Houston Methodist Academic Institute
Week of October 5, 2020
Houston Methodist Outpatient Clinical Trials in Spotlight
Houston Methodist’s COVID-19 protection and prevention clinical trials were featured on the Houston Chronicle's front page on Oct. 2. The story quoted medical director of critical care Faisal Masud, MD, and Houston Methodist Research Institute president and CEO Edward Jones about President Trump’s COVID-19 diagnosis and treatment, including the use of an antibody cocktail called REGN-COV2. Houston Methodist is currently conducting a REGN-COV2 clinical trial, to determine if this treatment can stop asymptomatic COVID-19 from progressing to symptomatic COVID-19.
The REGN-COV2 Regeneron Monoclonal Antibody Cocktail Study contains two neutralizing monoclonal antibodies called REGN10933 and REGN10987 that bind to key sites on the virus and prevent it from entering human cells. A second, similar protection and prevention study is also currently enrolling at Houston Methodist. The Lilly BLAZE-1 Study measures how well LY3819253 can prevent mild symptomatic COVID-19 from progressing to moderate or severe COVID-19. LY3819253 is a potent, neutralizing monoclonal antibody that binds to the spike protein of SARS-CoV-2, and blocks the virus from getting into human cells.
These studies are among the first to enroll at a newly developed infectious diseases unit for outpatient clinical trials, established as part of the Cockrell Center for Advanced Therapeutics in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Named the Reynolds and Reynolds Company Infectious Diseases Unit, it will administer clinical trials for infectious diseases, which require specialized facilities, equipment, training and protocols.
Global Diversity Awareness Month
October brings Global Diversity Awareness Month as a reminder of the positive impact a diverse workforce of men and women can have on a society. This October, celebrate Global Diversity Awareness Month and pay tribute to the diverse minds and beliefs held by all cultures around the world. Living in a multicultural society and embracing the values of various cultures strengthens understanding and appreciation of the world. Opening one's mind to new views and ideas and appreciating cultural differences offers a fresh perspective that may have been missing. It helps one become a true citizen of the world. Stay tuned for more details from Human Resources, sharing opportunities for experiencing virtual activities this month.
K Awards Grant Writing Workshop
Come with an idea—leave with specific aims. This four-hour Saturday workshop covers the essentials of grant writing for the NIH-K, a mentored research or clinical research experience. The class will discuss the process involved, how the grants are judged and what to focus on to develop one's career. Come with an idea of what to will focus the grant on, leave with specific aims, which is the first page of the grant. After the workshop, participants can work privately with Dorothy E. Lewis, PhD, director, faculty development, to develop the full proposal. It will be held via livestream Sat., Nov. 7, 2020, 9 a.m. – 1 p.m. Find registration information here.
Scholars Upgraded with Profile and Collaboration Tools
Scholars, the global networking tool for faculty profiles and collaboration, has been upgraded with several new features, including a global view of collaborations and keyword concepts, refreshed and updated faculty profiles, and the ability to share profile content to social media directly from Scholars. Implemented by the Houston Methodist Office of Research Technology and officially live on Aug. 26., the updates are in place for all research personnel with a Scholars user profile. Powered by Elsevier Pure, Scholars expands our reach and reputation, helping build strong collaborative networks to provide better patient care by discovering novel treatment protocols. View the updates at scholars.houstonmethodist.org.
Office of Technology Transfer Licenses Research Tools
The Office of Technology Transfer wants to help with licensing your research tools. Research tools are “things” produced in the course of, or for use in, research projects. Common examples are cell lines, antibodies, genetically engineered mice, software, and chemical compounds. If researchers or clinicians have created research tools in their labs, they can contact OTT for help marketing them and also earn some extra dollars (personal and departmental). For more information, contact Lynn Crow, senior licensing associate.
Congressionally Directed Medical Research Program
The Congressionally Directed Medical Research Program (CDMRP) has posted two vision surveys to gather Houston Methodist input for directing funding. It cordially invites participation for information used for planning purposes, when future dollars become available. Participation is voluntary, and does not require a reply to every question.
  • CDMRP Peer Reviewed Alzheimer’s Research Program (PRARP)
  • CDMRP Epilepsy Research Program (ERP)
NIH Applicants and Funding Recipients Website
The National Institutes of Health Office of Extramural Research continues to offer resources and information for NIH applicants and recipients of NIH Funding. Here are highlights for Oct. 2020:
  • Upcoming NIH surveys aim to identify impacts of COVID-19 on extramural research. If you receive such a survey, please take time to provide your perspective. The survey results are valuable to inform policy and program decisions as NIH seeks to identify ways to continue to support the biomedical research enterprise.
  • The 2020 NIH Virtual Seminar on Program Funding and Grants Administration, held Tues., Oct. 25 - Fri, Oct. 30, remains geared towards administrators, early stage investigators, graduate students, and others new to working with the NIH grants process. Registration is free.
  • Required Submission of Financial Conflict of Interest Policy into the eRA Commons Institution Profile (IPF) Module will be effective November 12, 2020, for NIH funded recipients. A PDF of the FCOI policy must be submitted by the institutional signing official via the IPF Module under a new tab labeled “Policy Documents.”
  • "Addressing Research Misconduct" is the newest installment of the NIH’s All About Grants podcast series, presented by Christine Ring, PhD, NIH Research Integrity Officer.
To have NIH notices sent directly to you when they are announced, subscribe to the NIH Extramural Nexus News.
Call For Entries: Natural Reflections
The Center for Performing Arts Medicine (CPAM) has announced a call for photographs for "Natural Reflections," the theme of the 2020 Healing Arts Exhibition. All Houston Methodist employees, physicians and volunteers are invited to use what you have and where you are as your creative muse for natural reflections. Selected photographs will be displayed in the Dunn Tower Crosswalk Gallery at Houston Methodist Hospital. The deadline for entries is Monday, Oct. 26, at 5:30 p.m. Participation in this call for entries requires you to have a personal Google account. (If you do not have a Google account, you will be prompted to create one for free.) To review the theme, guidelines, and submit your entry, click here.
National Postdoc Appreciation Week
Sept. 21-25 was National Postdoc Appreciation Week, where across the United States, postdoctoral scholars were honored and celebrated for their great work and contributions. Houston Methodist was pleased to recognize postdocs all week long with special events and celebrations in their honor. The attached calendar shows the development opportunities made available. The celebration also included free lunch for the 2020 National Postdoc Appreciation Week Awards Ceremony. We can never thank our postdocs enough for their leadership, mentorship and continuously excellent work!
NIH Loan Repayment Program
The National Institutes of Health Loan Repayment Programs (LRPs) application cycle opened on Sept. 1, and will close Nov. 20. Approximately 1,500 researchers benefit from more than $70 million the NIH invests each year. Participants in the NIH LRPs can receive up to $100,000 of qualified educational debt repayment with a two-year contract. Institutional business officials (IBOs) will be asked to certify the following for each eligible applicant:
  • An applicant is employed by a domestic, non-profit organization and is not a federal or for-profit employee
  • An applicant is employed to conduct research for an average of at least 20 hours a week per quarter
  • An awardee is prohibited from receiving any salary or research funding support from for-profit institutions during their LRP contract period
  • An applicant has protected research time for the length on the award
  • The research is not prohibited by federal law
  • IBOs are responsible for verifying citizenship
Read the LRP flyer (PDF) for more information, or contact the LRP Information Center at 866-849-4047 or lrp@nih.gov.
COVID-19 Resources
Houston Methodist provides a variety of tools to assist research collaborations and institutions working on projects related to coronavirus. The following resources are available at www.tmh.tmc.edu/tmhri/acma.html
  • Curated COVID-19 Funding Opportunities
  • BCM COVID-19 Literature Reviews
  • Elsevier Coronavirus Research Hub
  • Novel Coronavirus Information Center
  • PURE Coronavirus Portal for Research Collaboration
Read about our COVID-19 research on the Methodology COVID-19 News page.
Roderic I. Pettigrew, MD, PhD, CEO of Engineering Health (EnHealth), executive dean for Engineering Medicine at Texas A&M, and adjunct professor of nanomedicine, Houston Methodist Center for Cardiovascular Regeneration, was awarded the prestigious Vannevar Bush Award by the National Science Board (NSB) on Sept. 28, 2020. The award honors science and technology leaders who have made substantial contributions to the welfare of the nation through public service in science, technology and public policy. Read the National Science Foundation press release.
Faisal Masud, MD, Mary A. and M. Samuel Daffin, Sr. Centennial Chair in Anesthesia and Critical Care, medical director of critical care and professor of clinical anesthesiology, Department of Anesthesiology & Critical Care and Department of Cardiovascular Sciences, DeBakey Heart & Vascular Center, is featured in CityBook’s third annual “Leaders & Legends” series as the 2020 Medical Advocacy Leader. View his profile and see all of the 2020 Leaders and Legends. He also is featured in the current edition of CityBook magazine.
In the Media
Faisal Masud, MD, Mary A. and M. Samuel Daffin, Sr. Centennial Chair in Anesthesia and Critical Care, medical director of critical care and professor of clinical anesthesiology, Department of Anesthesiology & Critical Care and Department of Cardiovascular Sciences, DeBakey Heart & Vascular Center, is quoted in an Oct. 3 story on several NPR stations around the country entitled, "Trump Receives Experimental Drugs For COVID-19. Here’s What Doctors Are Watching For," discussing how President Trump’s disease might develop and what doctors will be watching for in the coming days.
William G. Ondo, MD, director of the Movement Disorders Clinic, Houston Methodist Neurological Institute, and professor of neurology, Stanley H. Appel Department of Neurology, was quoted extensively in an Oct. 1 Good Housekeeping article on what readers should know about Parkinson’s disease, entitled “Treatment Options for Parkinson’s Everyone with the Disease Should Know About.” The story also was picked up by Yahoo!.
Richard J. Robbins, MD, Charles and Anne Duncan Presidential Distinguished Chair, and professor of medicine, Department of Medicine, and Khurram Nasir, MD, MPH, Jerold B. Katz Investigator, and chief of division of Cardiovascular Prevention and Wellness, Department of Cardiology, and co-director, Center for Outcomes Research, were quoted in a Sept. 11 Texas Medical Center News article, entitled “Long-haulers and the lingering effects of COVID-19.”
James M. Musser, MD, PhD, Fondren Presidential Distinguished Chair, chair and professor, Department of Pathology & Genomic Medicine, and director, Center for Molecular & Translational Human Infectious Diseases Research, was interviewed for a Sept. 23 Washington Post exclusive on a study entitled “Molecular Architecture of Early Dissemination and Massive Second Wave of the SARS-CoV-2 Virus in a Major Metropolitan Area.” Accepted for publication in mBio, the study authored by Musser and his team analyzes how the SARS-CoV-2 virus mutated in the second wave of COVID-19 that hit Houston. News of the study also appeared in the Houston Chronicle, Reuters, USA Today, Prevention Magazine, NPR, Business Insider, Voice of America, KPRC & KTRK TV.
Katherine Perez, PharmD, BCPS-AQ ID, assistant professor of allied health sciences, Departments of Pharmacy and Pathology & Genomic Medicine, was interviewed by Reuters for a Sept. 11 article, about the supply of remdesivir and how different hospitals across the nation are administering the antiviral COVID-19 treatment. Perez has been interviewed several times by Reuters as a go-to source for her expertise on remdesivir and its use in Houston Methodist clinical trials. The story was picked up by several outlets nationally, including U.S. News, Yahoo!, MSN, Medscape and the Nasdaq site, among others, reaching an audience of 78.8 million.
New Employees
We welcome our new employees who joined the Academic Institute between Sept. 14 - Oct. 5, 2020.
  • Jesus Calderon, Medical Assistant, Academic Office of Clinical Trials - Operations
  • Xi Chen, Postdoctoral Fellow, CV Regeneration
  • Zulqarnain Javed, Postdoctoral Fellow, Center for Outcomes Research
  • Chelsea Kinney, Research Coordinator I, Neurology
  • Daling Li, Research Technician II, Houston Methodist Cancer Center
  • Sharon Merrett, Sr Executive Assistant, Executive Administration
  • Bharat Bhushan Singh, Postdoctoral Fellow, Infectious Diseases
  • Mauricio Tano Retamales, Data Scientist, Center for Outcomes Research
  • Thien Kim Tran, Regulatory Affairs Specialist, Regulatory Affairs & Translational Management
  • Beena Valiaparambil, Lead Human Resources, HR General
  • Rachel White, CME Sr Coordinator, Non-Departmental BU
  • Stephanie Whitney, Sr Recruiter, Non-Departmental BU
View postings for new job opportunities at the Academic Institute here.
Policy Reminders from the Business Practices Office
In the month of September, the Houston Methodist Business Practices Office sent the following Special Edition.
  • BP in Practice Special Edition is on the topic of Visitors Who Provide Support for Patients with Disabilities.
  • Use these links to find PDFs of System Policies PCPS049 and PCPS096.
If you have questions, contact the BP EthicsLine at 800.500.0333 or visit tmhs.myethicsline.com.
Funding Opportunities
Golfers Against Cancer Request for Applications
Golfers Against Cancer (GAC) announces the reissuance of their Request for Applications (RFA) to support cancer research. Research should target cancer immunology and gene therapy to find a cure for cancer, should be innovative with a high potential for a medical breakthrough and to impact a large population of cancer patients. Results should not be restricted to a single type of cancer. Submission Requirements (strictly enforced):
  • Applicants must complete the attached Excel form (Funding Application tab as one page and Budget tab as one page in Excel spreadsheet). Narratives must fit into the space allocated for each question/inquiry. Do not expand boxes or reduce font size to accommodate lengthy explanations. The application must remain a legible, two-page document.
  • Please include a brief description of how the results and data from your research project will be shared with other institutions in the Texas Medical Center and abroad.
  • Successful applications write in lay terms, as members of the public comprise the review committee. Save application as a two-page PDF document (Funding Application and Budget tabs only).
Funding Information:
Historically, successful applications have been awarded approximately $50,000, excluding matching funds. Houston Methodist Foundation will match the awarded funds. Note: GAC funds are for direct research costs only and do NOT include administrative expenses, travel, patient care, etc. Please send a single PDF of your application to academicaffairs@houstonmethodist.org by 12 Noon on Friday, October 30, 2020. Applications received after the deadline will not be reviewed. Please contact our office for additional information.
DoD Pre-Announcements and Funding Opportunities for 2020
The Department of Defense programs managed by the Office of Congressionally Directed Medical Research Programs (CDMRP) are notifying the research community of recently released fiscal year 2020 pre-announcements and funding opportunities. A listing of all CDMRP and other USAMRDC extramural funding opportunities can be obtained on the Grants.gov website by performing a basic search using CFDA Number 12.420.
A pre-application is required and must be submitted through the electronic Biomedical Research Application Portal (eBRAP) at https://eBRAP.org prior to the pre-application deadline. All applications must conform to the final funding opportunities/program announcements and general application instructions found at Grants.gov. CDMRP understands that applicants are impacted by COVID-19. Submission deadlines for pre-applications and full applications will incorporate the maximum time that is feasible for each FY20 program.
DoD Broad Agency Announcement for Extramural Medical Research
The Department of Defense funding for extramural medical research aims to provide solutions to medical problems of importance to the American service member at home and abroad, as well as to the general public at large. The scope of this effort and the priorities attached to specific projects are influenced by changes in military and civilian medical science and technology, operational requirements, military threat assessments, and national defense strategies. This funding opportunity is continuously open for a five-year period, from Oct.1, 2017 through Sept. 30, 2022, 11:59 p.m. ET. Access the announcement, including all details, in this PDF. Find the DoD proposal form template in this document.
CITO-PSOC Funding Opportunities
The Center for Immunotherapeutic Transport Oncophysics (CITO) is funded by the NIH to examine the physics of cancer and strategies to improve immunotherapies. Details for the following RFAs are available on the CITO website:
  • Trans-Network Projects are small research projects aimed at addressing a challenge in cancer biology from a physical sciences perspective and leveraging the expertise and investigators from multiple PS-OP U01s and/or PS-OC U54s. Focus area(s) and collaborative teams for Trans-Network projects may be proposed by the teams of investigators, with appropriate rationale and justification. The budget is up to $100,000 direct costs per year, with applications submitted on a rolling basis.
  • Scientist Exchange Research Program allows scientists (faculty or researchers beyond the trainee level) to conduct laboratory or clinical research with a host investigator within the CITO, PS-ON, or beyond. A main goal of the Scientist Exchange Program is to encourage cross-disciplinary collaborations between research groups. Applications may address any particular challenge and are highly encouraged to complement or synergize with the current CITO projects. The budget is approximately $10,000 in direct costs for up to six months, with applications submitted on a rolling basis.
  • Trainee Research allows trainees (postdoctoral, graduate, or undergraduate trainees) to participate in short-term, interactive laboratory or clinical research with a host investigator within the CITO/PS-ON. The proposed research should be under the overarching theme of transport oncophysics, in the context of cancer immunology and immunotherapy. Applications may address any particular challenge and are highly encouraged to complement or synergize with the current CITO projects. The budget is approximately $5,000 in direct costs for up to 10 weeks, with applications submitted on a rolling basis.
All applications should be in PDF and emailed to cito-psoc@houstonmethodist.org. The PS-ON Catalogue of Techniques is available on the Synapse Knowledge Portal, offering additional methods for potential collaboration or training opportunities.