Baylor College of Medicine's Lillie and Roy Cullen Tower is set to open in 2026. Rendering courtesy of SLAM Architecture

Baylor College of Medicine has collected $100 million toward its $150 million fundraising goal for the college’s planned Lillie and Roy Cullen Tower.

The $100 million in gifts include:

  • A total of $30 million from The Cullen Foundation, The Cullen Trust for Health Care, and The Cullen Trust for Higher Education.
  • $12 million from the DeBakey Medical Foundation
  • $10 million from the Huffington Foundation
  • More than $45 million from members of Baylor’s Board of Trustees and other community donors, including the M.D. Anderson Foundation, the Albert and Margaret Alkek Foundation, and The Elkins Foundation.

“The Cullen Trust for Health Care is very honored to support this building along with The Cullen Foundation and The Cullen Trust for Higher Education,” Cullen Geiselman Muse, chair of The Cullen Trust for Health Care, says in a news release. “We cannot wait to see what new beginnings will come from inside the Lillie and Roy Cullen Tower.”

The Baylor campus is next to Texas Medical Center’s Helix Park, a 37-acre project. Rendering courtesy of BCM

The Lillie and Roy Cullen Tower is set to open in 2026. The 503,000-square-foot tower is the first phase of Baylor’s planned Health Sciences Park, an 800,000-square-foot project that will feature medical education and research adjacent to patient care at Baylor Medicine and Baylor St. Luke’s Medical Center on the McNair Campus.

The Baylor campus is next to Texas Medical Center’s Helix Park, a 37-acre project that will support healthcare, life sciences, and business ventures. Baylor is the anchor tenant in the first building being constructed at Helix Park.

“To really change the future of health, we need a space that facilitates the future,” says Dr. Paul Klotman, president, CEO, and executive dean of Baylor. “We need to have a great building to recruit great talent. Having a place where our clinical programs are located, where our data scientists are, next to a biotech development center, and having our medical students all integrated into that environment will allow them to be ready in the future for where healthcare is going.”

In the 1940s, Lillie and Roy Cullen and the M.D. Anderson Foundation were instrumental in establishing the Texas Medical Center, which is now the world’s largest medical complex.

“Baylor is the place it is today because of philanthropy,” Klotman says. “The Cullen family, the M.D. Anderson Foundation, and the Albert and Margaret Alkek Foundation have been some of Baylor’s most devoted champions, which has enabled Baylor to mold generations of exceptional health sciences professionals. It is fitting that history is repeating itself with support for this state-of-the-art education building.”

The Cullen Foundation donated $30 million to the project. Rendering courtesy of BCM

One of Houston's biggest medical office projects — the $1.3 billion, 400,000-square-foot O’Quinn Medical Tower — is expected to deliver this year. Photo courtesy of Baylor College of Medicine

Report: Houston to see highest concentration of medical office project completions this year

opening soon

Medical office and life sciences projects are making a big splash in Houston’s commercial real estate sector in 2023.

The 42Floors commercial real estate website ranks five Houston-area medical office buildings among the country’s 20 largest medical office projects set to open this year. Meanwhile, 42Floors identifies two Houston developments among the 20 biggest U.S. life sciences projects on tap to debut in 2023.

Leading the list of the largest U.S. medical office buildings scheduled to be completed this year is the $1.3 billion, 400,000-square-foot O’Quinn Medical Tower. Set to open April 14 at the McNair Campus of Baylor St. Luke’s Medical Center, the outpatient facility will adjoin the McNair Hospital Tower, which opened in 2019.

The O’Quinn tower will serve as the new clinical home of the Dan L Duncan Comprehensive Cancer Center. The center is a federally designated facility for cancer care and research.

Highlights of the 12-story O’Quinn tower, southeast of the Texas Medical Center, include:

  • Ambulatory surgery center with 12 operating rooms and 10 endoscopy suites
  • 80-bay setup for infusion therapy
  • More than 70 exam rooms
  • More than 850 parking spaces

In all, five medical office properties in the Houston area made the 42Floors list, representing the highest concentration of major projects in any U.S. metro area that are scheduled to open this year. The four medical office properties joining the O’Quinn tower on the list are:

  • Houston Methodist Sugar Land Medical Office Building 4, 159,252 square feet
  • Kelsey-Seybold Springwoods Village Campus, 157,983 square feet
  • Kelsey-Seybold Ambulatory Surgery Center in Clear Lake, 116,000 square feet
  • 1715 Project in Friendswood, 107,000 square feet

A separate 42Floors list ranks Dynamic One, part of Baylor College of Medicine’s TMC Helix Park, as the second largest life sciences project in the U.S. set to come online this year. Houston’s TMC3 Collaborative Building lands at No. 19.

The 12-story Dynamic One project will feature lab space, offices, restaurants, and stores. It represents the first of four buildings planned for the 37-acre, five-million-square-foot TMC Helix Park, which is projected to generate an economic impact of $5.4 billion.

The 42Floors list puts the square footage of Dynamic One’s north tower at 365,000. Organizations involved in the project cite the square footage as 355,000.

The Baylor College of Medicine has signed up as Dynamic One’s anchor tenant. It will occupy 114,000 square feet of lab and office space.

“Baylor College of Medicine is a major force in life sciences discovery and commercialization at TMC. Their move to TMC Helix Park will serve as a catalyst for enhanced collaboration with TMC’s other esteemed Institutions, as well as with industry leaders from around the world,” Bill McKeon, president and CEO of TMC, says in a news release.

Also located at TMC Helix Park, the four-story TMC3 Collaborative Building will span 250,000 square feet. It will contain research facilities for MD Anderson Cancer Center, the Texas A&M University Health Science Center, the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston, and TMC.

In addition, the TMC3 Collaborative Building will house life sciences companies, the TMC Data Collaborative, the TMC Venture Fund, the Braidwell hedge fund, and venture capital and private equity firms.

The new tower will be home of the Dan L Duncan Comprehensive Cancer Center. Photo courtesy of Baylor College of Medicine

Pivotal new cancer research tower tops off in the Texas Medical Center

coming soon

Anew structure aimed at greatly expanding medical services and outpatient care to residents of Greater Houston recently topped off.

At an official ceremony attended by VIPs and industry names, Baylor St. Luke's Medical Center toasted the completion of the concrete structure pivotal in the construction of the O'Quinn Medical Tower at the McNair Campus.

This new 12-story O'Quinn Medical Tower at Baylor St. Luke's - McNair Campus will be the new clinical home for the Dan L Duncan Comprehensive Cancer Center, per a release. The center is nationally ranked for cancer care by U.S. News & World Report and is one of only three National Cancer Institute-designated comprehensive cancer centers in Texas. It earned that designation through Baylor College of Medicine.

Additionally, the O'Quinn Medical Tower is part of the expanding McNair Campus. This campus promises more than 400,000 square feet of space to support and provide personalized care to patients and families, including another hospital bed tower and ambulatory care center, press materials describe.

Those familiar with the area will recognize that the campus sits directly adjacent to the planned site of TMC3, a new 37-acre campus that will be located between Old Spanish Trail and Brays Bayou.

"The new O'Quinn Tower and its designation as the clinical home of Baylor's Dan L Duncan Comprehensive Cancer Center will be an important milestones in Baylor's mission," said Dr. Paul Klotman, president, CEO and executive dean of Baylor College of Medicine, in a release. "The McNair Campus is the hub of our clinical activity, and we look forward to the continued expansion."

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This article originally ran on CultureMap.

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Houston researchers create AI model to tap into how brain activity relates to illness

brainiac

Houston researchers are part of a team that has created an AI model intended to understand how brain activity relates to behavior and illness.

Scientists from Baylor College of Medicine worked with peers from Yale University, University of Southern California and Idaho State University to make Brain Language Model, or BrainLM. Their research was published as a conference paper at ICLR 2024, a meeting of some of deep learning’s greatest minds.

“For a long time we’ve known that brain activity is related to a person’s behavior and to a lot of illnesses like seizures or Parkinson’s,” Dr. Chadi Abdallah, associate professor in the Menninger Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Baylor and co-corresponding author of the paper, says in a press release. “Functional brain imaging or functional MRIs allow us to look at brain activity throughout the brain, but we previously couldn’t fully capture the dynamic of these activities in time and space using traditional data analytical tools.

"More recently, people started using machine learning to capture the brain complexity and how it relates it to specific illnesses, but that turned out to require enrolling and fully examining thousands of patients with a particular behavior or illness, a very expensive process,” Abdallah continues.

Using 80,000 brain scans, the team was able to train their model to figure out how brain activities related to one another. Over time, this created the BrainLM brain activity foundational model. BrainLM is now well-trained enough to use to fine-tune a specific task and to ask questions in other studies.

Abdallah said that using BrainLM will cut costs significantly for scientists developing treatments for brain disorders. In clinical trials, it can cost “hundreds of millions of dollars,” he said, to enroll numerous patients and treat them over a significant time period. By using BrainLM, researchers can enroll half the subjects because the AI can select the individuals most likely to benefit.

The team found that BrainLM performed successfully in many different samples. That included predicting depression, anxiety and PTSD severity better than other machine learning tools that do not use generative AI.

“We found that BrainLM is performing very well. It is predicting brain activity in a new sample that was hidden from it during the training as well as doing well with data from new scanners and new population,” Abdallah says. “These impressive results were achieved with scans from 40,000 subjects. We are now working on considerably increasing the training dataset. The stronger the model we can build, the more we can do to assist with patient care, such as developing new treatment for mental illnesses or guiding neurosurgery for seizures or DBS.”

For those suffering from neurological and mental health disorders, BrainLM could be a key to unlocking treatments that will make a life-changing difference.

Houston-based cleantech unicorn named among annual top disruptors

on the rise

Houston-based biotech startup Solugen is making waves among innovative companies.

Solugen appears at No. 36 on CNBC’s annual Disruptor 50 list, which highlights private companies that are “upending the classic definition of disruption.” Privately owned startups founded after January 1, 2009, were eligible for the Disruptor 50 list.

Founded in 2016, Solugen replaces petroleum-based products with plant-derived substitutes through its Bioforge manufacturing platform. For example, it uses engineered enzymes and metal catalysts to convert feedstocks like sugar into chemicals that have traditionally been made from fossil fuels, such as petroleum and natural gas.

Solugen has raised $643 million in funding and now boasts a valuation of $2.2 billion.

“Sparked by a chance medical school poker game conversation in 2016, Solugen evolved from prototype to physical asset in five years, and production hit commercial scale shortly thereafter,” says CNBC.

Solugen co-founders Gaurab Chakrabarti and Sean Hunt received the Entrepreneur of The Year 2023 National Award, presented by professional services giant EY.

“Solugen is a textbook startup launched by two partners with $10,000 in seed money that is revolutionizing the chemical refining industry. The innovation-driven company is tackling impactful, life-changing issues important to the planet,” Entrepreneur of The Year judges wrote.

In April 2024, Solugen broke ground on a Bioforge biomanufacturing plant in Marshall, Minnesota. The 500,000-square-foot, 34-acre facility arose through a Solugen partnership with ADM. Chicago-based ADM produces agricultural products, commodities, and ingredients. The plant is expected to open in the fall of 2025.

“Solugen’s … technology is a transformative force in sustainable chemical manufacturing,” says Hunt. “The new facility will significantly increase our existing capabilities, enabling us to expand the market share of low-carbon chemistries.”

Houston cleantech company tests ​all-electric CO2-to-fuel production technology

RESULTS ARE IN

Houston-based clean energy company Syzygy Plasmonics has successfully tested all-electric CO2-to-fuel production technology at RTI International’s facility at North Carolina’s Research Triangle Park.

Syzygy says the technology can significantly decarbonize transportation by converting two potent greenhouse gases, carbon dioxide and methane, into low-carbon jet fuel, diesel, and gasoline.

Equinor Ventures and Sumitomo Corp. of Americas sponsored the pilot project.

“This project showcases our ability to fight climate change by converting harmful greenhouse gases into fuel,” Trevor Best, CEO of Syzygy, says in a news release.

“At scale,” he adds, “we’re talking about significantly reducing and potentially eliminating the carbon intensity of shipping, trucking, and aviation. This is a major step toward quickly and cost effectively cutting emissions from the heavy-duty transport sector.”

At commercial scale, a typical Syzygy plant will consume nearly 200,000 tons of CO2 per year, the equivalent of taking 45,000 cars off the road.

“The results of this demonstration are encouraging and represent an important milestone in our collaboration with Syzygy,” says Sameer Parvathikar, director of renewable energy and energy storage at RTI.

In addition to the CO2-to-fuel demonstration, Syzygy's Ammonia e-Cracking™ technology has completed over 2,000 hours of performance and optimization testing at its plant in Houston. Syzygy is finalizing a site and partners for a commercial CO2-to-fuel plant.

Syzygy is working to decarbonize the chemical industry, responsible for almost 20 percent of industrial CO2 emissions, by using light instead of combustion to drive chemical reactions.

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This article originally ran on EnergyCapital.