partnership and extend its reach even further within the local and regional communities.

“The partnership allows us to link our brand with the Houston Texans, and that in turn helps us amplify the impact we can have on the community – kids are understandably more excited to learn about health and nutrition when it comes from TORO and their favorite Texans players,” Tabora said. “We are two great teams combining our efforts to impact our community in a powerful, positive way.”

For questions or more information about the Texans partnership, please contact Sarah Bardwell in Marketing and Public Relations at Ext. 4-2732 or at

FAQs about Houston Texans appearances and tickets

Can I request a special appearance from the Houston Texans football players, TORO or the Texans cheerleaders?
Our partnership only covers the limited time spent by players, cheerleaders and TORO at official Texans-Texas Children’s events. Texans players and other representatives may choose to visit our patients on their own time, and we will facilitate each request as we can. All such visits will be coordinated through the Marketing and Public Relations department.

Can I visit the Texans’ players, cheerleaders and mascot when they visit the hospital?
When Texans representatives visit the hospital, their intent is to interact with our patients and their families. The only staff and employees invited to attend these special appearances are those currently providing care for the patients involved or those staff coordinating the events themselves. As well, we usually are asked to enforce strict guidelines regarding photography, videography and social media with those Texas Children’s team members working at the events.

Are ticket discounts available now that we are partnering with the Texans?
Texas Children’s partnership with the Texans does not include ticket discounts. The focus and intent of the partnership is on outreach to children and families here at the hospital and out in the community.

What if I’m not a Texans fan?
Regardless of your sports team loyalties or even what happened during last week’s football game, when players and other representatives from the Houston Texans visit Texas Children’s Hospital, they are here to help create memorable experiences for our patients and their families. Please be courteous as you would with any of the hospital’s partners, and remember that when it comes to our patients and children and families in the community, we’re all on the same team.

Winners of the tickets to the November 29 Play 360 game with the Texans
If you see your name on this list and have yet to be contacted about your tickets, please call Karen Jumonville with Human Resources at Ext. 4-6656.

Leslie Barker, Mother/Baby Unit at the Pavilion for Women Nathalee Jones, Information Services
Katresea Bouldin, The Center for Children and Women Sheila Lopez, Texas Children’s Health Plan
Irene Castro, Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation Vanessa Marquez, Texas Children’s Hospital West Campus – Cardiology
Stephanie Colburn, Texas Children’s Health Centers – The Woodlands Nancy Ng, Center for Vaccine Awareness and Research
Kelly Dahlen, Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at the Pavilion for Women Abhay Patel, Pharmacy Department
Maria Davis, Room Management Christy Rodriguez, Pharmacy Services
Kimberly Derouselle, Texas Children’s Pediatrics Pearland Amanda Schneider, Texas Children’s Hospital West Campus – Pediatric Intensive Care Unit
Esbeydi Duarte, Post Anesthesia Care Unit Reshma Suthar, Texas Children’s Gordon Emergency Center
Woodie Fry, Facilities Planning and Development Kristy Stanley, Texas Children’s Pediatrics Cy-Fair
Jewel Greer, Virology Department Maria Valero, Lactation Support
Samelle Hamilton, Facilities Operations Katherine Williams, Business Services
Susan Hardy-Croskey, Maternal Fetal Medicine Thomesa Wilson, Texas Children’s Pediatrics Corinthian Pointe
Daneeka Hamilton, REI-IVF

Clinic Photo Gallery:


It’s called the “Watcher List” and simply put, it is for patients who need a little extra attention. Any physician, nurse or resident can place a patient on the Watcher List if they are concerned that patient may need a higher level of care. A patient on the list is given extra attention by care providers who have a plan in place should the patient’s condition deteriorate quickly.

“Generally the plan is to increase global awareness of these patients for an extra set of eyes,” said Chief Resident Tolulope Adebanjo. “Each week there is a safety resident who oversees the Watcher List for each unit ensuring the proper steps are taken to escalate care for a patient should it become needed.”

The program was enacted by the quality and safety team as a measure to increase patient safety. It began as a pilot program on a few units and expanded to a system-wide acute care initiative. Since going into effect, the number of codes on each floor have dramatically decreased. The new system allows for the rapid response team (RRT) to be called into action more quickly and efficiently before a patient decompensates.

“For our nurses, the Watcher List allows for peace of mind knowing the entire care team is aware of the patients who may require the most attention on the unit and that there is a plan to ensure the patient receives the appropriate care,” said Assistant Clinical Director of Inpatient Nursing Monica Simmons. “The nurses have the most interaction with the patients and play a key role in communicating with the care teams about each of these patients.”

“The key to good patient care is communication so the Watcher List is one way that we communicate our level of concern about patients,” said Chief Resident Kim Lehecka. “It’s a really systematic way to communicate concerns easily and efficiently while being able to quickly prioritize.”

Patients on the Watcher List have a greater chance of being moved to a higher acuity unit. The criteria for the list varies from floor-to-floor and may include abnormal vital signs, abnormal labs, a patient on high risk medication and a variety of other causes. The list is available for teams across the organization and helps coordination across units when a patient may need to be moved. Higher acuity units are in constant communication with the others on what the needs may be throughout any given day.

“It’s a common language,” Adebanjo said. “It’s a patient who needs to be frequently assessed with the potential to get really sick very quickly.”

The list allows a greater preparation for adverse events and a plan of action that could mean a better outcome. The charts on each patient shows the reasons they are on the Watcher List as well as the plans of action should the RRT need to be called. A patient is taken off of the list when their condition improves, but not without a conversation between a multidisciplinary team.


Michael Cothran from the Office of Development is the latest Texas Children’s Super Star leader. “We are fortunate to have a work culture that encourages and supports employees at every level,” Cothran said. “I’ve always challenged myself and others to explore new ideas, processes and tools.” Read more of Cothran’s interview, and find out how you can nominate a Super Star.

Q&A: Michael Cothran, July – September 2015 Leader

Your name, title and department. How long have you worked here?
Michael Cothran, Development Manager, Texas Children’s Hospital Office of Development. I have been an employee at Texas Children’s Hospital since 2007.

What month are you Super Star for?
July – September 2015

Tell us how you found out you won a super star award.
I thought I was going to a staff meeting but all of my coworkers had gathered to congratulate me on the award. The Office of Development runs at a pretty fast pace so I really appreciated everyone taking a few minutes out of their day to celebrate.

What does it mean to be recognized for the hard work you do? How has the organization helped you achieve your personal and professional goals?
It really makes that hard work even more meaningful. We are fortunate to have a work culture that encourages and supports employees at every level. I’ve always challenged myself and others to explore new ideas, processes and tools. These efforts have consistently been supported by the organization, and I believe we have grown stronger as a result.

What do you think makes someone at Texas Children’s a super star?
There really isn’t one simple recipe. When I look around at the most successful people in our organization, I see a variety of traits and characteristics. Key among them are selflessness, enthusiasm, confidence and integrity.

What is your motivation for going above and beyond every day at work?
In my role in the Office of Development, I have the opportunity to interact with many of the top leaders at Texas Children’s Hospital. I’m always impressed by the scope of the vision that they share. While there are needs that must be answered today, there is always an eye toward tomorrow. Knowing that Texas Children’s has great plans for the future is a strong motivator.

What is the best thing about working at Texas Children’s?
The mission is very clear. It feels good to do purposeful work that will have a lasting impact.

What does it mean to you that everyone at Texas Children’s is considered a leader? What is your leadership definition?
We are all in a unique position to proactively influence the path that we are traveling. I think this is key to the ongoing success of Texas Children’s.
I believe that leadership is the ability to understand the need for transformation or preservation and then to actively support the pursuit of either.

Anything else you want to share?
I’d simply like to thank those who nominated and selected me for this award. It is a true honor.