Here's your latest roundup of innovation news you may have missed. Photo via Getty Images

Houston startup news is in full swing this year, and there might be some headlines you may have missed.

In this roundup of short stories within Houston startups and tech, Venus Aerospace makes an impressive appointment, a sportstech startup is headed to SXSW, and more.

Houston space startup names former NASA administrator to board

Jim Bridenstine, formerly NASA's administrator, has joined Venus Aerospace. Photo courtesy of Venus

A Houston-based company that's creating reusable hypersonic drones and spaceplanes has named its latest adviser. Jim Bridenstine, who served as the 13th administrator for NASA, is Venus Aerospace's latest addition to the team.

"I'm excited to be on the board of advisors for Venus Aerospace," Bridenstine says in a statement. "We have been plowing through the atmosphere at Mach 0.7 for over 70 years. This not only wastes time, but it also costs too much money and places greenhouse gasses in the atmosphere. It's time to disrupt the transportation business and Venus Aerospace has the talent to do it."

"Now we're going above the atmosphere, at hypersonic speeds, to get from one side of the planet to the other in a much cleaner way," he continues.

Founded in California in 2020 and then relocated to the Houston Spaceport, Venus is scaling after raising a $20M series A last spring.

"Jim brings a very unique perspective and capabilities from aviator to congressman to administrator," says Andrew Duggleby, CTO and co-founder, in the release. "The thing that gets me most excited is his ability to jump in, understand the context, and know exactly where he can make an immediate difference."

Houston startup snags spot as SXSW Pitch alternate

This Houston tech company has been named an alternate for the 2023 SXSW pitch. Photo via SXSW

SXSW announced 40 finalists for the 15th annual SXSW Pitch competition taking place March 11 to 12.

"Since its inception, SXSW Pitch has been front row to some of the most ambitious startups from around the world, using creative ideas to change their industry’s future," says SXSW Pitch Event Producer Chris Valentine in a news release. "We are thrilled to play a role in helping shape these early-stage ventures and connect them with the resources they need to thrive. This year’s competition will be a representation of the incredible and innovative work being done around the world."

In addition to the finalists for each category, SXSW names a handful of alternates. This year, Houston-based AiKYNETIX was included in the Artificial Intelligence, Robotics & Voice category.

AiKYNETIX, which was founded in January 2021, uses real-time video analytics technology to provide a new option for runners on treadmills. App users — runners and their coaches — then can measure running form and running performance metrics to improve training.

Houston IT and software services company claims spot on 2023 cloud tech awards

Rajasekhar Gummadapu is the CEO of Techwave. Photo via Techwave

Houston-based Techwave has won a prestigious award. The company claimed the “Best Cloud Migration or Systems Integration Solution” award at the 2022-2023 International Cloud Awards.

The award, which recognizes and honors industry leaders, innovators, and organizational transformation in cloud computing, was announced earlier this month.

"It is an honor to receive the Best Cloud Migration award at the International Cloud Awards," says Raj Gummadapu, co-founder and CEO, in a news release. "This accolade is a reflection of our relentless pursuit of innovation and delivering exceptional solutions."

Techwave is a global IT and engineering services and solutions company revolutionizing digital transformations.

Houston startup secures latest level of compliance

Koda Health has cleared a new level of compliance. Image via kodahealthcare.com

Growing Houston company Koda Health has announced that it achieved SOC 2 Type II compliance, a distinction that indicates a certain standard of securing customer data.

"This compliance demonstrates our commitment to protecting our partners and their data through enterprise-level security protocol and standards," the company announced on LinkedIn.

Koda Health was audited by Prescient Assurance, a leader in security and compliance attestation for B2B, SAAS companies worldwide, according to the company.

Get a sneak peek into the inaugural InnovationMap Awards presented by Techwave. Photo by Queen's Photoworks

Photos: InnovationMap shares scenes from its 2021 awards celebration

event highlights

Last week, the inaugural InnovationMap Awards presented by Techwave honored 28 companies across eight categories.

The hybrid event, which took place on September 8, was hosted at The Cannon West Houston as well as streamed online. The in-person attendees included finalists, judges, partners, and sponsors as well as their guests. Missed the event? We rounded up some moments in an episode of the Houston Innovators Podcast as well as the slideshow below.

Click here to read more articles about the InnovationMap Awards.

Scenes from the 2021 InnovationMap Awards

Photo by Queen's Photoworks

The crowd of startup founders, corporate innovators, and more attended the event at The Cannon West Houston.

Want more from the awards?

And the finalists for the inaugural InnovationMap Awards are... Graphic via Gow Media

InnovationMap names 28 Houston startup finalists for inaugural awards

who will take home the win?

Who are Houston's rising stars across energy transition, sports tech, health, and more? InnovationMap set out on a quest to discover that for its inaugural awards. Ahead of the September 8 event, we're revealing the finalists across all categories.

Eight judges evaluated over 100 applications across eight categories for the 2021 InnovationMap Awards presented by Techwave. This year's judges included: JulianaGaraizar, head of the Houston incubator and vice president of innovation at Greentown Labs; Alex Gras, managing director at The Cannon; Rajasekhar Gummadapu, co-founder and CEO of Techwave; Natalie Harms, editor of InnovationMap; Serafina Lalany, interim president at Houston Exponential; Jon Nordby, managing director at MassChallenge; Emily Reiser, senior manager of innovation community engagement at the Texas Medical Center; and Grace Rodriguez, CEO and executive director of Impact Hub Houston.

The winners will be announced and celebrated — along with this year's previously announced Trailblazer Award recipient, Barbara Burger of Chevron Technology Ventures — at the September 8 event at The Cannon - West Houston. Honorees, sponsors, judges, and their guests will celebrate in person, and the rest of the innovation community is invited to tune in to the livestream. Click here to RSVP.

Sponsorships are still available! If you are interested in partnering with InnovationMap as a sponsor of this event, send an email to awards@innovationmap.com.

Without further adieu, here are this year's finalists:

BIPOC-Founded Business Finalists

The finalists for the BIPOC-Founded Business Award category, honoring innovative tech companies founded or co-founded by BIPOC representation, are:

  • Allotrope Medical — creator of StimSite, a device that improves surgical safety and efficiency in millions of operations performed every year.
  • Hello Alice — a small business owner's passport through entrepreneurship that helps with networking, raising capital, and accessing growth tools.
  • LAMIK Beauty — a tech-enabled clean color cosmetics company focusing on women of all diverse backgrounds
  • Molecule Software — creator of a leading cloud-native energy trading software.

Female-Founded Business Finalists

The finalists for the Female-Founded Business Award category presented by Veritex Community Bank, honoring innovative tech companies founded or co-founded by women, include:

  • DonateStock — simplifying the process of donating stock and helping nonprofits solicit, process, and manage stock donations.
  • Hello Alice — a small business owner's passport through entrepreneurship that helps with networking, raising capital, and accessing growth tools.
  • re:3D Inc. — producer of large, affordable industrial 3D printers, and services that can print with new or recycled filament, pellets, or flake.
  • RingOn — wearable GPS tracker that is also a panic button that's designed for school kids and with an impact-driven mission of ending child trafficking.
  • Topl — impact monetization engine that enables digital and sustainable transformation across value chains and empowers the monetization of impact verified on the Topl Blockchain.
  • Zibrio Inc. — a fall prevention solution that empowers both clinicians and patients for better outcomes.

Health Care Business Finalists

The finalists for the Health Care Business Award category presented by Gray Reed, which honors health care businesses with an innovative solution within life sciences, include:

  • Allotrope Medical — creator of StimSite, a device that improves surgical safety and efficiency in millions of operations performed every year.
  • Medical Informatics Corp. — creator of Sickbay, which features web-based applications that transform data into actionable information to help care teams make better, faster decisions.
  • Saranas — creator of the Early Bird, the first and only FDA-approved bleed detection system for endovascular procedures.
  • Starling Medical — using AI and telehealth enabled medical devices to enable millions with bladder dysfunctions to be able to urinate safely and conveniently again.

Energy Transition Business Finalists

The finalists for the Energy Transition Business category, which honors energy business with innovative solutions within renewables, climatetech, clean energy, and beyond, are:

  • Cemvita Factory — engineering microbes that eat CO2 and produce valuable chemicals.
  • Data Gumbo — creator of an interconnected industrial smart contract network secured and powered by blockchain.
  • Enercross LLC — automation software for the energy industry.
  • Nanotech — a material science company with a mission to fireproof the world and reduce energy consumption.
  • re:3D Inc. — producer of large, affordable industrial 3D printers, and services that can print with new or recycled filament, pellets, or flake.
  • Renewell Energy — converting idle oil and gas wells into flexible energy storage.

Sports Tech Business Finalists

The finalists for the Sports Tech Business category, which is honoring a sports tech business with an innovative solution within sports are:

  • FitLift — a wearable device and mobile platform that tracks motion and gives real-time feedback on lifting technique, allowing trainers, and athletes to drive results.
  • Mainline — an esports tournament management system, tournament organizer, and event production company.
  • sEATz — a mobile ordering and delivery platform for food, drinks, and merchandise at large events.

Space Tech Business Finalists

The finalists for the Space Tech Business category, which is honoring an aerospace business with an innovative solution within space exploration. are:

  • Cemvita Factory — engineering microbes that eat CO2 and produce valuable chemicals.
  • Cognitive Space — providing a scalable satellite constellation management solution to the space industry.
  • NANCO Aero — developing package- and person-carrying air vehicles.

Top Founder Under 40 Finalists

The finalists for the Top Founder Under 40 category, which honors an innovative founder younger than 40 by Sept. 8, 2021, are:

  • Pamela Singh of CaseCTRL — using artificial intelligence and automation to streamline surgical scheduling.
  • Timothy Neal of GoExpedi — an e-commerce, supply chain, and analytics company that is streamlining procurement for industrial and energy MRO (maintenance, repair and operations).
  • Kim Roxie of LAMIK Beauty — a tech-enabled clean color cosmetics company focusing on women of all diverse backgrounds.
  • Emma Fauss of Medical Informatics Corp. — creator of Sickbay, which features web-based applications that transform data into actionable information to help care teams make better, faster decisions.
  • Emily Cisek of The Postage — a legacy planning platform using tech to make afterlife decision making easier.

People’s Choice: Startup of the Year Finalists

The finalists for the People's Choice: Startup of the Year category, which will each present a 60-second live elevator pitch at the event on September 8, are:

    • Cheers Health — creating products that are designed to support your liver and help you feel better after consuming alcohol.
    • GoCo — all-in-one employee management platform.
    • Hello Alice — a small business owner's passport through entrepreneurship that helps with networking, raising capital, and accessing growth tools.
    • Liongard — a platform that helps Information Technology companies automatically discover, document, and audit their customers' IT systems.
    • Nanotech — a material science company with a mission to fireproof the world and reduce energy consumption.
    • re:3D Inc. — producer of large, affordable industrial 3D printers, and services that can print with new or recycled filament, pellets, or flake.
    • Topl — impact monetization engine that enables digital and sustainable transformation across value chains and empowers the monetization of impact verified on the Topl Blockchain.

    Raj Gummadapu, CEO and co-founder of Techwave, is excited to be working among the tech scene in Houston. Photo courtesy of Techwave

    Software co. leader shares why he bet on Houston's tech talent with HQ move

    houston innovators podcast episode 96

    A couple years ago, Raj Gummadapu and his executive team moved the Techwave headquarters to Houston from the Northeast in order to access a diverse workforce in a city with a developing tech scene. He's never looked back.

    Gummadapu joined this week's episode of the Houston Innovators Podcast to discuss why he placed his bets on Houston and took his global IT services and solutions company from the suburbs of Philadelphia to the Bayou City — a move that happened as Techwave became more globally focused.

    "When we started looking at various cities, Houston presented itself as a great opportunity," Gummadapu says on the episode. "Houston is home to large Fortune 500 companies, and the talent pool we get here has really attracted us to make this as our home."

    The company, which employs 1,800 people, provides end-to-end software solutions for companies from scaling startups to massive corporations.

    "We are widely spread in terms of our service offerings," Gummadapu says. "Our unique positioning on Techwave is it's the right sized organization for companies that are looking for services partners with strong domain knowledge and great expertise with the technology, but has a quality of being a good transition partner."

    Gummadapu says Techwave has several startups in its portfolio of clients across industries, including health tech, education tech, and blockchain.

    "We service a lot of technology companies in startup stage," Gummadapu says. "We bring that core knowledge to the table and help startups think from a different angle, as well as bring our services from the domain knowledge standpoint to work collaboratively to deliver a solution to startups. We're the perfect fit for startups and bring a 360-degree view."

    Techwave is again betting on Houston and its startup ecosystem as the presenting sponsor for the inaugural InnovationMap Awards. Nominations for the awards have closed, but online registration for the hybrid event is open.

    Gummadapu shares more on how he's seen the software services industry evolve over his 20-plus years in the industry, as well as the challenges he's facing today on the episode. Stream the show below or wherever you get your podcasts.


    You have an extra week to submit your nominations. Graphic via Gow Media

    Deadline extended for inaugural InnovationMap Awards nominations

    nominate now

    If you didn't get a chance to submit your nomination for the inaugural InnovationMap Awards presented by Techwave by the July 23 deadline — you're in luck. The nomination period has been extended, and you now have an extra week to submit.

    The new — and final — deadline for nominations is July 30 by midnight. Submissions can be made online at InnovationMapAwards.com.

    Following nominations, the nominated companies will receive an application to submit by August 13. The already nominated companies will receive their applications today. So, if you're interested in being a part of the awards and you haven't received an application from InnovationMap by the end of Monday, July 26, your company has not already been nominated.

    The categories for the awards are:

    • BIPOC-Owned Business honoring an innovative tech company founded or co-founded by BIPOC representation
    • Female-Owned Business honoring an innovative tech company founded or co-founded by a woman
    • Health Care Business honoring a health care business with an innovative solution within life sciences
    • Energy Transition Business honoring an energy business with an innovative solution within renewables, climatetech, clean energy, and beyond
    • Space Tech Business honoring an aerospace business with an innovative solution within space exploration
    • Sports Tech Business honoring a tech business with an innovative solution within sports
    • Top Founder Under 40 honoring an innovative founder younger than 40 by Sept. 8, 2021
    • Lifetime Achievement Award honoring an innovator who's made a lasting impact on the Houston innovation community
    • People's Choice: Startup of the Year selected via an internet voting portal ahead of the event
    • Techwave's Texas Advocate Awards honoring two non-Houston based companies selected by our presenting sponsor, Techwave

    Earlier this month, InnovationMap named the eight judges for this year's awards. Click here to see who will be selecting the award finalists and winners.

    Follow along on InnovationMap as we learn more about the program's inaugural nominees. Then, on September 8, we will host the finalists and a group of special guests at The Cannon for a celebration of the city's top innovators. A livestream of the event will be open to everyone on the night of the awards — tune in to find out who takes home the big win across all 10 categories.

    Click here to RSVP for what will surely be a can't-miss event in Houston innovation.

    Here's who's making the call for the inaugural InnovationMap Awards. Photos courtesy

    InnovationMap names judges for inaugural awards program

    in the hot seat

    It's been two weeks since InnovationMap announced its inaugural awards program presented by Techwave — and the ecosystem is already buzzing with excitement to find out the top innovative companies in town.

    The InnovationMap Awards will honor Houston's innovators and their breakthrough technologies across industries. The program and hybrid event — which will take place September 8 — will shine a spotlight on the movers and shakers within Houston's burgeoning innovation community. Nominations are open for the awards now — and the deadline to submit your nomination is July 23.

    Click here to nominate a deserving company.

    But who will decide this year's finalists and winners for the event? A cohort of eight of the best innovation leaders in the Bayou City. Introducing: The 2021 InnovationMap Awards judges:

    Juliana Garaizar, head of Greentown Houston and vice president of Greentown Labs

    Courtesy photo

    A longtime angel investor and Houston innovation leader, Juliana Garaizar is no stranger to the local ecosystem. Prior to her current role leading Greentown Labs in Houston, she served as director of the Texas Medical Center's Venture Fund and managing director at the Houston Angel Network. She's also involved with Houston-based Business Angel Minority Association, or baMa, and has worked with Portfolia for over five years.

    Jon Nordby, managing director at MassChallenge

    Photo courtesy of MassChallenge

    ​A leader in Houston innovation for several years now, Jon Nordby oversees Boston-based MassChallenge's entire Texas operation. MassChallenge's global accelerator program supports an annual cohort of startups across industries. Prior to his current role, he served as director of strategy at Houston Exponential and vice president of talent and innovation at the Greater Houston Partnership.

    Grace Rodriguez, CEO and executive director of Impact Hub Houston

    Photo courtesy of Impact Hub Houston

    Grace Rodriguez has dedicated herself to helping do-gooders do greater, as her LinkedIn page proudly boasts, and for the past three years, she's been doing that by leading Impact Hub Houston, a locally rooted, globally connected 501c3 nonprofit that champions inclusive, impact-driven innovation. She also co-founded Station Houston in 2016.

    Emily Reiser, senior manager of innovation community engagement at the Texas Medical Center

    Photo courtesy of TMC Innovation

    Emily Reiser is like a switchboard operator for TMC Innovation, where she's worked with health tech startups since 2019. She supports clinicians, innovators, corporate partners, and business advisers who are dedicated to advancing healthcare innovation all while providing a common ground for collaboration, connection, and innovation.

    Serafina Lalany, vice president of operations at Houston Exponential

    Photo courtesy of Serafina Lalany

    Serafina Lalany leads operations at Houston Exponential, the city's nonprofit focused on accelerating the development of Houston's innovation economy. She's also a board member of Diversity Fund Houston — a micro venture fund created to invest in minority tech founders during the "friends and family round."

    Alex Gras, managing director at The Cannon

    Photo via LinkedIn

    After spending eight years in oil and gas, Alex Gras took his management skills to The Cannon Houston — a network of entrepreneurial hubs across Houston. The Cannon is the InnovationMap Awards venue for the September 8 event.

    Rajasekhar Gummadapu, CEO of Techwave

    Photo courtesy

    Raj Gummadapu is the co-founder of Techwave, the award program's presenting sponsor. An accountant by trade, he has about 17 years of experience with combination of working with "big 5" consulting companies and various midsize to Fortune 100 companies across different industries on various strategic initiatives and global process and systems transformations.

    Natalie Harms, editor of InnovationMap

    Photo courtesy

    Natalie Harms has been at the helm of InnovationMap — Houston's voice for Innovation — since its inception in October 2018. She oversees all editorial operations of the site and hosts its weekly podcast, the Houston Innovators Podcast.

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    Houston-based lunar mission's rocky landing and what it means for America's return to the moon

    houston, we have a problem

    A private U.S. lunar lander tipped over at touchdown and ended up on its side near the moon’s south pole, hampering communications, company officials said Friday.

    Intuitive Machines initially believed its six-footed lander, Odysseus, was upright after Thursday's touchdown. But CEO Steve Altemus said Friday the craft “caught a foot in the surface," falling onto its side and, quite possibly, leaning against a rock. He said it was coming in too fast and may have snapped a leg.

    “So far, we have quite a bit of operational capability even though we’re tipped over," he told reporters.

    But some antennas were pointed toward the surface, limiting flight controllers' ability to get data down, Altemus said. The antennas were stationed high on the 14-foot (4.3-meter) lander to facilitate communications at the hilly, cratered and shadowed south polar region.

    Odysseus — the first U.S. lander in more than 50 years — is thought to be within a few miles (kilometers) of its intended landing site near the Malapert A crater, less than 200 miles (300 kilometers) from the south pole. NASA, the main customer, wanted to get as close as possible to the pole to scout out the area before astronauts show up later this decade.

    NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter will attempt to pinpoint the lander's location, as it flies overhead this weekend.

    With Thursday’s touchdown, Intuitive Machines became the first private business to pull off a moon landing, a feat previously achieved by only five countries. Japan was the latest country to score a landing, but its lander also ended up on its side last month.

    Odysseus' mission was sponsored in large part by NASA, whose experiments were on board. NASA paid $118 million for the delivery under a program meant to jump-start the lunar economy.

    One of the NASA experiments was pressed into service when the lander's navigation system did not kick in. Intuitive Machines caught the problem in advance when it tried to use its lasers to improve the lander's orbit. Otherwise, flight controllers would not have discovered the failure until it was too late, just five minutes before touchdown.

    “Serendipity is absolutely the right word,” mission director Tim Crain said.

    It turns out that a switch was not flipped before flight, preventing the system's activation in space.

    Launched last week from Florida, Odysseus took an extra lap around the moon Thursday to allow time for the last-minute switch to NASA's laser system, which saved the day, officials noted.

    Another experiment, a cube with four cameras, was supposed to pop off 30 seconds before touchdown to capture pictures of Odysseus’ landing. But Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University’s EagleCam was deliberately powered off during the final descent because of the navigation switch and stayed attached to the lander.

    Embry-Riddle's Troy Henderson said his team will try to release EagleCam in the coming days, so it can photograph the lander from roughly 26 feet (8 meters) away.

    "Getting that final picture of the lander on the surface is still an incredibly important task for us,” Henderson told The Associated Press.

    Intuitive Machines anticipates just another week of operations on the moon for the solar-powered lander — nine or 10 days at most — before lunar nightfall hits.

    The company was the second business to aim for the moon under NASA's commercial lunar services program. Last month, Pittsburgh's Astrobotic Technology gave it a shot, but a fuel leak on the lander cut the mission short and the craft ended up crashing back to Earth.

    Until Thursday, the U.S. had not landed on the moon since Apollo 17's Gene Cernan and Harrison Schmitt closed out NASA's famed moon-landing program in December 1972. NASA's new effort to return astronauts to the moon is named Artemis after Apollo's mythological twin sister. The first Artemis crew landing is planned for 2026 at the earliest.

    3 female Houston innovators to know this week

    who's who

    Editor's note: Welcome to another Monday edition of Innovators to Know. Today I'm introducing you to three Houstonians to read up about — three individuals behind recent innovation and startup news stories in Houston as reported by InnovationMap. Learn more about them and their recent news below by clicking on each article.

    Emma Konet, co-founder and CTO of Tierra Climate

    Emma Konet, co-founder and CTO of Tierra Climate, joins the Houston Innovators Podcast. Photo via LinkedIn

    If the energy transition is going to be successful, the energy storage space needs to be equipped to support both the increased volume of energy needed and new energies. And Emma Konet and her software company, Tierra Climate, are targeting one part of the equation: the market.

    "To me, it's very clear that we need to build a lot of energy storage in order to transition the grid," Konet says on the Houston Innovators Podcast. "The problems that I saw were really on the market side of things." Read more.

    Cindy Taff, CEO of Sage Geosystems

    Houston-based Sage Geosystems announced the first close of $17 million round led by Chesapeake Energy Corp. Photo courtesy of Sage

    A Houston geothermal startup has announced the close of its series A round of funding.

    Houston-based Sage Geosystems announced the first close of $17 million round led by Chesapeake Energy Corp. The proceeds aim to fund its first commercial geopressured geothermal system facility, which will be built in Texas in Q4 of 2024. According to the company, the facility will be the first of its kind.

    “The first close of our Series A funding and our commercial facility are significant milestones in our mission to make geopressured geothermal system technologies a reality,” Cindy Taff, CEO of Sage Geosystems, says. Read more.

    Clemmie Martin, chief of staff at The Cannon

    With seven locations across the Houston area, The Cannon's digital technology allows its members a streamlined connection. Photo courtesy of The Cannon

    After collaborating over the years, The Cannon has acquired a Houston startup's digital platform technology to become a "physical-digital hybrid" community.

    Village Insights, a Houston startup, worked with The Cannon to create and launch its digital community platform Cannon Connect. Now, The Cannon has officially acquired the business. The terms of the deal were not disclosed.

    “The integration of a world-class onsite member experience and Cannon Connect’s superior virtual resource network creates a seamless, streamlined environment for member organizations,” Clemmie Martin, The Cannon’s newly appointed chief of staff, says in the release. “Cannon Connect and this acquisition have paved new pathways to access and success for all.” Read more.

    Texas organization grants $68.5M to Houston institutions for recruitment, research

    Three prominent institutions in Houston will be able to snag a trio of high-profile cancer researchers thanks to $12 million in new funding from the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas.

    The biggest recruitment award — $6 million — went to the University of Texas MD Anderson Center to lure researcher Xiling Shen away from the Terasaki Institute for Biomedical Innovation in Los Angeles.

    Shen is chief scientific officer at the nonprofit Terasaki Institute. His lab there studies precision medicine, including treatments for cancer, from a “systems biology perspective.”

    He also is co-founder and former CEO of Xilis, a Durham, North Carolina-based oncology therapy startup that raised $70 million in series A funding in 2021. Before joining the institute in 2021, the Stanford University graduate was an associate professor at Duke University in Durham.

    Shen and Xilis aren’t strangers to MD Anderson.

    In 2023, MD Anderson said it planned to use Xilis’ propriety MicroOrganoSphere (MOS) technology for development of novel cancer therapies.

    “Our research suggests the MOS platform has the potential to offer new capabilities and to improve the efficiency of developing innovative drugs and cell therapies over current … models, which we hope will bring medicines to patients more quickly,” Shen said in an MD Anderson news release.

    Here are the two other Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas (CPRIT) awards that will bring noted cancer researchers to Houston:

    • $4 million to attract David Sarlah to Rice University from the University of Illinois, where he is an associate professor of chemistry. Sarlah’s work includes applying the principles of chemistry to creation of new cancer therapies.
    • $2 million to lure Vishnu Dileep to the Baylor College of Medicine from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), where he is a postdoctoral fellow. His work includes the study of cancer genomes.

    CPRIT also handed out more than $56.5 million in grants and awards to seven institutions in the Houston area. Here’s the rundown:

    • MD Anderson Cancer Center — Nearly $25.6 million
    • Baylor College of Medicine — Nearly $11.5 million
    • University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston — More than $6 million
    • Rice University — $4 million
    • University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston — More than $3.5 million
    • Methodist Hospital Research Institute — More than $3.3 million
    • University of Houston — $1.4 million

    Dr. Pavan Reddy, a CPRIT scholar who is a professor at the Baylor College of Medicine and director of its Dan L Duncan Comprehensive Cancer Care Center, says the CPRIT funding “will help our investigators take chances and explore bold ideas to make innovative discoveries.”

    The Houston-area funding was part of nearly $99 million in grants and awards that CPRIT recently approved.