The program trains health care providers various youth health specialties to help them treat adolescents holistically and comprehensively. Photo via BCM.edu

A Houston-based training program focused on training leaders in adolescent and young adult health has just received fresh funding to support its cause.

The Baylor College of Medicine-Texas Medical Center Leadership Education in Adolescent Health, or BCM-TMC LEAH, training program has been awarded a five-year grant totaling $2.3 million. The program is one of only seven such training programs funded by the Health Resources and Services Administration and the Maternal and Child Health Bureau.

“Adolescents make up about 20 percent of the U.S. population yet account for disproportionate rates of mortality from accidents, homicides, suicide, and other conditions related to mental illness,” says Dr. Albert C. Hergenroeder, professor and chief of the division of adolescent medicine and sports medicine and project director for BCM-TMC LEAH, in a news release. “The goal is to train and prepare healthcare professionals to assume leadership roles in the development and improvement of the system of care for adolescents and young adults locally, in Texas, in HRSA Region 6 (Oklahoma, New Mexico, Arkansas and Louisiana), and nationally.”

BCM-TMC LEAH provides didactic, experiential, and research-based interdisciplinary education and training, per the news release, across core health disciplines of medicine, nursing, nutrition, psychology, social work, and public health. It's the fourth time since 1997 the program has received funding.

Along with Hergenroeder, Dr. Connie Wiemann, director of research in the division of adolescent medicine and sports medicine, based at Texas Children’s Hospital, is co-director of the program. The two medical professionals also collaborate with:

  • Dr. Diane Santa-Maria, dean and associate professor in the Department of Research at the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston Cizik School of Nursing
  • Dr. Christine Markham, chair of health promotion and behavioral sciences and deputy director for the Texas Prevention Research Center at University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston School of Public Health
  • Dr. Sarah Norendorf, associate professor and associate dean for research and faculty development
  • Shelley Gonzales, clinical assistant professor and assistant director of field education at the University of Houston Graduate College of Social Work.

“There has been an increased urgency during the last few years of the need to address adolescent health problems, such as suicide, eating disorders and violence in adolescents,” Hergenroeder says. “These problems require solutions for populations as well as individuals.

"For example," Hergenroeder continues, "an individual patient with an eating disorder will require treatment with an interdisciplinary team of physicians, psychologists, nurses, dietitians and social workers yet for a population, the expertise of researchers and public health experts should look at what broader interventions might be used in the prevention of eating disorders. LEAH is designed to give comprehensive training in all aspects of the threats to adolescent and young adult health in the U.S.”

The program trains pre- and postdoctoral students, medicine fellows, and residents by connecting them with faculty across a multitude of related specialized fields. The trainees then go into communities prepared to holistically treat and focus on problems adolescents and young adults are facing, going beyond just physical and mental health.

“The comprehensive training experience also includes a focus on skills to conduct and disseminate research to promote practices and policies that impact adolescents and young adults in a variety of settings,” said Wiemann. "All trainees will learn tools to engage stakeholders and identify opportunities to improve systems of care. In this way, all disciplines play an important role in improving the health and well-being of this population. And healthcare administrative training is incorporated into the LEAH program so that LEAH trainees will be able to successfully execute great research, clinical, teaching and advocacy programs to improve adolescent and young adult health."

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Why this Houston health care professional jumped in the founder seat to disrupt the industry

problem solver

Ayoade Joy Ademuyewo says that anesthesiology is “the coolest thing in the world.” That’s why she became a certified registered nurse anesthetist.

And that career, which she says is “the perfect blend of science and art,” led to the creation of her startup, Lokum.

Lokum App is a matchmaking engine that aims to connect Ademuyewo’s peers with jobs. She explains that before her innovation, staffing for nurse anesthetists traditionally owed to job boards 30 years older than she was or to recruitment agencies that left them at a disadvantage.

“I didn't want to use that job board because it was sort of difficult to use and I didn't want to use it and a lot of other people felt the same way,” she recalls.

When a desperate friend asked for her help navigating the terrain of finding CRNA work as an independent contractor, Ademuyewo says the wheels began turning in her mind.

“I just thought, 'Why can't I open up my phone and see all of the available jobs to me, based on my preferences and my skills? And I can easily select from them to go to my next job.' And that's sort of where the questions started. And I just kept asking those questions. And I think about two or three years into asking the questions I was like, 'Oh my gosh, I think I'm starting a company,'” Ademuyewo says.

In the hours that she wasn’t in surgery, the CRNA began doing market research.

“As I was studying the market, and mapping it out, these really complex mind maps started to happen. And it was almost a natural conclusion that the more you understand the problem, the more the solution starts to appear to you,” she explains.

And she saw that the obvious solution was also potentially a big opportunity for her to create something entirely new — neither a job board nor an agency, but something entirely new. Ademuyewo calls Lokum a “matchmaking engine.” It takes the preferences, specialties and skills of CRNAs like her and matches them to jobs that make sense for them. To date, the pilot has connected users with around 200 hospitals and clinics in 20 states.

Fortunately, because there are so few CRNAs in practice, they are a unified bunch.

“It’s a really well-networked profession,” says Ademuyewo. “ I'm lucky to be in a profession where what we do is really special and really specialized.”

Because she was already part of the tight knit community, the founder had no trouble finding pilot customers. She worked with Houston-based Octaria Software to engineer the technical side of the app, as well as another local cybersecurity firm to work on infrastructure.

Lots of big news has come for Ademuyewo in the first half of 2024. She participated in this year’s cohort of the Google for Startups Accelerator Program-North America, which she says helped to gain traction in her fundraising amid a bear market.

The result? Early this month, Lokum announced a raise of $700,000 in pre-seed funding, which will be allocated to improving and enhancing the existing technology. Those funds came from Houston investors including Aileen Allen, of the Houston Angel Network, Mercury, and The Artemis Fund; and Matt Miller, former Liongard product executive, as well as from Houston-based VC firm South Loop Ventures. More came from the non-local JP Morgan and Techstars.

Today, Ademuyewo is devoted full-time to Lokum, though she still practices her favorite combination of science and art on weekends in order to maintain her licensure.

“I will always be clinical, that will never change,” she says. “Part of that is just staying close to the problem and the people who are experiencing it, I think that is exactly the right thing for me to be doing.”

Houston energy company opens applications for unique energy tech startup pilot program

calling all innovators

Houston-based NOV is launching a new growth-stage startup accelerator focused on the upstream oil and gas industry.

NOV, a provider of oil and gas drilling and production operations equipment, has announced its new NOV Supernova Accelerator in collaboration with VentureBuilder, a consulting firm, investor, and accelerator program operator led by a group of Houston innovators.

Applications to the program are open online, and the deadline to apply is July 7. Specifically, NOV is looking for companies working on solutions in data management and analytics, operational efficiency, HSE monitoring, predictive maintenance, and digital twins.

The five-month program establishes a significant relationship between the 20 selected startups and NOV, beginning with paid pilot programs.

"This is not a traditional startup accelerator. This is often a first-client relationship to help disruptive startups refine product-market fit and creatively solve our pressing enterprise problems," reads the program's website.

Selected startups will have direct access to NOV's team and resources. The program will require companies to spend one week per month in person at NOV headquarters in Houston and will provide support surrounding several themes, including go-to-market strategy, pitch practice, and more.

“The NOV Supernova Accelerator offers a strategic approach where the company collaborates with startups in a vendor-client relationship to address specific business needs," says Billy Grandy, general partner of VentureBuilder.vc, in a statement. "Unlike mergers and acquisitions, the venture client model allows corporations like NOV to quickly test and implement new technologies without committing to an acquisition or risking significant investment.”

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This article originally ran on EnergyCapital.