Who's who

3 Houston innovators to know this week

From leading OTC or the TMC to the future of recycling — here's who's having a busy week in innovation. Courtesy photos

May in Houston is starting off right with the Offshore Technology conference making its home in NRG Park all this week. There's thousands of business men and women in town for the events — if you're among them, check out these can't miss innovation-related events at OTC. OTC aside, big things are happening in the Texas Medical Center as well as in electronics manufacturing. Here's which Houston innovators to keep an eye on this week.

Wafik Beydoun, chairman of the board of OTC

Wafik Beydoun has served on the board of OTC for almost a decade. Courtesy of Beydoun

It's the 50th year for the Houston-based Offshore Technology Conference — which starts today — to take over the town, and it's Wafik Beydoun's last event as chairman of the board. He's been involved with the organization for almost a decade and he's seen the technology evolve in the industry and at OTC.

"The rising tide of the digital revolution is lifting us all — not only OTC or the industry — and it's lifting us at an exponential rate," Beydoun tells InnovationMap. "Digital is moving now exponentially, whether we want it to or not, we're benefitting from it." Read the full Q&A with Beydoun here.

Kelly Hess, CEO of CompuCycle

Kelly Hess leads CompuCycle, a Houston-based company focused on electronics recycling. Courtesy of CompuCycle

The game is forever changed for Kelly Hess. CompuCycle is her electronics recycling company she leads as CEO with her husband, Clive, who is executive vice president of the company. The company just got a major addition to its team: a electronics shredder that can process 40,000 pounds daily of parts from machines that can't be refurbished. The new shredder is the only of its kind in Houston and is perfectly timed for the company, following a 2018 Chinese law.

"China is no longer accepting scrap, which is where a lot of materials would go after it was dismantled," Kelly says. "That's why we've created this solution to be able to responsibly handle it here in the U.S." Read more about CompuCycle and where recycling is headed.

Bill McKeon, CEO of the Texas Medical Center

TMC has revealed renderings and new details about the new TMC3 campus. Photo via tmc.edu

Bill McKeon might be one of the busiest businessmen in town. He's leading the largest medical center in the world, while simultaneously building it even bigger. The Texas Medical Center — along with the other institutional partners — released new renderings and details about the TMC3 campus.

"Texas Medical Center is eager to move forward with a bold, imaginative and dynamic new design vision for the TMC3 Master Plan," says TMC CEO and president, Bill McKeon, in a press release. "With the combined talents of Elkus Manfredi Architects, Transwestern, and Vaughn Construction on-board, I couldn't be more confident that this dream team will flawlessly execute the totality of the project's vision and fulfill its mission to bring together leading researchers and top-tiered expertise from the private sector to create the number one biotechnology and bioscience innovation center in the entire world." Click here to check out the renderings and read the full story.Click here to check out the renderings and read the full story.

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Houston-based imaware, which has an at-home COVID-19 testing process, is working with Texas A&M University on researching how the virus affects the human body. Getty Images

An ongoing medical phenomenon is determining how COVID-19 affects people differently — especially in terms of severity. A new partnership between a Houston-based digital health platform and Texas A&M University is looking into differences in individual risk factors for the virus.

Imaware, which launched its at-home coronavirus testing kit in April, is using its data and information collected from the testing process for this new study on how the virus affects patients differently.

"As patient advocates, we want to aid in the search to understand more about why some patients are more vulnerable than others to the deadly complications of COVID-19," says Jani Tuomi, co-founder of imaware, in a press release. "Our current sample collection process is an efficient way to provide longitudinal prospectively driven data for research and to our knowledge, is the only such approach that is collecting, assessing, and biobanking specimens in real time."

Imaware uses a third-party lab to conduct the tests at patients' homes following the Center for Disease Control's guidelines and protocol. During the test, the medical professional takes additional swabs for the study. The test is then conducted by Austin-based Wheel, a telemedicine group.

Should the patient receive positive COVID-19 results, they are contacted by a representative of Wheel with further instructions. They are also called by a member of a team led by Dr. Rebecca Fischer, an infectious disease expert and epidemiologist and laboratory scientist at the Texas A&M University School of Public Health, to grant permission to be a part of the study.

Once a part of the study, the patient remains in contact with Fischer's team, which tracks the spread and conditions of the virus in the patient. One thing the researchers are looking for is the patients' responses to virus complications caused by an overabundance of cytokines, according to the press release. Cytokines are proteins in the body that fight viruses and infections, and, if not working properly, they can "trigger an over-exuberant inflammatory response" that can cause potentially deadly issues with lung and organ failure or worse, per the release.

"We believe strongly in supporting this research, as findings from the field can be implemented to improve clinical processes-- helping even more patients," says Wheel's executive medical director, Dr. Rafid Fadul.

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