Here are the eight companies currently being accelerated by Texas Medical Center Innovation. Photo courtesy of TMC

The Texas Medical Center Innovation has named its new cohort of health tech companies it's currently accelerating.

This first batch of companies for 2024 was selected from last fall's TMC Bootcamp. Eight of the 10 startups from the bootcamp have moved on to the Accelerator for HealthTech.

"Hailing from diverse corners of the globe—from the tech corridors of Texas and California to Ireland and Australia—these companies converge with a shared mission—to move healthcare forward," Devin Dunn, head of the Accelerator for Health Tech, writes in a TMC blog post. "Through personalized mentorship and guidance, these eight companies are able to navigate complex challenges and refine their strategies, while leveraging the expertise of Texas Medical Center ecosystem to validate their innovations and drive real-world impact."

The selected companies include:

  • AcorAI, from Stockholm, Sweden, which is developing a first-of-its-kind, hand-held, scalable medical device for non-invasive intracardiac pressure monitoring to improve heart failure management for more than 64 million patients worldwide.
  • AirSeal, based in St. Louis, Missouri, which has developed a novel serum-based biomarker technology – circulating fatty acid synthase (cFAS) – that can diagnose cardiovascular and peripheral artery disease with high accuracy in both women and men.
  • Foxo, headquartered in Brisbane, Australia, serves as an interoperable tool designed to enhance clinical collaboration across the healthcare ecosystem. It enables secure, two-way communication with features such as video, voice, screen share, file sharing, and real-time messaging.
  • San Francisco-based Knowtex, an artificial intelligence-powered software writes medical documentation for you and assigns correct codes to ensure proper reimbursement.
  • NeuroBell, from Cork, Ireland, which is working on a novel medical device providing portable EEG monitoring with real-time and automated neonatal seizure alerts at the bedside.
  • Perth, Australia-based OncoRes Medical that's developing an intraoperative imaging technology to provide surgeons with real-time assessment of tissue microstructure.
  • From right here in Houston, Steradian Technologies, which has created RUMI, the first noninvasive, fully portable infectious disease diagnostic that costs the price of a latte. It uses novel photon-based detection to collect and diagnose infectious diseases in breath within 30 seconds.
  • TYBR, also based in Houston, created a flowable extracellular matrix hydrogel, crafted to safeguard healing tendons and ligaments from scarring and adhesions. The company originated from the TMCi’s Biodesign fellowship and now has entered into the Accelerator for HealthTech to sharpen its regulatory strategy, particularly in anticipation of FDA conversations.

Applications for the next Accelerator for HealthTech will open in May of this year.

Houston-based Steradian Technologies founder Asma Mirza took home third place at the annual awards. Photo by Natalie Harms/InnovationMap

Houston female-focused health tech pitch competition names top 3 startup founders

A female-focused pitch competition named its top health tech startups for the fifth year running.

Ignite Healthcare Network, a Houston nonprofit founded on the mission of supporting women in health care, hosted its annual Fire Pitch Competition on November 9 at the Ion, crowning the award recipients and doling out cash prizes.

This year, Ignite accelerated 19 female health tech founders through its program that connects entrepreneurs with mentors and industry professionals. The program concludes with a select number of finalists presenting at the Fire Pitch event.

This year, eight finalists presented at the competition for judges and an audience:

  • Suchismita Acharya, CEO of Fort Worth-based AyuVis, an immunotherapy platform that's developing treatments and prevention for inflammatory and infectious diseases, specifically of the lung, kidney, skin, eye, and sepsis.
  • Piyush Modak, co-founder, vice president of research and development of New Jersey-based EndoMedix, a technology platform developing engineered biosurgery devices that address clinical needs. The first device based on this platform is PlexiClotTM Absorbable Hemostat for brain and spinal surgery.
  • Somer Baburek, co-founder and CEO of San Antonio-based HERAbiotech, which is developing a non-surgical, molecular diagnostic test for endometriosis.
  • Melissa Bowley, founder of Flourish Care, a B2B health services platform and network addressing maternal health disparities and improve outcomes. The Boston company works with health systems and insurance companies..
  • Patty Lee, co-founder and CEO of Orbit Health, a Munich-based company that uses AI and sensor technologies to develop digital health solutions for the management of Parkinson's.
  • Tawny Hammett, chief revenue officer of New York-based Paloma Health, a patient-focused technology providing holistic approach to thyroid care all from the comfort of home.
  • Meghan Doyle, CEO and co-founder of Chicago-based Partum Health, a company focused on combining specialty reproductive care, including mental health, lactation, nutrition, physical therapy, birth doula support, and more.
  • Asma Mirza, CEO and co-founder of Houston-based Steradian Technologies, creator of the RUMI, a medical device that's providing diagnostic accessibility.

Ayse McCracken, founder and board chair of Ignite, and her partners presented several prizes and awards, including naming the winners — EndoMedix won first place, Hera Biotech secured second place, and Steradian Technologies was awarded third place.

In addition to naming the three top companies, the following prizes were doled out:

  • Memorial Hermann presented AyuVis with a certificate indicating interest in a potential partnership.
  • Golden Seeds awarded a $1,000 cash prize and three hours of mentoring to Steradian Technologies.
  • Texas Children's Hospital presented Flourish Care with a certificate indicating interest in a potential partnership.
  • Southwest-Midwest National Pediatric Device Innovation Consortium awarded Hera Biotech with $20,000.
  • Houston Methodist awarded each of the three top companies with mentorship from innovation leadership.
  • JLabs presented EndoMedix with a one-year virtual residency.
  • Donna Peters, founder of The Me Suite and mentor for Ignite, presented Hera Biotech with three coaching sessions.

Last year, Joanna Nathan, CEO of Houston-based Prana Thoracic, won the top award for her company. The company went on to raise a $3 million seed round.

Earlier this year, McCracken sat down with InnovationMap to share how she's grown the program over the past five years — and why she's so passionate about what she does.

"Having an impact in the health care industry and finding solutions is important to me," McCracken says on an episode of the Houston Innovators Podcast. "The second aspect of that is there are so many women in health care, and yet you don't see them in leadership roles."

Meet the latest global health tech startups to get an invite to Houston from TMC Innovation. Photo via tmc.edu

TMC names latest cohort of health tech startups for upcoming bootcamp

headed to Houston

The Texas Medical Center's innovation arm has again invited a set of health tech startups to mix and mingle with potential partners, investors, and customers in hopes to score a place in the HealthTech Accelerator.

For the 17th time, the TMC Innovation Factory is hosting its HealthTech Accelerator — starting first with announcing its bootcamp cohort, a process that includes bringing all 10 companies to Houston for valuable networking. A selection of the bootcamp will be invited into the full accelerator that will run into next spring.

The 10 selected companies with solutions from heart failure to chronic respiratory disease and more, according to TMC, include:

  • Acorai, from Stockholm, Sweden, which is developing a first-of-its-kind, hand-held, scalable medical device for non-invasive intracardiac pressure monitoring to improve heart failure management for more than 64 million patients worldwide.
  • Singapore-based Aevice Health, a connected care platform powered by the world’s smallest smart wearable stethoscope to support chronic respiratory disease patients through their continuum of care.
  • AirSeal, based in St. Louis, Missouri, which has developed a novel serum-based biomarker technology – circulating fatty acid synthase (cFAS) – that can diagnose cardiovascular and peripheral artery disease with high accuracy in both women and men.
  • Candlelit Care, a Charlotte, North Carolina-based point-of-care digital platform focused on the prevention of perinatal mental and anxiety disorders (PMADs) among Black women and birthing parents.
  • San Francisco-based Knowtex, an artificial intelligence-powered software writes medical documentation for you and assigns correct codes to ensure proper reimbursement.
  • NeuroBell, from Cork, Ireland, which is working on a novel medical device providing portable EEG monitoring with real-time and automated neonatal seizure alerts at the bedside.
  • Perth, Australia-based OncoRes Medical that's developing an intraoperative imaging technology to provide surgeons with real-time assessment of tissue microstructure.
  • From right here in Houston, Steradian Technologies, which has created RUMI, the first noninvasive, fully portable infectious disease diagnostic that costs the price of a latte. It uses novel photon-based detection to collect and diagnose infectious diseases in breath within 30 seconds.
  • Foxo, headquartered in Brisbane, Australia, serves as an interoperable tool designed to enhance clinical collaboration across the healthcare ecosystem. It enables secure, two-way communication with features such as video, voice, screen share, file sharing, and real-time messaging.
  • Thrive Health’s, from Vancouver, Canada, is a platform is a low-code framework for designing and delivering patient engagement solutions. Create tools that enable partners to close healthcare gaps quickly, strengthen care relationships, and improve patient experience and outcomes.

TMC Innovation's last bootcamp cohort was announced in May. The organization also recently named 16 digital health and medical device startups from the United Kingdom to a new accelerator formed in partnership with Innovate UK.

Earlier this fall, TMC formed a strategic partnership, or BioBridge, with the Netherlands.

Meet the female health tech founders being accelerated by Ignite Healthcare this year. Photo courtesy of Ignite

Houston health tech accelerator names annual cohort ahead of its pitch competition

female founders

Last month, a Houston organization dedicated to supporting female founders in health care kicked off its 2023 accelerator with cohort participants from across the country.

Ignite Healthcare Network, based in Houston, is a nonprofit founded on the mission of supporting women in health care. Ignite established its 12-week accelerator program to help advance and connect female health tech founders with mentors and potential clients as their startups scale.

"We have 19 founders doing great work, and we have them matched with three to four advisors helping to mentor them," Ayse McCracken, founder and board chair of Ignite tells InnovationMap. "We also have a virtual learning program, which is new this year, and we have two sessions of those a week."

The programming is curated to tackle the health tech industry's biggest topics and provide advice for a small group of engaged startups, McCracken explains. In its fifth year now, the program has a large group of partners that are involved.

"We've had 91 companies come through our program in the last fours years," McCracken says. "They've raised over $550 million."

The cohort concludes on November 9 with the Fire Pitch Competition at the Ion, where a handful of finalists — selected by Ignite's team of mentors — will present to win the top award.

This year's cohort includes:

  • Somer Baburek, CEO and co-founder of Hera Biotech
  • Sue Carr, president and founder of CarrTech Corp
  • Suchismita Acharya, CEO, chief strategy officer, and co-founder of AyuVis
  • Asma Mirza, CEO and founder of Steradian Technologies
  • J’Vanay Santos, CEO and founder of MyLÚA Health
  • Maureen Brown, CEO and co-founder of Mosie Baby
  • Elizabeth Friedman, president and founder of Safen Medical Products
  • Meghan Doyle, CEO and co-founder of Partum Health
  • Marina Tarasova, COO and co-founder of Paloma Health
  • Melissa Bowley, CEO and founder of Flourish Care
  • Molly Hegarty, CEO and founder of Junum
  • Patty Lee, CEO and co-founder of Orbit Health
  • Piyush Modak, Vice President of R&D and co-founder of EndoMedix
  • Debbie Chen, CEO and founder of Hydrostasis
  • Rachael Grimaldi, CEO and co-founder of CardMedic
  • Rachna Dhamija, CEO of Ejenta
  • Carolyn Treviño Jenkins, CEO and co-founder of We Are Here
  • Lyn Markey, CEO and co-founder of XTremedy
  • Camille O’Malley, CTO and co-founder of XTremedy
Last year, Joanna Nathan, CEO of Houston-based Prana Thoracic, won the top award for her company.
Innovative shoewear, luxury EV charging, and more — all this innovation and more is coming out of Houston startups. Courtesy photos

Top 5 Houston startup feature stories of 2022

year in review

Editor's note: As 2022 comes to a close, InnovationMap is looking back at the year's top stories in Houston innovation. This past year, InnovationMap featured profiles on dozens of these Houston startups — from sportstech apps and health tech companies to startups with solutions in EV tech and more. Here are five Houston startup features that stood out to readers this year — be sure to click through to read the full story.

Houston-based health tech startup is revolutionizing patient selection for clinical trials

Sieve Health is an AI cloud-based SaaS platform designed to automate and accelerate matching patients with clinical trials. Photo via Getty Images

On many occasions in her early career, Dr. Arti Bhosale, co-founder and CEO of Sieve Health, found herself frustrated with having to manually sift through thousands of digital files.

The documents, each containing the medical records of a patient seeking advanced treatment through a clinical trial, were always there to review — and there were always more to read.

Despite the tediousness of prescreening, which could take years, the idea of missing a patient and not giving them the opportunity to go through a potentially life-altering trial is what kept her going. The one she didn’t read could have slipped through the cracks and potentially not given someone care they needed.

“Those stories have stayed with me,” she says. “That’s why we developed Sieve.” Read more.

Houston startup snags prestigious grant from global health leader

Houston-based medical device and biotech startup Steradian Technologies has been recognized by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Photo by Dwight C. Andrews/Greater Houston Convention and Visitors Bureau

A female-founded biotech startup has announced that it has received a grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Steradian Technologies has developed a breath-based collection device that can be used with diagnostic testing systems. Called RUMI, the device is non-invasive and fully portable and, according to a news release, costs the price of a latte.

“We are extremely honored to receive this award and be recognized by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, a leader in global health. This funding will propel our work in creating deep-tech diagnostics and products to close the equity gap in global public health," says Asma Mirza, CEO and co-founder of Steradian Technologies, in the release. “The RUMI will demonstrate that advanced technology can be delivered to all areas of the world, ensuring the Global South and economically exploited regions receive access to high-fidelity diagnostics instead of solutions that are ill-suited to the environment.” Read more.

Houston sports tech startup is enhancing performance metrics for runners and athletes

Houston-based AiKYNETIX is equipping runners with high-tech tracking tools. Image courtesy of AiKYNETIX

With the Houston Marathon only five months away, a new application using human motion insights could help a runner refine their form to reach peak performance – all from the convenience of their smart phone.

While traditional treadmills are limited in training feedback and wearables are not designed to track elevation, Houston-based AiKYNETIX uses real-time technology to provide a new option for runners on treadmills.

“Runners spend a lot of time, energy and money to run better,” says Denis Akhiyarov, CEO and co-founder. “In my personal life with training for nine marathons, I’ve seen limitations with wearables, they don’t actually track running form while running. Overall, our technology tracks not only your basic parameters but it can also analyze the human running form while in motion.” Read more.

Local startup to upgrade EV charging in Houston and beyond

Houston-based Spark Spaces is looking to build out luxury spots for electric vehicle charging. Rendering courtesy of Spark Spaces

At 3 a.m. one night, just as he had many nights before, Tarun Girish found himself leaving his Houston apartment in search of an EV charger.

Once he located one, he would sit in his car for an hour and a half while his vehicle charged — with not much to do but wait.

But it was on this night he wondered if there was a way to use his previous hospitality experience to build a new kind of experience for EV drivers. He then developed his first iteration of a business plan — all while sitting in his driver’s seat.

His idea became Sparks Spaces, a startup formed in 2021 looking to shake up the EV charging game — the company aims to elevate the experience of charging electric vehicles by focusing on the space between car and charger by creating an airport lounge-type space for drivers. These EV lounges would include luxury waiting areas, clean restrooms, high-end food options, and availability to utilize them 24/7. Read more.

Houston neuroscientist turned startup founder takes steps toward comfier shoes

Steffie Tomson founded a company to prioritize comfort — without sacrificing style — for women on the go. Photo via getawaysticks.com

Two and half years ago, native Houstonian Steffie Tomson ordered $2,000 worth of shoes and sliced them all in half with a bandsaw just to see what was inside.

Tomson, a neuroscientist by trade and the founder and CEO of footwear startup Getaway Sticks, had an idea for a different kind of shoe — one that was redesigned to prioritize women’s comfort.

“I thought, ‘why can’t we start with a sneaker material and then build a heel around it?’” she tells InnovationMap. “I started just slicing everyone else’s shoes and now I’m more convinced than ever that our shoe is different.” Read more.

The 2022 Houston Innovation Awards revealed its big winners across 11 categories. Photos courtesy

InnovationMap, HX reveal winners from 2022 Houston Innovation Awards Gala

and the winners are...

That's a wrap on the Houston Innovation Awards Gala. InnovationMap and Houston Exponential announced the winners of the 2022 awards that celebrated Houston's booming innovation ecosystem, and 11 startups and individuals walked away with the awards.

The event, held November 9 at the Ion, honored all 43 finalists as well as Trailblazer Award recipient, Blair Garrou, managing director and founder of Houston-based venture capital firm Mercury. Click here to read about all the finalists.

Eight judges evaluated over 150 companies and individuals across 11 categories for the 2022 Houston Innovation Awards. This year's judges includedCarolynRodz, founder and CEO of Hello Alice; Wogbe Ofori, founder of Wrx Companies; ScottGale, executive director of Halliburton Labs; AshleyDanna, senior manager of regional economic development of Greater Houston Partnership; KellyMcCormick, professor at the University of Houston; PaulCherukuri, vice president of innovation at Rice University; LawsonGow, CEO of Houston Exponential; and NatalieHarms, editor of InnovationMap.

Without further adieu, here the winners from the 2022 Houston Innovation Awards.

BIPOC-Founded Business: Steradian Technologies

The winner for the BIPOC-Founded Business category, honoring an innovative company founded or co-founded by BIPOC representation, is: Steradian Technologies, a health tech startup that uses deep-photonics technology to diagnose respiratory diseases in seconds, all for the price of a latte.

Female-Founded Business: Sesh Coworking

The winner for the Female-Founded Business category, honoring an innovative company founded or co-founded by a woman, is: Sesh Coworking, a women and genderqueer inclusive coworking and community.

Hardtech Business: Fluence Analytics

The winner for the Hardtech Business category, honoring an innovative company developing and commercializing a physical technology across life science, energy, space, and beyond, is: Fluence Analytics, real-time analytics solution that optimizes processes and provides novel insights into material properties that enable customers to increase yields, improve product quality, and reduce costs.

B2B Software Business: Liongard

The winner for the B2B Software Business category, honoring an innovative company developing and programming a digital solution to impact the business sector, is: Liongard — software company that unlocks the intelligence hidden deep within IT systems to give MSPs an operational advantage that delivers both higher profits and an exceptional customer experience.

Green Impact Business: Cemvita Factory

The winner for the Green Impact Business category, honoring an innovative company providing a solution within renewables, climatetech, clean energy, alternative materials, and beyond, is: Cemvita Factory, a biotech company that uses a sustainable, economical, nature-inspired approach to empower companies with sustainable products and environmental technologies to decrease their carbon footprint, reverse climate change, and create a brighter future for the planet.

Smart City Business: Sensytec

The winner for the Smart City Business category, honoring an innovative company providing a tech solution within transportation, infrastructure, data, and beyond, is: Sensytec, an IoT Solutions platform that expedites and enhances concrete construction operations.

New to Hou Business: Venus Aerospace

The winner for the New to Hou Business category, honoring an innovative company, accelerator, or investor that has relocated its primary operations to Houston within the past three years, is: Venus Aerospace, the creator of a hypersonic spaceplane capable of one-hour global travel.

DEI Champion: Loretta Williams Gurnell

The winner for the DEI Champion category, honoring an individual who is leading impactful diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives and progress within Houston and their organization, is: Loretta Williams Gurnell, founder of SUPERGirls SHINE Foundation.

Mentor of the Year: Kara Branch

The winner for the Mentor of the Year category, honoring an individual who dedicates their time and expertise to guide and support to budding entrepreneurs, is: Kara Branch, founder and CEO of Black Girls Do Engineer Corp. and developer and manager at Intel Corp.

Investor of the Year: John "JR" Reale

The winner for the Investor of the Year category, honoring an individual who is leading venture capital or angel investing, is: John (JR) Reale, managing director of Integr8d Capital and venture lead of the Texas Medical Center Venture Fund

People's Choice (Startup of the Year): Milkify

The winner for the People's Choice: Startup of the Year category, selected via an interactive voting portal during of the event, is: Milkify — creator of patent-pending process to freeze-dry breast milk into a powder that is easy to use and transport and lasts for three years on the shelf.

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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.