The advent of AI pushes us humans to acquire new skills and hone our existing abilities so we can work alongside these evolving technologies in a collaborative fashion. Image via Getty Images

Over the past 10 years of my career, I have been afforded unique opportunities to work in many roles across the healthcare industry. This includes stints in HR, sales, marketing, and operational roles at a myriad of organizations including small start-up companies, hospital networks, and even my own single-member LLC.

The uncertainty of the job market is ever evolving with close to 200,000 tech workers being laid off last year alone. The rise of AI is changing the employment structure across all industries which is why I feel fortunate to have a plethora of experiences and skills to pull from.

There is mounting concern about AI taking away our jobs, but in reality, we have been living harmoniously with AI tools for quite some time (think – spell check or autocorrect on your text messages). In many instances, we appreciate the benefits that AI brings including automation of repetitive tasks, data entry, and increased efficiencies. Don’t get me wrong, AI is certainly being exploited in some use cases like deepfakes so it is essential to stay vigilant. Overall, I am optimistic about AI improving healthcare, an area where we are experiencing significant financial strains, an overburdened workforce, and clinician shortages.

The advent of AI pushes us humans to acquire new skills and hone our existing abilities so we can work alongside these evolving technologies in a collaborative fashion. AI augments human capabilities rather than replacing us. I believe it will help our society embrace lifelong learning, creating new industries and jobs that have never existed before. These are some reasons why I am not worried about AI eliminating my job in the near future:

AI does not have human skills

AI may be able to beat humans at intelligent tasks like chess, yet prowess such as communication, teamwork, leadership, and emotional intelligence are increasingly important and difficult to automate. According to LinkedIn, the most in-demand skills for professionals are all uniquely human abilities, working in tandem with AI to drive organizational success. In addition, many jobs require some level of creative thinking, making them less susceptible to automation.

AI is not a physical being

Even after living through a global pandemic where many jobs existed only virtually, there is no replacement to the physical being or human touch. Technology can fill a lot of gaps but sitting face to face with another human being is not one of them. In fact, Forbes reported that 90 percent of companies will return to the office in 2024. There will always be power in bringing people together, whether one-on-one meetings, team gatherings, or company wide events.

AI alone cannot implement change

Technology is only as powerful as the people who use it. Sometimes, the hardest part of innovation is not adopting new technology or implementing different protocols but simply getting people to change. Nonetheless, adaptability has proven time and time again to be one of the strongest human traits. Change takes time and trust, both of which AI cannot solve on its own.

While working on this article, I wanted to see what the AI expert thinks and asked “Should I be worried about AI taking away my job?” Here is what Chat GPT responded:

While there is potential for AI to automate certain jobs, it also creates opportunities for new roles and enhances productivity. The key to mitigating the risk is to stay informed, continuously learn, and adapt to new technologies. Emphasizing uniquely human skills and exploring how AI can be a tool rather than a replacement can help secure your place in the evolving job market.

I appreciate Chat GPT’s confidence that humans and AI can co-exist. The future is already here.

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Arielle Rogg is the principal and founder of Rogg Enterprises, a Houston-based company providing digital marketing for health care innovators.

Daniel Barvin has a neurodegenerative disease in his near future. He joined Houston-based Coya Therapeutics to help fight for a cure to the aggressively deadly ALS. Photo via Getty Images

How this Houston innovator is using his personal connection to ALS fuel his fight for a cure

guest column

We can never predict how our lives will turn out, but then maybe some of us can. Genetic testing showed that I, like my grandfather, aunt, uncle and father before me, would most likely die of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, more commonly known as ALS, and/or frontotemporal degeneration (FTD) in my 40s.

Being 36, it’s possible that fear could have overtaken my life, but instead I chose to fight for every chance to change not only my life, but the lives of millions who are suffering or may one day suffer from neurodegenerative disease.

ALS is a rare disease that robs one of their ability to control their muscles, leading them to lose their ability to walk, talk and eventually breathe. Eighty percent of cases are sporadic (of unknown origin) and 20 percent have known genetic causes.

When I learned that I carried the C9ORF72 genetic variant, a causative genetic variant for ALS/FTD) my first instincts were to help others understand their status and where they could turn for help. I saw a vacuum for resources and understanding in the genetic ALS space and I knew that thousands were suffering in darkness.

Through the efforts of many, we created the first ever nonprofit – Genetic ALS & FTD: End the Legacy – focused on fighting for the genetic ALS and FTD communities. After making great strides to fight for our rights and access to care, I was asked if I could help my current CEO, Howard Berman, commercialize Dr. Stanley Appel’s regulatory T Cell (Treg) therapy for ALS.

I joined Coya Therapeutics in 2021 as the first employee, working to build a company that would one day bring life changing therapies to patients. Coya’s therapies are based on Dr. Appel’s discovery that neurodegenerative diseases drive an inflammatory response. As inflammation rises, it damages regulatory T cells, and when Tregs are damaged, inflammation becomes a persistent condition driving degeneration and eventually death.

It was at that point that my life changed from the advocacy world to the therapeutic world. Now over three years later, we are closer than ever to making a paradigm change for how patients with ALS and other neurodegenerative diseases are treated.

At Coya, we believe that combination biologics are the future of treating neurodegenerative diseases. COYA 302 is our lead asset, which has shown promising results in a proof-of-concept study released in March of 2023. We are currently working towards a double-blind, placebo-controlled trial for COYA 302 in ALS set to kick off later this year.

I never wanted to live a life so damned by disease, but when put between a rock and a hard place, the only choice is to fight. I don’t know how my life will end, but I hope that my children will know that I faced a great challenge head on with pride and resilience.

In the end, it is the combination of both the worlds I work in that lead to better outcomes for patients, raising awareness and lifesaving research. This ALS Awareness Month, please join us and our partners like the ALS Association, End the Legacy, and I AM ALS in raising awareness about these conditions, their risks, and treatment options.

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Daniel Barvin is the vice president of operations and patient advocacy at Coya Therapeutics.

Here's why more and more companies — across industries — are making the switch to sustainable technology. Photo via Getty Images

Houston expert on why companies across industries are investing in sustainable energy

guest column

In a modern business landscape characterized by increasing uncertainty and volatility, energy resilience has emerged as a cornerstone of strategic decision-making.

Let's delve deeper into why executives should view energy resilience as one of the best risk management investments they can make.

Mitigating risks and enhancing stability

Investing in energy resilience isn't solely about averting risks; it's about mitigating the potential losses that could arise from energy-related disruptions. It is estimated that half of today’s businesses lack an effective resilience strategy, even though nearly 97 percent of companies have been impacted by a critical risk event.

Whether it's power outages from extreme weather events, grid emergencies from a changing resource mix that is more weather dependent or cyber-attacks, disruptions can inflict substantial financial and reputational damage on businesses. By implementing resilient energy infrastructure and practices, organizations can minimize the impact of such disruptions, ensuring consistent operations even in the face of adversity. As an added benefit, these investments can also contribute to enhancing the stability of our grid infrastructure, benefiting not just individual businesses but the local community and the entire economy.

Improving costs and operational efficiency

Energy resilience also isn't just a defensive strategy; it's also about optimizing costs and operational efficiency to create competitive advantage. By investing in resilient energy infrastructure, such as backup power systems and microgrids, businesses can reduce the downtime associated with energy disruptions, thus avoiding revenue losses and operational inefficiencies.

Additionally, resilient energy solutions often lead to long-term cost savings through increased energy efficiency and reduced reliance on costly backup systems. As circumstances become increasingly uncertain, businesses that prioritize energy resilience can gain a competitive edge by operating more efficiently and cost-effectively than their counterparts.

Ensuring consistent operations amidst uncertainty

In today's rapidly changing business environment, characterized by geopolitical tensions, climate change, and technological advancements, uncertainty has become the new normal. Amidst this uncertainty, ensuring consistent operations is paramount for business continuity and long-term success. Investing in energy resilience provides businesses with the assurance that they can maintain operations even in the face of unforeseen challenges.

Whether it's a sudden power outage from a storm or the grid is stressed and unable to deliver reliable power, resilient energy infrastructure enables organizations to adapt swiftly and continue delivering products and services to customers without interruption.

Enhancing sustainability efforts

In recent years, a growing emphasis on sustainability and environmental stewardship has led to organizations recognizing the importance of reducing their carbon footprint and transitioning towards cleaner, renewable energy sources. Investing in energy resilience provides an opportunity to align sustainability efforts with business objectives.

By integrating renewable energy technologies and energy-efficient practices into their resilience strategies, organizations can not only enhance their environmental performance but also achieve long-term cost savings, ensure regulatory compliance, and build stakeholder trust.

The value of energy resilience for businesses

It is not enough to successfully handle day-to-day operations anymore; organizations need to be prepared for unpredictable events with a reliable energy supply and backup plan. Recently, a hospital in Texas had to evacuate patients and experienced heavy financial losses due to the failure of their traditional diesel generators during an extended outage.

After reevaluating their resiliency strategy, they decided to implement full-facility backup power using Enchanted Rock’s dual-purpose managed microgrid solution, which kept their power on during the next outage and ensured both patient safety and full operational capabilities. Investing in an energy resilience strategy like a microgrid will mitigate these risks and ensure always-on power in times of uncertainty.

A responsible decision for the greater good

Beyond the immediate benefits to individual businesses, investing in energy resilience is also a responsible decision for the greater good. As businesses become increasingly reliant on the grid infrastructure, ensuring its resilience is essential for the stability and reliability of the entire energy ecosystem. By proactively investing in resilient energy solutions, for themselves, businesses also contribute to strengthening the grid infrastructure, reducing the risk of widespread outages, and promoting the overall resilience of the energy system.

Executives must recognize the strategic imperative of investing in resilient energy infrastructure like microgrid systems, which can provide a competitive advantage against organizations that do not have similar measures in place. In doing so, they can navigate uncertainty with confidence, set their business up for future success, and emerge stronger and more resilient than ever before.

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Ken Cowan is the senior vice president of Enchanted Rock, a Houston-based provider of microgrid technology.

This article originally ran on EnergyCapital.
Here are some tips to help startups and small businesses break through to candidates who are content in their current position or afraid to jump to a smaller business in today’s market. Photo by Tima Miroshnichenko from Pexels

How Houston startups can hire top talent amid 'The Big Stay' trend of 2024

Guest column

Attracting “A-plus” talent when job candidates are favoring "The Big Stay” is a challenge for small businesses today. This is especially true when small businesses are competing with larger corporations for the same top talent.

To help startups and small businesses break through to candidates who are content in their current position or afraid to jump to a smaller business in today’s market, small businesses need to strategically position themselves as an attractive, viable alternative.

The following tips can help small businesses increase their appeal and attract top job candidates.

Employer branding

The employer brand or managing your reputation among job seekers and internal employees, plays a crucial part in attracting talent. Your internal workplace culture influences current employees and potential job candidates, but it also includes your digital presence. You want to ensure your digital footprint – website to social media – reflects your values, culture and successes. Your career page is a first impression for the job candidate. Including testimonials, day-in-the-life videos and clear job descriptions enhances the appeal of your organization.

Online reviews are another area that needs attention from an employer branding standpoint. Managing your reputation on review platforms like Glassdoor, Indeed and LinkedIn, exhibits how you address concerns and take any corrective action. It is also a barometer for many job candidates regarding employee satisfaction and potential areas for improvement.

Unique selling points

Your product or service has a unique selling point (USP) for customers and your company has a USP for talent. Small businesses usually trump larger corporations in flexibility and innovation. Small businesses can make quick decisions and employees can make a big impact on the company’s direction and success. When job candidates desire to make a substantial impact and have a more dynamic work environment, this is a definitive USP.

Learning and development programs that offer greater opportunity for leadership, cross-functional work and rapid advancement than your larger competitors can be appealing to top talent. Many high performers desire to move up the ranks and make a notable impact as quickly as possible, which is quickly attainable with startups and small businesses. The pathways to career advancement are many times less rigid in small business.

Compensation and benefits

Startups and small businesses usually cannot compete head-to-head with salaries, but there are a number of other ways to make your business more attractive to top talent. Starting off, you need to do your market research to ensure your compensation package is competitive, but other desirable benefits to consider include work-from-home or flex work options, health and wellness programs, financial wellness programs and robust retirement plans. Offering flexible benefits packages that can be tailored to meet the needs of employees at different life stages can be a considerable draw as well.

Candidate experience

When you are trying to recruit candidates who may be content with their current positions, it is important to make the application process as straightforward and clear as possible. This shows attention to detail, tells the candidate that you know what you want in an employee and it is respectful of their time. Once they apply, being responsive to their communication, establishing clear timelines and providing constructive feedback further elevates the candidate experience.

Referrals

Employees are your best recruiting tool. A personal referral speaks volumes since very few recommend candidates who would not fit the culture or the jobs available. Additionally, encouraging current employees to share their positive experiences with the company on social media can help cast a wider recruiting net.

Even though many employees are choosing to stay in their current roles, startups and small businesses can position themselves as attractive employers of choice. When you intentionally position yourself in an authentic manner, top-tier talent looking for career-growth opportunities, influence and meaningful work can be lured away from large competitors that may offer more traditional stability and name recognition.

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Jaune Little is a director of recruiting services with Insperity.

The opportunities to reach and empower underserved populations to participate in the health care workforce are limitless. Photo via Getty Images

Op-Ed: Removing barriers is critical for the future of Houston's health care workforce

guest column

Houston houses one of the most renowned medical communities in the world. However, Texas' current health care workforce shortage has severely impacted the city, with large swaths of the Gulf Coast Region deemed medically underserved. Thousands of Houstonians are impacted year after year due to the lack of access to life-saving medical care.

The obvious solution to this problem is to form a pipeline of health care workers by equipping students with the necessary skills and education to fill this gap. Sadly, many individuals who lack opportunity yet aspire to pursue a career in the health care industry face barriers related to childcare, transportation, mentorship gaps and life's unexpected circumstances.

Dwyer Workforce Development (DWD), a national health care training nonprofit, has recently expanded its footprint to Texas and has joined Houston Community College (HCC), one of the largest community colleges in the country, to provide life-changing support and create a pipeline of new health care workers, many who come from underserved areas.

Last year, our organizations launched the Dwyer Scholar Apprenticeship program, which is actively enrolling to combat the health care shortage and bring opportunities to those lacking. Working together, we are supporting apprentices each year to earn their Certified Nurse Aide (CNA) certificates, where students can choose a Phlebotomy or EKG specialization, helping our city meet the demand for one of the most essential and in-demand jobs in health care each year. Our program will help address Texas' loss of 36 percent of its CNAs over the past decade while providing gateways for highly motivated students—Dwyer Scholars—to thrive in long-term health care careers.

We know financial barriers prevent many potential health care workers from obtaining the certifications needed to enter the workforce. That's why we are bringing our innovative programs together, enabling Scholars to earn while they learn and opening doors for those who do not have the financial luxury of completing their training in a traditional educational atmosphere.

After enrollment, DWD continues to provide case management and additional financial support for pressures like housing, childcare, and transportation so Scholars don't have to put their work before their education. Scholars are placed with employers during the program, where they complete their apprenticeships and begin full-time employment following graduation.

The Texas Workforce Commission has identified apprenticeship programs as a key area for expansion to meet employer demand for skilled workers. Through our partnership, we are doing just that – and the model is proven. More than 85 percent of DWD Scholars in Maryland, where the program was established, have earned their certificates and are now employed or on track to begin their careers.

Our work doesn't end here. Over the next decade, Texas will face a shortage of 57,000 skilled nurses. Texas must continue to expand awareness and access to key workforce training programs to improve outcomes for diverse needs. Our organizations are working to vastly expand our reach, making the unattainable attainable and helping to improve the lives and health of our community.

No one's past or present should dictate their future. Everyone deserves access to health care, the ability to further their education and the chance to set and achieve life goals. The opportunities to reach and empower underserved populations to participate in the health care workforce are limitless.

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Barb Clapp is CEO of Dwyer Workforce Development, a nonprofit that supports individuals who aspire to pursue a career in the health care industry. Christina Robinson is the executive director for work-based learning and industry partnerships at Houston Community College.

Corporations can do more than just throw money at innovation efforts. Photo via Getty Images

How corporations can implement meaningful innovation, according to this Houston expert

guest column

I vividly remember, it was a typical Tuesday at Houston Exponential, and I’m sipping maybe my third coffee of the morning when the phone rings.

On the line is yet another hopeful voice from a newly minted innovation group at a "big company." They lay out their vision: “We’ve got this new innovation group! It’s me — a tech enthusiast who’s been yelling into the corporate void about needing to shake things up for the last two decades — plus a data scientist who loves numbers more than people, and a procurement guy who… well, procures stuff. And here’s the kicker: they’ve handed us $60 million to put to work. But here’s the catch — this treasure needs to be turned into a groundbreaking innovation that will dazzle the C-Suite, in about six months.”

I chuckle then sigh, because I’ve heard this story not once or twice, but about a dozen times over. And unfortunately, each of those grand plans crashed faster than a shooting star burning out over the Texas night sky — brilliant, swift, and leaving us wondering what might have been. Why? Well, let’s dig into some observations from my time working with institutional innovators from around the world and uncover just why throwing money at innovation like confetti at a wedding isn’t the quick fix big companies hope it will be.

The big miss here is a deep understanding of and ability to articulate the challenges. Innovation isn’t a highway where you can just press the gas and speed straight to Mt. Scale. It’s more like a winding country road with breathtaking views, unexpected potholes, and the occasional bewildered chicken crossing your path. For institutional innovators — the brave souls charting the course through this ever-changing landscape — the journey is filled with excitement, challenges, and the promise of discovery.

In my first hand experience mentoring over 500 startups and corporations, I’ve seen that the magic of innovation doesn’t come from a deep-pocketed budget but from a deep understanding of the problems we aim to solve. If you can view challenges through a kaleidoscope of perspectives, not just through the monochrome lens of one industry, you find the alternate routes that, while not exactly shortcuts, do keep you from turning down dark alleys and dead ends. A key observation here is that solutions to hard problems often lie in adjacent industries.

For example, consider how biomimicry has led to inventions like Velcro, inspired by burrs' ability to stick to animal fur, or how bullet trains in Japan were designed to mimic the kingfisher's beak for better aerodynamics. These are just a few examples of how solutions to complex problems often reside right in front of us or in the industry next door. Right here in Houston, Pumps & Pipes is a glowing example of how experts from Energy, Life Science and Space converge on similar problem sets with wildly different perspectives and applications.

Imagine if the engineers at NASA sat down for tacos with teachers from the local high school, or if doctors brainstormed with video game designers over a game of pickleball. Sounds fun, right? But it’s also where the magic happens. When we step out of our industry bubbles, we find that the solutions to our biggest problems often come from the most unexpected places.

So how do we begin to find these solutions? It all starts with a clear and clearly articulated challenge statement.

A crucial factor in encouraging organizations to look beyond traditional industry boundaries is to foster a deep understanding of problem-solution fit (you can read more about Problem - Solution fit in my last article here) and that means a deep understanding of the Problem. By guiding problem holders to dig deep into the nuances of the problems they aim to address, we expand their perspective. Once a comprehensive grasp of the problems are established, new pathways for solutions organically emerge. To do this you must broaden the collective thinking to the point where solutions from other industries become not just viable but often the most effective approach. My favorite quote on this subject is that “people don’t need a ¼ inch drill bit, they need a ¼ inch hole, and really they don’t need a ¼ hole, they need to hang a picture and when framed in that context, a command strip is more effective at solving the problem.”

So how do we do this? It’s easy, just continuously ask "why" or “why does this matter to your customer” to peel back the layers of the initial problem statements to reveal underlying causes or first principles. Ok this is actually much harder than it sounds but when organizations are guided through exercises to distill their challenges into first principles and more universal problem statements, a transformation occurs, resulting in several benefits:

  1. Expanding Solution Horizons: By elevating the problem discussion beyond industry-specific issues, the range of potential solutions widens remarkably.
  2. Universal Problem Statements: Restating the issues into more universal terms unlocks innovative approaches and solutions previously unseen.
  3. Enhanced Solution Fit and Success Probability: This reframing leads to solutions that are not only more fitting but also stand a higher chance of successfully being adopted and integrated and thus resolving the underlying issues.
  4. Increased Buy-In: These solutions are and are perceived as more novel and thus receive increased buy-in across the organization when moving towards adoption.

The critical lesson here is the power of abstracting the problem. By pulling back from the immediate and specific issues and reinterpreting them into broader, more universally applicable challenges, we can tap into a richer vein of solutions. This approach not only broadens the scope of potential innovations but also increases the alignment and effectiveness of the solutions we pursue.

The art of crafting challenge statements that are both broad enough to inspire innovative thinking and specific enough to be actionable is crucial. These statements serve as beacons, guiding both internal and external innovation efforts towards solutions that are not bound by conventional industry norms. By framing challenges in a way that invites diverse perspectives, organizations unlock innovative solutions that transcend traditional boundaries, fostering a more expansive and inclusive approach to problem-solving.

Turning lofty ambitions into tangible results begins with understanding that innovation isn’t just about flashy gadgets or the latest buzzwords. It’s about solving real problems for real people. This means rolling up our sleeves, listening intently, and sometimes realizing that the solution isn’t a high-tech wonder but perhaps something as simple and elegant as a command strip instead of a hole in the wall.

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Jon Nordby is managing partner at Anthropy Partners, a Houston-based investment firm, and professor of entrepreneurship at the University of Houston.

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Crew of NASA's earthbound simulated Mars habitat emerge in Houston after a year

mission accomplished

The crew of a NASA mission to Mars emerged from their craft after a yearlong voyage that never left Earth.

The four volunteer crew members spent more than 12 months inside NASA's first simulated Mars environment at Johnson Space Center in Houston, coming out of the artificial alien enviroment Saturday around 5 p.m.

Kelly Haston, Anca Selariu, Ross Brockwell and Nathan Jones entered the 3D-printed habitat on June 25, 2023, as the maiden crew of the space agency's Crew Health and Performance Exploration Analog project.

Haston, the mission commander, began with a simple, “Hello.”

“It’s actually just so wonderful to be able to say ‘hello’ to you all,” she said.

Jones, a physician and the mission medical officer, said their 378 days in confinement “went by quickly.”

The quartet lived and worked inside the space of 1,700 square feet (157 square meters) to simulate a mission to the red planet, the fourth from the sun and a frequent focus of discussion among scientists and sci-fi fans alike concerning a possible voyage taking humans beyond our moon.

The first CHAPEA crew focused on establishing possible conditions for future Mars operations through simulated spacewalks, dubbed “Marswalks,” as well as growing and harvesting vegetables to supplement their provisions and maintaining the habitat and their equipment.

They also worked through challenges a real Mars crew would be expected to experience including limited resources, isolation and delays in communication of up to 22 minutes with their home planet on the other side of the habitat's walls, NASA said.

Two additional CHAPEA missions are planned and crews will continue conducting simulated spacewalks and gathering data on factors related to physical and behavioral health and performance, NASA said.

Steve Koerner, deputy director of Johnson Space Center, said most of the first crew's experimentation focused on nutrition and how that affected their performance. The work was “crucial science as we prepare to send people on to the red planet,” he said.

“They've been separated from their families, placed on a carefully prescribed meal plan and undergone a lot of observation,” Koerner said.

“Mars is our goal,” he said, calling the project an important step in America's intent to be a leader in the global space exploration effort.

Emerging after a knock on the habitat's door by Kjell Lindgren, an astronaut and the deputy director of flight operations, the four volunteers spoke of the gratitude they had for each other and those who waited patiently outside, as well as lessons learned about a prospective manned mission to Mars and life on Earth.

Brockwell, the crew's flight engineer, said the mission showed him the importance of living sustainably for the benefit of everyone on Earth.

“I’m very grateful to have had this incredible opportunity to live for a year within the spirit of planetary adventure towards an exciting future, and I’m grateful for the chance to live the idea that we must utilise resources no faster than they can be replenished and produce waste no faster than they can be processed back into resources," Brockwell said.

“We cannot live, dream, create or explore on any significant timeframe if we don’t live these principles, but if we do, we can achieve and sustain amazing and inspiring things like exploring other worlds," he said.

Science officer Anca Selariu said she had been asked many times why there is a fixation on Mars.

“Why go to Mars? Because it’s possible,” she said. "Because space can unite and bring out the best in us. Because it’s one defining step that ‘Earthlings’ will take to light the way into the next centuries.”

Life-saving vaccine developed at University of Houston heads to human clinical trials

green light

Fentanyl kills nearly 200 Americans each day, but Houston researchers have developed a vaccine to prevent users from succumbing to an overdose.

Last week, a New York-based startup, OVAX Incorporated, announced that it has licensed that intellectual property and $10 million to commercialize that research.

The discovery of the vaccine comes out of the University of Houston lab of Colin Haile, a research associate professor of psychology at UH and the Texas Institute for Measurement, Evaluation and Statistics (TIMES), as well as a founding member of the UH Drug Discovery Institute. The vaccine will be marketed under the name Fentanyl Armour.

“We believe Fentanyl Armour could have a significant impact on a very serious problem plaguing society for years – opioid misuse,” says Haile, who serves as scientific co-founder and adviser at OVAX, in a press release.

Human trials are set to start as soon as the beginning of 2025.

“This breakthrough discovery could have major implications for the nation’s opioid epidemic by becoming a relapse prevention agent for people trying to quit using opioids,” adds Haile.

In fact, 80 percent of patients with opioid use disorder (OUD) will eventually relapse. Fentanyl Armour could become a landmark addition to our country’s fight against addiction.

Houston triumphs in new list of America's top 10 best cities

new report

Houston is earning high praise for its prosperity, lovability, and livability in a prestigious new report by Canada-based real estate and tourism marketing advisors Resonance Consultancy.

The annual "America's Best Cities" report ranks the relative qualities of place, cultural diversity, and economic prosperity for America's principal cities with metropolitan populations of 500,000 or more. These top 100 cities are "the engines of their regional and national economies and, importantly, the global economy," according to the report.

Houston ranked No. 10 on the list, with New York City (No. 1), Chicago (No. 2), and Los Angeles (No. 3) claiming the coveted top three spots.

Resonance refers to its 2023 report of the "World's Best Cities" when describing Houston's achievements, specifically reiterating how the city appears as an underdog among Texas' major cities, specifically Austin.

"Austin may get the attention, but the promise of the Lone Star State drawing Californians and New Yorkers is quietly being fulfilled in Houston," the report restated.

Houston's reputation as Space City, combined with its vibrant culture (driven by major events like the WorldFest-Houston International Film Festival and the various Juneteenth celebrations) are two standout qualities in the report.

Of course, you can't forget about Houston's strong economic ties with the oil and gas industry, where over a dozen major employers were recently listed among the best companies to work for by U.S. News and World Report.

"While hometown companies like ConocoPhillips, ExxonMobil andPhillips 66 have ensured that 40 percent of Houston’s economy is tied directly or indirectly to oil and gas, the energy talent in the city has made it an unlikely green power destination," the report said. "According to a recent McKinsey report, investment of up to $250 billion may be headed Houston’s way by 2040 to leverage the skilled workforce and existing infrastructure."

Moreover, Houston's dining scene ranked No. 4 in the report's restaurants subcategory, above renowned foodie cities like San Fransisco, Las Vegas, and Miami. Resonance described the city's "underappreciated" culinary field as a three-way amalgamation of "Southern Soul," barbecue, and Mexican influences "that's then seasoned with global cuisine."

For locals and Newstonians looking for restaurant recommendations, the report gives only one: The newly opened Late August, in Midtown, whose talented executive chef Sergio Hidalgo and sommelier/general manager Danny Davis mix "southern Mexican cuisine with West African magic."

Elsewhere in Texas, Austin (No. 15) and Dallas (No. 16) ranked among the top 20 best U.S. cities, with San Antonio coming in at No. 32 nationally. Landing outside the top 50 in the report were El Paso (No. 83) and McAllen (No. 88).

The top 10 best American cities, according to Resonance Consultancy, are:

  • No. 1 – New York, New York
  • No. 2 – Chicago, Illinois
  • No. 3 – Los Angeles, California
  • No. 4 – Miami, Florida
  • No. 5 – Las Vegas, Nevada
  • No. 6 – San Francisco, California
  • No. 7 – Boston, Massachusetts
  • No. 8 – Washington, D.C.
  • No. 9 – Seattle, Washington
  • No. 10 – Houston, Texas

The full list of cities and the report's methodology can be found on worldsbestcities.com.

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This article originally ran on CultureMap.