April 25, 2017

The Bad Pants Open, an annual golf tournament raising funds for the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) at Texas Children’s Hospital, celebrated an exciting milestone recently with a ribbon-cutting ceremony in the new, 14-bed NICU at Texas Children’s Hospital The Woodlands.

A $1 million donation from The Bad Pants Open was the catalyst for the NICU at Texas Children’s Hospital The Woodlands, which will care for premature and critically-ill babies, closer to home for residents of The Woodlands.

During the ribbon-cutting event, members of The Bad Pants Open committee had the honor of meeting the first patients of the Texas Children’s Hospital The Woodlands NICU, twins Emma and Lillian and their mother, Rebecca Vadala.

One of Houston’s most colorful golf tournaments, The Bad Pants Open is celebrating 20 years of raising critical funds, totaling over $6 million, to support needs of premature and sick newborn babies and their families at Texas Children’s Hospital. Presented by RBC Wealth Management and Capital Markets, this light-hearted annual golf tournament at The Clubs of Kingwood on Thursday, October 12, is chaired by Vice President of Texas Aromatics Rob Cooksey.

Texas Children’s Hospital, together with Texas Children’s Pavilion for Women, house the nation’s largest level IV NICU, caring for more than 2,500 infants each year. The NICU at Texas Children’s provides all services that critically-ill or premature babies might need, including on-site neonatologists available 24/7, the highest level of respiratory support, advanced imaging, pediatric surgery, pediatric anesthesiology and more.

On April 20, Texas Children’s leaders and staff joined community members in the Third Ward to celebrate the relocation and renaming of two Texas Children’s entities that have the unified goal of building a community of healthy children and are dedicated to providing the highest quality pediatric care to the children and families they serve.

The two celebrated entities are: Texas Children’s Hospital Primary Care Practice at Palm Center, formerly the Residents’ Primary Care Group located in the Texas Medical Center, and Texas Children’s Pediatric Palm Center, formerly known as Texas Children’s Pediatrics Cullen.

Both practices are now located in the heart of the Third Ward at 5400 Griggs Road.

“We are thrilled to have the opportunity to better and more conveniently meet the needs of underserved children and their families in the Third Ward,” said Texas Children’s Pediatrics President Kay Tittle.

Texas Children’s Pediatric Palm Center is a community-based collaborative health and wellness project that provides an accessible medical home to children and families. Its staff of four health care providers offers ongoing community and organizational support for family-focused health services that address the broad social, health, educational and spiritual needs of children.

As part of its goal to build a community of healthy children, Texas Children’s Pediatrics Community Cares Program provides trusted, high-quality pediatric medical services for children who otherwise would seek care from emergency rooms or possibly go without care or treatment due to low family incomes and/or lack of health insurance. Regardless of the family’s financial situation, the Community Cares Program provides health care to children from birth to age 18 and offers the opportunity to develop a trusting, long-term relationship with a board certified pediatrician.

When the doors to Texas Children’s Pediatric Palm Center first opened in 2000 at its original location, it was the first Texas Children’s Pediatrics Community Cares practice and was the vision of Dr. Robert Austin.

“Dr. Austin is the founder of and was the first pediatrician at Texas Children’s Pediatrics Cullen and believes, as we do, that we have an obligation to take care of any child who needs us and help ensure their future is healthy,” Tittle said. “Thank you, Dr. Austin, for your vision and for your continued dedication to this program.”

Resident’s Primary Care Group Clinic

The Texas Children’s Hospital Resident’s Primary Care Group Clinic recently moved from the Clinical Care Tower to the Palm Center at 5400 Griggs Road, Suite 101. The clinic also was renamed to Texas Children’s Hospital Primary Care Practice at Palm Center.

Texas Children’s Hospital Primary Care Practice at Palm Center provides comprehensive routine and preventive health care including well child check-ups, sick visits, sports physicals, immunizations and management of chronic pediatric medical conditions.

The medical staff at the clinic remains the same and will continue to be actively engaged in medical education. Texas Children’s Hospital Primary Care Practice at Palm Center will serve as the largest Texas Children’s Hospital and Baylor College of Medicine practice that provides primary care experience for pediatric medical students and residents.

“Moving this clinical practice to the Palm Center neighborhood in Houston’s Third Ward offers a great opportunity to serve the community while modeling best practice to the next generation of pediatricians,” said Clinic Chief Dr. Teresa Duryea. “We are excited to build collaborations within the community and advocate for the needs of the children.”

The clinic’s new location offers free parking and is conveniently located at the Palm Center Station on the MetroRail’s Purple Line. Please call 346-227-7275 to facilitate transfers. Referrals can be made in Epic to Primary Care Practice (TCH Resident Continuity Clinic). Appointments can be made through Central Scheduling at 832-822-2778.

For more information on Texas Children’s Hospital Primary Care Practice at Palm Center click here. For more information about Texas Children’s Pediatric Palm Center click here.

April 18, 2017

On April 10, more than 600 guests attended the Forum Luncheon at the Marriott Marquis in downtown Houston to meet internationally renowned neurogeneticist Dr. Huda Zoghbi and learn about the remarkable breakthroughs being made at the Jan and Dan Duncan Neurological Research Institute (NRI) at Texas Children’s Hospital and Baylor College of Medicine.

President and CEO Mark A. Wallace delivered opening remarks including a video documenting the unfolding story of the NRI and how Texas Children’s bold vision of establishing the world’s first basic research institute dedicated to the study of childhood neurological diseases became reality as a result of the hospital’s incredible leadership which he describes as Texas Children’s “secret sauce.”

ABC 13 Anchor Melanie Lawson moderated the one-hour long Q-and-A discussion with Zoghbi, director of the NRI. In addition to learning about Zoghbi’s early career before making the transition to neuroscience research, Zoghbi shared her collaborative vision for the NRI and spotlighted some of the exciting new discoveries emerging from the numerous labs at the NRI.

“To understand a disease, you have to know the root cause,” Zoghbi said. “Once you know the root cause, you can then create an animal model of the disease, dive into the mechanism and find an entry to a therapeutic manipulation. Genetics is one way to find the root cause of disease.”

Since the NRI opened in 2010, Zoghbi highlighted several recent discoveries that have opened new doors for developing therapeutic targets for various neurological diseases:

  • Dr. Benjamin Arenkiel found a small group of cells in the basal forebrain play a major role in the control of appetite. In mouse studies, when these cells are manipulated a certain way, the animal either eats constantly and becomes obese or eats little and loses weight. Arenkiel’s discovery paves the way for developing new therapies to treat obesity and other eating disorders in children and adults.
  • In collaboration with Drs. Juan Botas and Zhandong Liu, NRI researchers have identified a potential new strategy to prevent Alzheimer’s disease. They found that an over accumulation of the protein tau can make the brain vulnerable to degeneration. By developing new drugs to keep tau at levels that are not toxic, this could either prevent or delay the development of Alzheimer’s and other degenerative diseases caused by toxic tau accumulation.
  • Drs. Andrea Ballabio and Marco Sardiello discovered the function of a gene called Transcription Factor EB that helps cells clear up accumulated proteins, which is important for nerve cells to survive. Based on this scientific breakthrough, new clinical trials are underway that will help slow down or stop the progression of disease in patients with Batten disease by improving the clearing function of the brain.
  • Drs. John Swann, Anne Anderson and their team found that there are many molecular and biochemical changes that drive the growth and over-activity of brain cells in epilepsy patients. They were able to define a way to treat these seizures based on biochemical studies in cancer, which has helped to eliminate uncontrollable seizures in children.
    The NRI Forum Luncheon also included inspirational stories from several patient families who were present at the event, and who have benefitted from the life-altering research emerging from the NRI to improve the outcomes and quality of life for patients with a myriad of neurological disorders.

Prior to this event, Texas Children’s Development also hosted a reception to unveil a photography exhibit by Karen Sachar honoring the special needs children in the Greater Houston community. The reception included a short presentation from NRI researcher Dr. Christian Schaaf.

Click here to watch the video of the entire Luncheon Forum program.

Click here to watch specific patient story videos that were featured at the event.

Opening day at Texas Children’s Hospital The Woodlands on April 11 was full of excitement and appreciation for Texas Children’s newest full-service community hospital.

The day began at 7 a.m. with the first of more than 20 surgical cases and a succession of ribbon cuttings at the hospital’s main clinical areas. View a photo gallery of the day’s events below.

“This is the second community hospital for Texas Children’s and we are so excited,” said Michelle Riley-Brown, president of Texas Children’s Hospital The Woodlands. “This hospital will allow us to expand even more access to high-quality pediatric care in the community.”

Located off of I-45 in The Woodlands near CHI St. Luke’s and Methodist hospitals, Texas Children’s Hospital The Woodlands will serve children and families in the Woodlands, Kingwood, Conroe, Spring, Magnolia, Humble, Huntsville and beyond, and 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 550,000-square-foot facility offers:

  • services in more than 20 areas of specialty care
  • 32 acute care beds
  • four operating rooms
  • 12 radiology rooms with two MRIs
  • an emergency center with 25 patient rooms
  • a helipad
  • 1,000 free parking spaces
  • 28 critical care rooms (14 NICU and 14 PICU)
  • neurophysiology sleep lab
  • EEG laboratory
  • state-of-the-art infusion center
  • dining area
  • family library
  • chapel
  • playrooms on every floor

“Texas Children’s Hospital The Woodlands is really a comprehensive, standalone children’s hospital that’s part of a larger system that provides care across the spectrum,” said Dr. Charles Hankins, chief medical officer at the new hospital.

Designed with a “spirit of the woods” theme to incorporate the lush, woodsy landscape that surrounds it, Texas Children’s Hospital The Woodlands offers an open and inviting setting for patients, families and staff alike.

Just inside the main entrance is a grand staircase that simulates a tree house, giving the area a safe, central location for children and families visiting Texas Children’s Hospital The Woodlands. As you travel throughout the campus, there are images of leaves on the ceiling, rivers on the floor and trees and 1,700 pieces of art created by children in The Woodlands community on the walls.

“A lot of planning and thought went into the design of this facility,” said Trent Johnson, director of business operations and support services in The Woodlands. “It’s focused completely on our patients.”

By the end of opening day, staff at Texas Children’s Hospital The Woodlands had treated more than 150 children seeking care at the new facility.

Opening day volume included:

  • 23 surgical cases completed
  • 41 radiology procedures
  • 6 infusion cases
  • 31 pathology lab draws
  • 42 emergency center visits
  • 2 NICU admissions
  • 1 PICU admission
  • 3 acute care admissions

Rebecca Vadala is a resident of The Woodlands and the mother of two twin girls who were transferred on opening day from the NICU at Main Campus to the one in The Woodlands.

“It’s huge for us to be able to be so close to home,” Vadala said. “We’re just tremendously grateful to be the first patients here; it’s really an honor.”

Help our patients by becoming an extension of our fundraising team

April is National Volunteer Month. If you are looking for a great volunteer opportunity, look no further: Become an Online Advocate for the patients at Texas Children’s Hospital!

Online Advocates serve Texas Children’s patients by being an online volunteer. The group shares Texas Children’s social posts and email messages that include ways to support our patients and opportunities to send some fun and well-wishes their way.

Celebrate National Volunteer Month by joining Online Advocates today!

Here’s what you can expect when you join the team:

  • Advanced information about upcoming campaigns and ways to help
  • Quick, easy and impactful opportunities to assist with fundraising by sharing content online
  • A convenient way to volunteer – on the go from your phone or from the comfort of home

Every time you share, you’ll build an even bigger community to lift up our patients and their families.

Sign up to become an Online Advocate today at waystogive.texaschildrens.org/onlineadvocates

We are less than one month away from the 2017 MS150 Bike Ride! This year’s ride is Saturday, April 29 and Sunday, April 30.

The MS150 is an annual event sponsored by the MS Society to benefit those struggling with Multiple Sclerosis. It’s a two-day bike ride from Houston to Austin, with an overnight stay in LaGrange, TX. This is the twelfth year Team Texas Children’s will be participating, and to date we’ve raised more than $2.0M to support the MS Society. This year we have approximately 130 riders registered on our team, and they need your help.

While our riders are important, our volunteers are equally so! Our riders literally could not make it without the tremendous support they receive from our volunteers. This year there are a variety of volunteer opportunities in Houston before the ride, in LaGrange, and in Austin, to name just a few. School-aged children and youth old enough they will not distract you from your volunteer service are welcome. Please note – a special thank you to West Campus staff members who have volunteered to support Ride Start.

You don’t have to volunteer for the entire weekend. You can help with one or more parts of the event. If you’re interested in volunteering, please register using the link below. If multiple members of a family are volunteering, each person will need to register individually. The survey will provide all the information you need, including details about the different dates and times volunteers are needed.

Remember, volunteers work hard – but it’s also a lot of fun.

Registration closes Wednesday, April 19. Online training sessions will be conducted Friday, April 21, and Monday, April 24. You will be sent an email meeting invitation.

To register, visit:

Thank you in advance to everyone who donates their time and efforts to this very worthy cause. Whether you are a rider or a volunteer, you are making a difference.

Please feel free to contact Jeff Reinhart, Team Texas Children’s logistics and volunteer coordinator, at ext. 2-4265 with questions.

On Saturday, April 29, Texas Children’s and Baylor College of Medicine’s Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology will host Girls Elevated from 9:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. at the United Way Community Resource Center, 50 Waugh Drive, Houston, Texas.

Girls Elevated is a fun, interactive day-long session for young girls and their parents. Building on feedback from last year’s sold-out event, the event is designed to help create stronger, more confident young women.

Texas Children’s and Baylor’s team of experts will arm preteen and teenage girls ages 10 to 18 with the knowledge they need to navigate the changes and challenges that lie ahead. Sessions will cover important topics such as healthy relationships, body image and sexual pressures. Adults will receive expert advice on bonding with their teen, setting boundaries and talking about difficult subjects.

Keynote speaker Trisha Harris, who has held multiple leadership roles in the Department of Pediatric Surgery at Texas Children’s, will share her experiences and advice on how girls and young women can achieve their goals and dreams.

Click here to register online. The deadline to register has been extended to April 29 until 7 a.m.

For more information on the cost and registration for this event, click here. For questions, contact Ann Tims at ext. 6-7464.