Houstonians get to keep a good bit of cash in their pockets. Photo by Jacob Power

A new study indicates it's worth it to live and work in Houston. The study, done by BusinessStudent.com, puts Houston among the country's 25 most affordable places to live and work for 2019.

Four other Texas cities appear ahead of Houston in the report: Fort Worth (No. 7), College Station (No. 18), Irving (No. 21), and Dallas (No. 22). Noticeably absent from the top 25 are Austin and San Antonio.

"Making a high salary is great," BusinessStudent.com points out, "but if rents are so high that you have very little disposable income left over, are you going to be able to put money away for a rainy day?"

"Obviously," the website adds, "a person's individual cultural and social tastes should also be considered, but from a purely financial standpoint, it would be wise to consult this list ... before you begin your next job or home search."

To come up with its list, BusinessStudent.com examined salaries for 100 business-related jobs on Indeed.com and compared them with the average rent of a two-bedroom apartment listed on Rentjungle.com. In the top three positions on BusinessStudent.com's affordability list are Tulsa, Oklahoma; Lexington, Kentucky; and Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.

The study found that in Houston, residents had 79 percent of their salary left after paying rent. That's based on an average annual salary of $79,579 and average monthly rent of $1,401.

Fort Worth residents have it the best in Texas, with 82 percent of their salary left after housing costs, with an average annual salary of $75,797 and rent of $1,108. In College Station, 80 percent of the average salary ($55,086) remained after paying rent ($906 a month).

In Irving, 79 percent of the average annual salary ($77,527) was left after paying rent ($1,327 a month). Dallas had the same share of salary remaining after paying rent (79 percent), but the average salary ($82,609) and average rent ($1,422) were considerably higher than Fort Worth or Irving — and slightly higher than Houston.

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This story originally appeared on CultureMap.

The study examined used the average annual salary for white-collar "business" jobs in Houston. Photo by Zview/Getty Images

Salaries stretch further in Houston than most metros

Bayou city banks

It truly pays to live and work in Houston. A new ranking from BusinessStudent.com puts the Bayou City — and Dallas and Fort Worth, too — among the top 10 places in the U.S. for stretching your salary.

To come up with its ranking, BusinessStudent.com examined the average annual salary for 127 white-collar "business" jobs listed on career website Indeed — such as HR director, marketing manager, and IT manager — and subtracted the average rent for a two-bedroom apartment, based on data from apartment search website Rent Jungle. According to that measure, Houston is No. 7. Dallas is tops in the Lone Star State at No. 4, while Fort Worth is No. 9.

In all, BusinessStudent.com sifted through data for 65 major U.S. markets.

"When deciding where to work and live, it is critical to look at more than just what salary you can make," BusinessStudent.com says. "Because if rents are sky high, you may net out at zero, or even worse with mounting credit card debt."

The BusinessStudent.com study calculated an average yearly salary of $79,579 in Houston and an average monthly rent of $1,401 for a two-bedroom apartment. The difference: $62,767.

BusinessStudent.com also computed an average yearly salary of $82,609 in Dallas and average monthly rent of $1,422 for a two-bedroom apartment. That resulted in a difference of $65,545, behind Palo Alto and San Jose, both in Northern California, and Detroit.

In Houston, at least, all types of workers are benefiting from stable rent growth. According to apartment search website Apartment List, the growth of rent for a two-bedroom apartment in Houston has gone up 3.6 percent over the past year, 0.8 percent in Austin, 0.4 percent in San Antonio, flat in Dallas, and 1.8 percent statewide.

For Fort Worth, the average yearly salary for a white-collar job added up to $75,797, according to BusinessStudent.com, with average monthly rent of $1,108 for a two-bedroom apartment. That left a gap of $62,501.

Aside from Houston, Dallas, and Fort Worth, Irving (No. 12) and Plano (No. 19) showed up in BusinessStudent.com's top 25.

In Irving, BusinessStudent.com discovered the average yearly salary was $77,527, with average monthly rent of $1,327 for a two-bedroom apartment. The difference was $61,603.

Plano had an average yearly salary of $75,988, with average monthly rent of $1,350 for a two-bedroom apartment. The gap: $59,788.

At the other end of the spectrum, College Station ranked No. 1 in the country for the lowest after-rent salary. There, the average yearly salary for a white-collar job was calculated at $55,086, with average monthly rent of $906 for a two-bedroom apartment. The leftover amount: $44,214.

San Antonio was the only other Texas city in the bottom 25. In the Alamo City, the average yearly salary was computed as $67,195, with average monthly rent of $1,195 for a two-bedroom apartment. The difference: $52,855. That put San Antonio at No. 12 among the bottom 25.

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This story originally appeared on CultureMap.

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Houston family's $20M donation drives neurodegeneration research

big impact

Neurodegeneration is one of the cruelest ways to age, but one Houston family is sharing its wealth to invigorate research with the goal of eradicating diseases like Alzheimer’s.

This month, Laurence Belfer announced that his family, led by oil tycoon Robert Belfer, had donated an additional $20 million to the Belfer Neurodegeneration Consortium, a multi-institutional initiative that targets the study and treatment of Alzheimer’s disease.

This latest sum brings the family’s donations to BNDC to $53.5 million over a little more than a decade. The Belfer family’s recent donation will be matched by institutional philanthropic efforts, meaning BNDC will actually be $40 million richer.

BNDC was formed in 2012 to help scientists gain stronger awareness of neurodegenerative disease biology and its potential treatments. It incorporates not only The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, but also Baylor College of Medicine, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai.

It is the BNDC’s lofty objective to develop five new drugs for Alzheimer’s disease and related disorders over the next 10 years, with two treatments to demonstrate clinical efficacy.

“Our goal is ambitious, but having access to the vast clinical trial expertise at MD Anderson ensures our therapeutics can improve the lives of patients everywhere,” BNDC Executive Director Jim Ray says in a press release. “The key elements for success are in place: a powerful research model, a winning collaborative team and a robust translational pipeline, all in the right place at the right time.”

It may seem out of place that this research is happening at MD Anderson, but scientists are delving into the intersection between cancer and neurological disease through the hospital’s Cancer Neuroscience Program.

“Since the consortium was formed, we have made tremendous progress in our understanding of the molecular and genetic basis of neurodegenerative diseases and in translating those findings into effective targeted drugs and diagnostics for patients,” Ray continues. “Yet, we still have more work to do. Alzheimer's disease is already the most expensive disease in the United States. As our population continues to age, addressing quality-of-life issues and other challenges of treating and living with age-associated diseases must become a priority.”

And for the magnanimous Belfer family, it already is.

3 Houston innovators to know this week

who's who

Editor's note: Every week, I introduce you to a handful of Houston innovators to know recently making headlines with news of innovative technology, investment activity, and more. This week's batch includes a podcast with the founder of a new venture firm, a former astronaut and recent award recipient, and a health care innovator with fresh funding.

Zach Ellis, founder and managing partner of South Loop Ventures

Zach Ellis explains on the Houston Innovators Podcast that South Loop Ventures plans to invest in promising companies from across the country and bring them into Houston's ecosystem to grow and scale. Photo via LinkedIn

Houston has a lot of the right ingredients for commercialization and scaling up companies, so when Zach Ellis moved to town to stand up a venture capital firm that made investments in diverse founders, he decided to go about it in an innovative way.

South Loop Ventures, which Ellis launched two years ago, invests in pre-seed and seed-stage startups across health care, climatetech, aerospace, sports, and fintech. While the first handful of investments, which have already been made, are into Houston-based companies, Ellis explains on the Houston Innovators Podcast that the firm plans to invest in promising companies from across the country and bring them into Houston's ecosystem to grow and scale.

"Any investor wants to feel like they are looking at the best possible investment opportunities in which to deploy capital," Ellis says on the show. "So that's reason No. 1 to cast your net as widely as possible.

"At the same time, you want to give any investment that you make greatest chances of success," he continues. "The biggest factor of success outside of the team and the capital you give them, is the customers that they can call upon. In bringing targeted companies to Houston or connecting them with Houston, you introduce the opportunity for them to achieve rapid scale and work with world-class partners very efficiently." Read more.


Toby R. Hamilton, founder and CEO of Hamilton Health Box

Dr. Toby Hamilton has secured $10 million to grow his company. Photo via tmc.edu

A Houston company that is working on a value-based model for primary care has fresh funding to support its mission.

Hamilton Health Box announced the completion of a $10 million series A funding round led by 1588 Ventures with participation from Memorial Hermann Health System, Impact Ventures by Johnson & Johnson Foundation, Texas Medical Center Venture Fund, and the Sullivan Brothers.

The company, founded in 2019 by Dr. Toby R. Hamilton, will use the funding to fuel its expansion into rural areas to help assist those living in Health Professional Shortage Areas, or HPSAs. Read more.

Ellen Ochoa, former astronaut and center director at the NASA's Johnson Space Center

Ellen Ochoa was recognized for her leadership at NASA Johnson and for being the first Hispanic woman in space. Photo via NASA

Two astronauts recently received Presidential Medals of Freedom from President Joe Biden for their leadership in space.

Ellen Ochoa, the former center director and astronaut at the NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston, and Jane Rigby, senior project scientist for NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope, were honored at the White House on May 3.

Ochoa spent 30 years with NASA, which included being the 11th director of JSC, deputy center director of JSC, and director of Flight Crew Operations. She served on the nine-day STS-56 mission aboard the space shuttle Discovery in 1993, and became the first Hispanic woman in space. She flew four more times to space with STS-66, STS-96, STS-110, and more.

“I’m so grateful for all my amazing NASA colleagues who shared my career journey with me,” Ochoa says in a NASA news release. Read more.

Houston health care institutions receive $22M to attract top recruits

coming to Hou

Houston’s Baylor College of Medicine has received a total of $12 million in grants from the Cancer Prevention & Research Institute of Texas to attract two prominent researchers.

The two grants, which are $6 million each, are earmarked for recruitment of Thomas Milner and Radek Skoda. The Cancer Prevention & Research Institute of Texas (CPRIT) announced the grants May 14.

Milner, an expert in photomedicine for surgery and diagnostics, is a professor of surgery and biomedical engineering at the Beckman Laser Institute & Medical Clinic at the University of California, Irvine and the university’s Chao Family Comprehensive Cancer Center

In 2013, Milner was named Inventor of the Year by the University of Texas at Austin. At the time, he was a professor of biomedical engineering at UT. One of his major achievements is co-development of the MasSpec Pen, a handheld device that identifies cancerous tissue within 10 seconds during surgical procedures.

Skoda is a professor of molecular medicine in the Department of Biomedicine at the University of Basel and the University Hospital Basel, both in Switzerland. He specializes in developing treatments for myeloproliferative neoplasms, which are a group of blood diseases including leukemia.

Other recruitment grants provided by the institute to Houston-area organizations are:

  • $4 million for recruitment of Susan Bullman to the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center. She was an assistant professor at Seattle’s Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center, where she studied the connection between microbes and cancer.
  • $4 million for recruitment of Oren Rom to the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center. Rom is an assistant professor of pathology and translational pathobiology at Louisiana State University Shreveport.
  • Nearly $2 million for recruitment of Lauren Hagler to conduct RNA cancer biology at Texas A&M University. She is a postdoctoral scholar in biochemistry at Stanford University.

The institute also awarded grants to five companies in the Houston area:

  • $4.7 million to 7 Hills Pharma for development of immunotherapies to treat cancer and prevent infectious diseases.
  • $4.5 million to Indapta Therapeutics for the Phase 1 trial of a cell therapy for treatment of multiple myeloma and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
  • $2.75 million to Bectas Therapeutics for development of antibodies and biomarkers to overcome a type of resistance T-cell checkpoint therapy.
  • $2.69 million to MS Pen Technologies for development of technology that differentiates between normal tissue and cancerous tissue during surgery.
  • $2.58 million to Crossbridge Bio for development of an antibody-drug combination to treat certain solid tumors.