money moves

Houston hospital snags $1M to advance Alzheimer’s research

Houston Methodist's Nantz National Alzheimer Center received a $1 million donation to continue research in neurodegenerative diseases. Photo via Houston Methodist

Thanks to a recent donation, Houston Methodist is setting up an endowment to support research in neurodegenerative diseases.

Susan and William “Dub” Henning, Jr. have committed to a $1 million gift to Houston Methodist to support Alzheimer’s research at the Nantz National Alzheimer Center at the hospital. This gift will be used to create the Susan and William Henning Jr. Neurodegenerative Research Endowment and in response, a NNAC family room will be named in memory of Dub’s parents, Lena and William Henning.

“Knowing the impact that Alzheimer’s can have not only on patients, but also on the immediate and extended family members experiencing the disease inspired us to support the work being done at the Nantz National Alzheimer Center,” says Dub Henning in a news release. “We want to give hope to families struggling with this disease and contribute to ultimately finding a cure.”

Every year, the NNAC — led by Joseph C. Masdeu — treats thousands of patients looking to prevent Alzheimer’s disease, slow memory loss progression, and improve their quality of life. In 2021 alone, the center provided more than 4,000 patient visits. The fresh funding will allow for Dr. Masdeu's research projects — including more than 26 current studies, 14 in clinical trials and 12 studies to clarify the nature of diseases causing dementia — to continue the important work.

“One of our clinical trials will determine the effects of exercise in preventing deposits of amyloid and tau, two of the proteins that accumulate in the brain of people living with Alzheimer’s disease, and we’re also exploring the role of proper sleep in disease development,” says Masdeu in the release. “Among other studies, we are collaborating with Baylor College of Medicine to define genetic and chemical factors predisposing to the accumulation of amyloid and tau in the brain of people at all stages of the Alzheimer’s spectrum.

"These promising developments would not be possible without the compassion and generosity of community supporters like the Henning family," he continues.

Susan and William “Dub” Henning, Jr. gave a $1 million gift to Houston Methodist. Photo courtesy of Houston Methodist

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Building Houston


Cemvita has some news regarding its C-level execs. Photo courtesy of Cemvita

An innovative Houston startup that's working with energy companies to decarbonize their operations has made changes to its C-suite.

Tara Karimi, who co-founded Cemvita with her brother Moji, has transition to the company's chief science officer. Liz Dennett has been hired to Karimi's previous role of CTO. The changes enable Karimi to focus on leading Cemvita's scientific research and development efforts as well as participating in driving innovation within the biotech industry as a whole, according to the company's press release.

"I'm excited to take on the role of chief science officer at Cemvita and what it represents for our company's growth," says Karimi in the release. "As chief science officer, I look forward to shaping policy and driving the conversation around the role of biotechnology in the energy transition."

As CTO, Dennett will lead the development of Cemvita's unique biotech products that tap into microbes to decarbonize operations on energy plants. Most recently, Dennett was vice president of data architecture and data engineering at Wood Mackenzie. She previously worked in tech and sustainability-focused roles at Hess Corp., Biota Technology, and Amazon Web Services.

“Working with biological systems presents a unique challenge but also a unique opportunity," says Dennett in the release. "It’s uniquely difficult to go from benchtop to in-situ reactors or oil wells with microbes and to achieve the kind of incredible results that we’re seeing in the lab. You need to build teams with deep specializations in chemistry, biology, energy systems, and geology.”

Dennett, who has her PhD and Master's from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and has served on Cemvita's advisory board for about a year, will report to CEO Moji Karimi directly.

“I know that Tara and Liz are going to make history at Cemvita,” says Moji Karimi in the release. “With 15 years of experience using data-driven approaches to solve pressing energy challenges, Liz brings to bear the kind of creativity and expertise that can quickly and meaningfully advance Cemvita’s impact on the Energy Transition.”

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