May 18, 2016


Dr. Will Parsons, a pediatric oncologist at Texas Children’s Cancer Center and associate professor of pediatrics at Baylor College of Medicine, will participate in the efforts to accelerate cancer research through the National Cancer Moonshot Initiative. Parsons will join the National Cancer Institute’s Blue Ribbon Panel Working Group on Pediatric Cancer, which is providing insight and direction to the Moonshot initiative.

The Moonshot initiative was announced in January by President Barack Obama and is being led by Vice President Joe Biden. The initiative aims to accelerate current cancer research efforts and break down barriers to progress, making more therapies available to more patients, while also improving the ability to prevent cancer and detect it at an early stage.

The NCI, in consultation with the National Institutes of Health and the White House, assembled the Blue Ribbon Panel, a working group of the National Cancer Advisory Board, to provide expert advice on the vision, proposed scientific goals and implementation of the National Cancer Moonshot. The panel will consider how to best advance the themes proposed for the Moonshot, including an intensive examination of the opportunities and impediments in cancer research.

The Blue Ribbon Panel’s working groups, including the pediatric cancer group, will gather input from the cancer research community and industry across specific disciplines and sectors. The findings and recommendations of the panel and its working groups will be reported to the National Cancer Advisory Board (NCAB) later this summer. The NCAB will use the panel’s findings to provide final recommendations to the NCI director, who will in turn deliver a report to the White House Moonshot Task Force and ultimately to the President.

“I’m excited about the potential of the Moonshot initiative to improve care for children with cancer through collaborative research,” Parsons said. “We look forward to contributing to these discussions based on our experience at Texas Children’s Cancer Center.”

In addition to coordinating the Working Groups, the Blue Ribbon Panel is accepting cancer research ideas to be considered under the Moonshot from the scientific community and general public. Individuals and groups are encouraged to submit their ideas through July 1 to

Parsons is director of the Pediatric Center for Precision Oncology at Texas Children’s Cancer Center, as well as the co-director of the Brain Tumor Program and the Cancer Genetics and Genomics Program. He specializes in the treatment of children with brain and spinal cord tumors, and his team’s research has been critical to the understanding of genes involved in pediatric solid tumors, leukemias, and histiocytic disorders.

In addition, Parsons’ research program focuses on the clinical application of genomic technologies in pediatric cancer care. He is the co-principal investigator with Dr. Sharon Plon, professor of pediatrics – oncology at Baylor, on the Baylor Advancing Sequencing in Childhood Cancer Care, or BASIC3, study, a National Human Genome Research Institute and National Cancer Institute-funded Clinical Sequencing Exploratory Research project to examine the usefulness of tumor and germline whole exome sequencing in children newly diagnosed with certain cancers. He also serves as the Children’s Oncology Group study chair for the NCI Pediatric MATCH study, a precision oncology clinical trial for children with relapsed and refractory cancers that is planned to open in late 2016.

51816KateMazur175The Clinical Research Center/Research Resources Office has presented the Clinical Research Award for Second Quarter 2016 to Kate Mazur, instructor and pediatric nurse practitioner, Texas Children’s Cancer and Hematology Centers.

This award was established by the Clinical Research Center in collaboration with the Research Resources Office to recognize and honor individual contributions to protecting the best interest of the research subjects and compliance with applicable rules and regulations.

Mazur’s research activities in the CRC focus on conducting clinical trials of novel therapies to treat pediatric cancers. She actively participates in the consent process and screening, management of patients enrolled on Phase I and II clinical trials, as well as palliative and supportive care for these patients and their families.

May 10, 2016

This fall, Texas Children’s will open its doors to the outpatient building of Texas Children’s Hospital The Woodlands. Soon thereafter in the spring of 2017, Texas Children’s second community hospital will be ready to serve The Woodlands and beyond.

“Tellepsen Construction has made tremendous progress,” said Texas Children’s Hospital The Woodlands President Michelle Riley-Brown. “The interior building is coming along nicely with walls, door frames and above the ceiling utilities are being installed as we speak. The design of the landscape is coming along as well and will include three fountains, a court yard and our trademark colorful yard letters.”

When people finally get to walk through the doors of the hospital, Riley-Brown said they will be greeted by a facility that is inviting, open and designed with a Spirit of the Woods theme to incorporate the lush, woodsy landscape that surrounds it. Just inside the main entrance, for example, is a grand staircase that will simulate a tree house, giving the area a safe, central location for children and families visiting Texas Children’s Hospital The Woodlands.

The decision to build the hospital was made after the success of Texas Children’s first community hospital, Texas Children’s Hospital West Campus. The goal of the location north of Houston is to provide dedicated pediatric care to the fast-growing population of The Woodlands, Kingwood, Conroe, Spring, Magnolia, Humble, Huntsville and beyond.

“Having Texas Children’s quality care closer, fewer families will have to drive 35 miles to the Texas Medical Center to receive pediatric health care,” Riley-Brown said. “Hopefully, that will bring peace of mind to many families and parents that we are close by if they need us.”

Texas Children’s Hospital The Woodlands will build on a decade’s worth of relationships Texas Children’s has built in the community through our primary and sub-specialty care at Texas Children’s Pediatrics locations and the Texas Children’s Health Center The Woodlands. The 560,000-square-foot complex will offer inpatient and outpatient specialty pediatric care, and facilities will include 72 outpatient exam rooms, 25 emergency center exam rooms, 28 critical care rooms, 32 acute care rooms, 12 radiology rooms and four operating rooms.

The hospital’s leadership team is in place with Riley-Brown as president of the hospital, Dan DiPrisco as senior vice president, Dr. Charles Hankins as chief medical officer and Dr. Jeffrey Shilt as chief surgical officer. The hospital’s director team also has been chosen and includes Trent Johnson, Ketrese White, Julie Barrett, and Cathy Pierantozzi. As for providers, 40 percent of the hospital’s physicians have been hired and about 20 percent of its mid-level providers are in place. “Our goal is to attract the best and the brightest,” said Riley-Brown, adding that the hospital will employee about 650 employees when we open the doors. “We hope that people find this as an opportunity and will express interest in joining the Texas Children’s Hospital The Woodlands team.”

To prepare for the opening of the outpatient building and the hospital, seven activation teams have been formed that comprise 130 people from across the Texas Children’s system, including hospital-based services, clinical support services and patient care services. The goal of the teams is to ensure activation planning, operational alignment, increase visibility to the project and promote committed partnerships. Leaders also will be working with Dr. Jennifer Arnold and the Pediatric Simulation Center to plan for simulation and training prior to both the inpatient and outpatient facilities opening.

“It’s pretty exciting to know that we’re making history at Texas Children’s Hospital with yet another milestone of opening a community setting for the hospital,” Riley-Brown said. “We can’t wait to open the doors!”

See below for the most up-to-date aerials of the hospital. Click here to get a snapshot of what will be offered at Texas Children’s Hospital The Woodlands.

51116TCHCoupon640Between now and Saturday, May 28, Texas Children’s employees can get 20 percent off items at the Houston Texans’ official team store, the Go Texan Store, at NRG Stadium. Employees are getting this exciting offer/opportunity since we are the Houston Texans Official Children’s Hospital.

The offer is valid on all in-store items except for sale items, publications, customizations, jerseys and other special items.

Click here or above to print out your coupon, which must be shown at time of purchase.

The Go Texan Store is open from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday through Saturday. Shoppers can park in the Blue Lot 18, which is accessible for free from Gate 9 at the intersection of Kirby and Westridge. Fans can find everything from new Nike jerseys and fresh New Era/47 Brand hats to miscellaneous team memorabilia, women’s apparel and accessories, youth merchandise, tailgating necessities, and much more.

Enjoy and Go Texans!

51116texaschildrensrice640What happens when Texas Children’s surgeons and Rice University engineering students collaborate to develop innovative solutions to reduce the pain of stent removal after a urinary tract procedure? An award-winning device that could potentially revolutionize the field of pediatric urologic surgery.

Last fall, Dr. Chester Koh, a pediatric urologist and surgeon at Texas Children’s and Baylor College of Medicine, challenged a group of Rice students to come up with an innovative tool to simplify ureteral stent removals, a fairly common procedure that is performed on more than 2,000 pediatric patients nationwide each year.

After a stent is inserted into a patient’s ureter to improve urine flow from the kidneys to the bladder, the stent is removed after four weeks of healing. The current procedure involves inserting an endoscope into the urethra and bladder to locate the stent and pull it out, which requires children to be placed under anesthesia.

After extensively collaborating with Texas Children’s surgeons to better understand the challenges of the current procedure and the need for refinement, the Rice team developed a simple, less invasive device to remove ureteral stents from children using a small magnetic bead and a powerful custom-built electromagnet the team designed and 3-D printed at Rice’s Oshman Engineering Design Kitchen. The tiny metallic bead can pass safely through the urethra as the magnet pulls the bead out of the body followed by the stent that the bead is attached to.

Rice students briefly considered designing a stent that would dissolve over time, but decided the magnetic attachment would be far simpler and less prone to complications. This new innovation in ureteral stent removal in children is less painful and costs two-thirds less than the standard procedure because it does not require anesthesia and it can be completed in minutes rather than hours.

The team’s invention, the Ureteral Stent Electromagnetic Removable Bead, won two significant awards this month: the top $5,000 prize at Rice University’s annual Engineering Design Showcase and the Grand Prize for student design at the annual Design of Medical Devices Conference in Minneapolis.

“We hope this device will transform the field of pediatric urologic surgery,” said Rice bioengineering student Eric Yin, who is considering applying his engineering expertise to a career in pediatric medicine. “A lot of devices are designed for adults and Dr. Koh is one of the movers trying to develop more devices that are designed for children.”

Koh says the Rice team’s new device – and others designed in partnership with Texas Children’s surgeons – address the severe shortage of medical devices designed for infants and children.

“The development of pediatric medical devices lag adult device development by more than 10 years,” said Koh, who has a mechanical engineering degree from the University of California, Berkeley. “This is an important example of why academic partnerships are needed to advance pediatric medical device projects, since the pediatric medical device pipeline is currently limited. I applaud the Rice team for showing its dedication and passion to the kids under our care at Texas Children’s.”

Prior to coming to Texas Children’s to establish the robotic surgery program in 2013, Koh co-founded a U.S. Food and Drug Administration-supported pediatric device consortium based in Southern California. He is creating a similar initiative at Texas Children’s, drawing on the top engineering talent in the region.

This year, three engineering teams from Rice University and six teams from Texas A&M University are collaborating with Texas Children’s surgeons to develop new pediatric medical devices. with support from the Texas Children’s Auxiliary Denton Cooley Innovation Award. Koh plans to collaborate with other institutions in the future.

DeborahBurke175Deborah Burke of Human Resources is the latest Texas Children’s Super Star employee. “I have learned from my leaders that at any level you should still be able to assist someone or if you can’t help that person, get him or her to the right person,” Burke said. Read more of Burke’s interview and find out how you can nominate a Super Star.

Q&A: Deborah Burke, February 2016 Employee

Your name, title and department. How long have you worked here?
Deborah Burke, Project Analyst in the Talent Acquisition Department for Human Resources
I have been at Texas Children’s for 16 years and 3 months

What month are you Super Star for?
February 2016

Tell us how you found out you won a super star award.
My leader led me into a room of coworkers and surprised me with a cake. I thought we were going to a surprise wedding shower for her.

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 means a great deal to me. I really appreciate when a leader takes the time to send an email or to thank me. It makes me know that I am making a difference – that I helped. That is why I chose Human Resources. My leaders have nurtured me and guided me. I have learned from them that at any level you should still be able to assist someone or if you can’t help that person get them to the right person. Take time to listen, engage and assist. It’s amazing how much of a difference you can make by doing those three things.

What do you think makes someone at Texas Children’s a super star?
I think a super star is someone that goes above and beyond consistently. You have to enjoy what you do and live it. You don’t think what you are being asked to do is your job or not you just do it and you do it to the best of your ability.

What is your motivation for going above and beyond every day at work?
My leaders. I have tremendous respect for them and I look to them for guidance and sometimes they probably don’t even know but I am watching and listening.

What is the best thing about working at Texas Children’s?
I have been give many opportunities which has allowed me to grow and foster relationships with employees and leaders. I truly enjoy my job daily.

What does it mean to you that everyone at Texas Children’s is considered a leader? What is your leadership definition?
I think coworkers, new hires and staff members will observe how you are approaching your role at Texas Children’s and it is important to make not only a good first impression but to be consistent. Sure we all have bad days but it is how you handle that bad day which leaves an impression on others. Leadership to me is someone that takes the time to teach, explain situations and keeps everyone informed so that there is no miscommunication. Leadership is remembering those underneath you are watching and you must continue to reach out and teach and guide them.

51116stbaldrick640Nineteen years ago, Adam Henderson lost his hair to chemotherapy while battling acute lymphocytic leukemia at Texas Children’s. On April 9, this long-term cancer survivor is bald once again but this time it’s for a good cause. He and others participated in St. Baldrick’s annual fundraising event in Sugar Land.

Henderson and his former pediatric oncologist Dr. Timothy Porea, clinical director of Texas Children’s Cancer and Hematology Centers, and Dr. Fatih Okcu shaved their heads to raise funds and awareness for pediatric cancer research. Chris Stout, the father of Texas Children’s cancer patient Justin Stout, and students from Baylor College of Medicine, UT Med and Rice University participated in the event including long-term cancer survivor Michael Graves who emceed the event.

“There were a lot of emotions about being bald again,” Henderson said. “This time, I did it by choice and it was a joyous occasion because I was able to promote and support a worthy cause.”

St. Baldrick’s annual “Brave the Shave” challenge brings together survivors, patient families, physicians and supporters from across the community to raise funds for childhood cancer research. This year, these nationwide shaving events – 1,158 to be exact – have raised more than $28 million. Since the first event began in 2000, St. Baldrick’s Foundation has raised more than $178 million in funding for childhood cancer research – more than any organization other than the U.S government.

The foundation started in response to the lack of funding for childhood cancer research. According to the organization’s website, while 175,000 children are diagnosed with cancer each year, all types of childhood cancers combined receive only 4 percent of the U.S. federal funding for research. The funds raised through St. Baldrick’s have helped fund 820 grants at 329 institutions in 22 countries. Several of these funds support researchers at Texas Children’s Cancer and Hematology Centers.

“Seeing Adam and other cancer survivors standing next to me means we have succeeded,” Porea said. “Their inspirational stories of survival are a testament of why we do what we do every day here at Texas Children’s. Through advanced research, we can help save more lives and ultimately find a cure for childhood cancers.”

Porea has participated in St. Baldrick’s fundraising and head shaving event for the last 11 years. This is the second time he and his former patient participated in the event together. After all these years, Porea and Henderson still keep in touch and are counselors at Camp Periwinkle.

Prior to the head shaving challenge, two of St. Baldrick’s scholars – Drs. Karen Rabin and Wendy Allen-Rhoades – delivered opening remarks and highlighted the benefits of funding pediatric cancer research.

Click here to watch a spotlight video of Texas Children’s Cancer and Hematology Centers.