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Rice University, Houston Methodist announce human performance joint research project

A new collaboration between Houston institutions is looking into physiology, injury prevention, and rehabilitation. Photo via Getty Images

Rice University and Houston Methodist have teamed up to launch an initiative designed to enhance research and education about human performance.

The Houston Methodist-Rice University Center for Human Performance will enable physicians, academic researchers, and university students to collaborate with student athletes, trainers, and coaches. Their work will advance joint research, establish critical care programs, and promote educational activities in exercise physiology, injury prevention, and rehabilitation.

“Enhancing performance means optimizing results, and the study of human performance applies to more than sports,” Heidi Perkins, teaching professor and chair of Rice’s Department of Kinesiology, says in a news release. “Research in human performance benefits athletes, but it also benefits older adults, performing artists, people with disabilities, surgical patients — basically anyone who needs to function better and improve their quality of life through some combination of physical activity, nutrition, sleep, and the like.”

The center — led by Houston Methodist’s Department of Orthopedics and Sports Medicine, Rice Kinesiology, and Rice Athletics — is being housed in 6,000 square feet of renovated space at the university’s Tudor Fieldhouse. Technology at the center will allow such activities as 3D motion capture, measurement of bone density, cardiovascular screening, and aerobic performance testing.

Tom Killian, dean of natural sciences at Rice, says development of the center is a “transformational moment” for the university’s kinesiology department.

“The Center for Human Performance will attract new faculty, provide student research and internship opportunities, and create opportunities for interdisciplinary collaborations between Rice Kinesiology faculty and peers in biomechanics, neuroscience, human factors, robotics, wearable technologies, data sciences, biosciences, and other disciplines,” Killian says.

Dr. Patrick McCulloch, the John S. Dunn Chair of Orthopedics at Houston Methodist, says the center offers a “unique opportunity” to propel research and knowledge about human performance.

“Researchers with the center will develop novel techniques to prevent, treat, and recover from musculoskeletal injuries and diseases,” McCulloch says. “Ultimately, these efforts will have a huge benefit for our patients at Houston Methodist. High-performance athletes, older adults, and everyone in between will have access to treatment that is informed by the cutting-edge research undertaken at the center.”

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Building Houston

 
 

You can now hop online and invest in this promising cell therapy startup. Photo via Getty Images

A clinical-stage company headquartered in Houston has opened an online funding campaign.

FibroBiologics, which is developing fibroblast cell-based therapeutics for chronic diseases, launched a campaign with equity crowdfunding platform StartEngine. The platform lets anyone — regardless of their net worth or income level — to invest in securities issued by startups.

The funding, according to a press release, will be used to support ongoing operations of Fibrobiologics and advance its clinical programs in multiple sclerosis, degenerative disc disease, wound care, extension of life, and cancer.

"We're excited to partner with StartEngine on this campaign. StartEngine has over 600,000 investors as part of their community and has raised over half a billion dollars for its clients," says FibroBiologics' Founder and CEO Pete O'Heeron, in the release.

"This is an exciting time at FibroBiologics as we continue progressing our clinical pipeline and developing innovative therapies to treat chronic diseases," he continues. "This new funding will fuel our growth in the lab and bring us one step closer to commercialization."

The campaign, launched this week, already has over 100 investors, at the time of publication, and has raised nearly $2 million, according to the page. The minimum investment is set at around $500, and the company's indicated valuation is $252.57 million.

In 2021, FibroBiologics announced its intention of going public. Last year, O'Heeron told InnovationMap on the Houston Innovators Podcast of the company's growth plans as well as the specifics of the technology.

Only two types of cells — stem cells and fibroblasts — can be used in cell therapy for a regenerative treatment, which is when specialists take healthy cells from a patient and inject them into a part of the body that needs it the most. As O'Heeron explains in the podcast, fibroblasts can do it more effectively and cheaper than stem cells.

"(Fibroblasts) can essentially do everything a stem cell can do, only they can do it better," says O'Heeron. "We've done tests in the lab and we've seen them outperform stem cells by a low of 50 percent to a high of about 220 percent on different disease paths."


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