June 19, 2018

Dr. Zhandong Liu, assistant professor at Baylor College of Medicine and researcher at the Jan and Dan Duncan Neurological Research Institute (NRI) at Texas Children’s has received a distinguished service award from the International Association for Intelligent Biology and Medicine (IAIBM).

As a non-profit organization, the IAIBM’s mission is to promote bioinformatics, systems biology and intelligent computing among scientists of diverse backgrounds through discussion, network communication, collaborations and education.

The Liu laboratory has developed many new software tools (e.g. MARRVEL and CRISPRcloud) that have helped biomedical scientists analyze complex bioinformatics data faster and with ease. In addition, Liu’s collaborations with neuroscientists have led to many important biological discoveries that have far-reaching implications for various neurological and neurodegenerative diseases.

Dr. Mingshan Xue, assistant professor of neuroscience at Baylor College of Medicine and a researcher with the NRI at Texas Children’s has been awarded the prestigious 2018 McKnight Scholar Award.

The McKnight Scholar Awards are granted to young scientists who are in the early stages of establishing their own independent laboratories and research careers and who have demonstrated a commitment to neuroscience.

Out of 64 applicants, Xue was one of six awardees. The recipients were chosen for their creativity, technological, precise and rigorous new approaches to overcome barriers in answering long-standing neuroscience questions.

The McKnight Endowment Fund for Neuroscience is an independent organization funded solely by the McKnight Foundation of Minneapolis, Minn., and led by a board of prominent neuroscientists from around the country. Each of the six McKnight Scholar Award recipients receives $75,000 per year for three years.

Dr. Hsiao-Tuan Chao, a child neurologist and postdoctoral researcher at the NRI, has been awarded the highly-competitive 2018 Burroughs Wellcome Fund Career Award for Medical Scientists.

The Burroughs Wellcome Fund is an independent private foundation dedicated to advancing the biomedical sciences by supporting research and other scientific and educational activities. The main goals of this fund are to help early-stage scientists develop into independent scientists and to advance undervalued areas of basic biomedical research. To fulfill that mission, the Career Award for Medical Scientists provides $700,000 of research funding spread over five years to physician-scientists who are currently receiving advanced postdoctoral/fellowship training. This award is intended to help physician-scientists embark on independent academic careers.

Chao, who is also an instructor in the department of pediatrics at Baylor College of Medicine, associate program director of the child neurology residency program and clinical child neurologist, is one of the 13 physician-scientists from leading academic institutions in the US to receive this honor in 2018. This award will help Chao establish an independent research program to understand the mechanisms underlying transcriptional dysregulation of inhibitory signaling pathways in childhood neurodevelopmental disorders.

Earlier this year the Houston Business Journal’s 2018 Landmark Awards selected it’s winners for the top commercial real estate projects in Houston. Our very own Texas Children’s Hospital, The Woodlands campus, won in the medical category.

On April 19, the winners were revealed at the highly anticipated awards ceremony. Finalists and winners of all categories were announced and awarded on stage in front of the top individuals in the commercial real estate community. According to The Houston Business Journal, entries were judged on impact to Houston, such as job creation, innovation, best use of land, site plan, and development of surrounding neighborhoods, visual plan, amenities and being environmentally friendly. Attendees of the event received copies of the Landmark Awards section, as well as the April 20th paper, and winners received crystal trophies engraved with the organization’s name and category.

“Receiving this year’s Landmark Award for the medical category was the perfect way to celebrate our one-year anniversary,” said Trent Johnson, Assistant Vice President of The Woodlands campus. “It is truly the perfect ending to our first year which has been an incredible story of success with Texas Children’s offering world-class care, close to home for patients and families in our community.”

Nominations were open to all real estate projects completed in the greater Houston area from January 1, 2017 through December 31, 2017. In all, there were 54 projects in 16 categories in the running for this year’s awards. Our medical competitors were Legacy Community Health Fifth Ward Clinic and University of Houston Health 2 Building.

“The honor of having Texas Children’s Hospital The Woodlands campus win in the medical category told me two things – we’ve created a significant landmark and we’ve made an impact to the Houston area landscape, not only physically, but functionally,” said Jill Pearsall, Vice President of Facilities Planning and Development. “The success of the campus gives me a sense of pride and humility.”

June 5, 2018

The Clinical Research Center/Research Resources Office presented the Clinical Research Award for Second Quarter 2018 to Debbie Barrera, nurse manager, Research Resources Office (RRO).

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.

Debbie does not have just one research focus. She works on many studies and is the nurse manager for the RRO research coordinators.

“I had the great fortune of joining the Research Resources Office (RRO) in 2015 as nurse manager,” said Barrera. “I feel very honored to be part of such a great team. In the time since I joined the RRO, the department has tripled in size and continues to expand. The RRO team provides support to pediatric departments at Texas Children’s Hospital requiring assistance with research management. It has been very rewarding to work with and watch the RRO team grow and gain expert research knowledge in multiple settings. My job has provided a wonderful opportunity to work with a group of dedicated researchers who provide safe and effective research. And most importantly, it is always a pleasure to see positive outcomes for so many of our patients.”

May 29, 2018

One extremely deserving employee earned the Best of the West award. On May 18, Cindy Baurax, supervisor of Respiratory Care at Texas Children’s Hospital West Campus, was presented a plaque signed by many of her colleagues for her exemplary work.

The Best of the West award recognizes an employee each quarter who has exceled at demonstrating Texas Children’s values – leading tirelessly, living compassionately, amplifying unity and embracing freedom.

“Cindy took on the challenge with no complaints and willingness to do whatever it takes to lead our teams forward,” her coworkers said. “She took on more roles in order to live up to the expectations of the organization, leading the respiratory department tirelessly.”

Over the past two years, Baurax has been committed to excellence through her support of West Campus leadership in taking on additional responsibilities with daily operations and piloting of new projects. Recently, she supported the facilitation of the PICU +1 Sleep project to increase access for our neurophysiology patients.

She has exemplified the many qualities of Best of the West by finding opportunities to demonstrate Texas Children’s values in her role as supervisor of Respiratory Care.


May 22, 2018

David Butler, April 2018 Employee

Your name, title and department. How long have you worked here?
David Butler, Unit Operations Coordinator. I have been an employee of the Texas Children’s Cancer and Hematology Centers and the Bone Marrow Transplant team since November 2000.

What month are you Super Star for?
April 2018

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 is an honor to receive this award. I was surprised and honored to find out that one of our team members had taken the time to submit my information for this award. Over the years I have learned so much from this wonderful organization and it has always been my second home.

What do you think makes someone at Texas Children’s a super star?
Doing what is best for the team so that we can provide the best care for all of our patients on a daily basis.

What is your motivation for going above and beyond every day at work?
I was a patient in the Texas Children’s Cancer Center from September 1996 to December 1998 while receiving treatment for Stage IV Non-Hodgkin T-Cell Lymphoblastic Lymphoma. I believe that things happen for a reason. Because of my cancer history I wanted to come back to Texas Children’s to work with the doctors and nurses that took care of me. I have a lot of great memories. I am blessed to have been able to work for the Texas Children’s Cancer and Hematology Centers and the BMT team for the past 17 plus years.

What is the best thing about working at Texas Children’s?
Being able to help the patients and families while they are being treated here. I am always impressed by how we as a team try our best to make the patient experience enjoyable. The little things we do can mean a lot to a patient or patient family during their time of need.

What does it mean to you that everyone at Texas Children’s is considered a leader? What is your leadership definition?
We are all leaders, and we are all part of one big Texas Children’s team. We must do everything we can to help the patients and families while they are being treated at Texas Children’s. We all lead by example.

The Department of Surgery hosted the ninth annual Edmond T. Gonzales Jr. Surgical Research Day May 18 at Texas Children’s Pavilion for Women providing a forum for researchers across the department to showcase their work.

This year 110 abstracts were submitted for review, 11 of which were chosen for oral presentations and 99 were accepted for poster presentations. This year eight students vied for the Best Presentation award and three faculty members were chosen to present their research.

The 2018 keynote speaker was Chandan Sen, who holds various roles at the Ohio State University Wexler Medical Center, including the John H. and Mildred C. Lumley Chair in Medicine, professor and vice chair of research in the Department of Surgery, associate dean of Translational Research, director of the College of Medicine, director of the Center for Regenerative Medicine and Cell-Based Therapies and executive director of the Ohio State Comprehensive Wound Center. Sen spoke about the regenerative medicine frontier and the reprogramming of tissue function in vivo.

Awards presented at the event were the Samuel Stal Research Award for outstanding research by a resident or fellow, the Research Mentor Award, and Best Oral Presentation and Best Poster Presentation.

  • The Samuel Stal Research Award was presented to Dr. Rodrigo Zea-Vera in Congenital Heart Surgery. The award is named after Dr. Samuel Stal, former chief of Plastic Surgery at Texas Children’s.
  • Pediatric Surgeon Dr. Sundeep Keswani was honored with the Research Mentor Award. The award is given on an annual basis to honor a Department of Surgery faculty member who serves as a research mentor through career development, professional guidance or cultivation of research interests.
  • Best Oral Presentation award was given to Urology Fellow Dr. Jeffrey White. He presented his work on the mining of CNV databases discovering a role for RBFOX-2 in penile development.
  • Best Poster award was given to researcher Jennifer Brown from otolaryngology for a poster on the implementation of a tracheostomy educational program for outpatient otolaryngology nurses.

Recipients of the 2018 Clayton Awards, former known as Surgical Seed Grant Awards, were announced as the grand finale of Texas Children’s Hospital Surgical Research Day. This grant program, funded by the Department of Surgery, allows surgery researchers to generate the preliminary data necessary for National Institutes of Health (NIH) grant applications and other extramural funding. 2018 Clayton Awards recipients are as follows:

Dr. Arvind Chandrakantan, Anesthesiology
Obstructive sleep apnea in vitro: A novel approach for cellular and molecular discovery

Dr. Erin Gottlieb, Anesthesiology
Antithrombin Levels in Neonates and Young Infants Undergoing Congenital Heart Surgery

Dr. Julie Hakim, Pediatric and Adolescent Gynecology
Understanding the Role of Estrogen in Vaginal Scar Tissue Formation

Dr. Brian Kelley, Neurosurgery
Molecular and Structural Mechanisms of Diffuse Axonal Injury

Scott Manson, Ph.D., Urology
Myofibroblast-Targeted Therapies for Renal Fibrosis in Obstructive Uropathy

Dr. Bindi Naik-Mathuria, Pediatric Surgery
Promoting Safe Firearm Storage in Households with Children

Dr. Irene Tung, Ophthalmology
The Effect of Oral Omega-3 Supplementation in Children with Meibomian Gland Disease and Chalazia

Xinyi Wang, Ph.D. Pediatric Surgery
The Role of Hyaluronan in Renal Tubulointerstitial Fibrosis

May 15, 2018

Each year as we salute nurses across the country during National Nurses Week from May 6 to May 12, Texas Children’s celebrated our incredible team of more than 3,000 nurses for their many successes, accomplishments and contributions to patient care.

This year’s theme for Nurses Week was Nurses: Inspire, Innovate, Influence. From developing Texas Children’s first-ever Nursing Innovations Solutions Council to partnering with families in the design of patient care rooms in Legacy Tower, our nurses play a key role in developing novel strategies to optimize the care we deliver to our patients and families.

During Nurses Week, the Nursing Retention Council organized several activities that centered on health and wellness to remind our nurses how important it is to take care of themselves so they can provide the best care to their patients. Activities included educational presentations including a presentation on financial wellness, blessing of the hands, massages, a photo booth, cupcakes and punch and special cookie deliveries for all of the units.

On May 9, Texas Children’s Nursing Excellence Awards ceremony honored six recipients for their commitment to improving nursing care and patient outcomes.

The award honorees included:

Staff Nurse of the year: Imelda Salcedo
Preceptor of the year: Melissa Campbell
Rookie of the year: Tanya Facio
Leader of the year: Kerry Sembera
APRN of the year: Emily Charles
Advanced degree: Miranda Rodrigues
Friend of Nursing: Dr. Binita Patel

Jillian Aragon was awarded the 2018 David and Polly Roth Nursing Education Scholarship Fund. This education fund will provide tuition assistance for Texas Children’s employees who have worked in the organization for at least three years and are interested in pursuing a professional nursing degree.

Leanne Petters and Janae Harris received the Molly Mae LeBlanc Nursing Education Scholarship. The scholarship was named in memory of Molly Mae, daughter of Texas Children’s employees Jill and Andy LeBlanc, who passed away at Texas Children’s on May 6, 2017. The purpose of the scholarship is to perpetuate Molly Mae’s memory and recognize nursing staff members for going above and beyond their required job duties to enhance the quality of life for Texas Children’s patients and their families.

The Houston Chronicle Salute to Nurses included Rhonda Bolin from the Spina Bifida Clinic and Allison Carter from Transition Medicine who were among the top 15 award recipients. Click here for more on the Houston Chronicle Salute to Nurses honorees.

In addition to the two nurses honored in the top 15, 23 Texas Children’s nurses were recognized as being among the top 150 in the Greater Houston area.

Max Abogador (Progressive Care Unit)
Heidi Aghajani (Bone Marrow Transplant Unit)
Sandy Alfaro (14 West Tower)
Lauren Altendorf (Pediatric Intensive Care Unit)
Cynthia Baker (Texas Children’s Health Plan: The Center for Children and Women)
Elizabeth Bernard (Neonatal Intensive Care Unit 2)
Jennifer Dalton (Community Clinics)
Lisa Davenport (The Woodlands – Neonatal Intensive Care Unit)
Casey Fontenot (Hayslett) (DSRIP – Pulmonary)
Stacey Foshee (Cardiovasvular Intensive Care Unit)
Stephanie Gonzales-Hughes (Labor and Delivery)
Lauren Harsany-Salinas (Cardiovasvular Intensive Care Unit)
Judy Holloway (West Campus – Nursing Operations Leadership)
Lastenia Holton (Cancer Center and Hematology Center – Outpatient)
Jennifer Hopkins (15 West Tower)
Rachel Leva (Newborn Center)
Winsyl Montojo (Operating Rooms)
Sharon Moreau (Progressive Care Unit)
Lisa Pali (The Woodlands – Multispecialty)
Melissa Silvera (Nursing Operations)
Lynda Tyer-Viola (Nursing Executive)
Emily Weber (Nursing Administration)
Rhonda Wolfe (14 West Tower)

Congratulations to our Texas Children’s nurses for their commitment to our patients and families.