U.S. News & World Report has released its annual and much-heralded list of Best Hospitals in the nation. Photo courtesy

A prestigious, annual national report has verified what Houstonians already know: Our Medical Center boasts the best adult and children’s hospital in Texas and the best cancer center in America.

U.S. News & World Report released its 2022-23 Best Hospitals list, which names The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center No. 1 in the nation for cancer care. For those keeping track, MD Anderson has been considered in the top two cancer hospitals in the U.S. since the U.S. News launched the survey in 1990.

While securing the top rank for cancer care, MD Anderson also scored high national ranks for specialty treatments: urology (No. 5) and diabetes and endocrinology (No. 13). The center continues to maintain its “High Performing” rating on the U.S. News list for colon cancer and lung cancer. It also received “High Performing” ratings for the three newly added adult procedures and conditions: ovarian cancer, prostate cancer, and uterine cancer, per a press release.

“We are proud to be ranked as the nation’s leader in cancer care,” said Peter WT Pisters, M.D., president of MD Anderson, in a statement. “This ongoing recognition is thanks to the incredible MD Anderson community, including our faculty, employees, trainees, students, donors and advocates, who advance our science and our mission and who serve our patients by enabling us to provide the best care possible.”

Rankings for the annual U.S. News study are based on scores in patient care, patient safety, outcomes, nursing, advanced technology, and reputation.

Houston leads medicine in Texas
The tagline for Houston Methodist Hospital systems — “leading medicine” — is quite fitting here in Texas. The hospital comes in at No. 15 nationally (marking the sixth time it has been recognized in the report’s Honor Roll) and No. 1 in Texas for the 11th year in a row. Locally, Houston Methodist Sugar Land ranks No. 5 in Houston and No. in Texas, a press release notes.

Notably, U.S. News has ranked Houston Methodist Hospital in at least one specialty for the past 30 years. This year, Houston Methodist Hospital ranks in 10 specialties, the most of any hospital in the state, according to the report. Two of these ranked specialties appear in the list’s top 10 (diabetes and endocrinology at No. 9; gastroenterology/GI surgery at No. 8), while six are ranked in the top 20.

“This is a tremendous achievement for our physicians and employees who dedicate themselves every day to our patients – especially as we continue to provide the highest quality care during these trying times in health care,” said Marc Boom, M.D., president and CEO of Houston Methodist, in a statement. “Our mission to provide unparalleled care is for our patients, who are the reason we need to be one of the best hospital systems in the country.”

Texas Children’s tops Texas and Southwest
Yet another Houston hospital scored extremely well nationally in the list. Texas Children’s Hospital ranks No. 2 overall in the Best Children’s Hospitals ranking. The beloved children’s center also remains top in Texas and the Southwest, and at No. 1 in heart treatment for the sixth year in a row. No other pediatric hospital in Texas has achieved an overall ranking as high as Texas Children’s has in the past 14 years, a Texas Children’s release notes.

“We are beyond thrilled with the newest U.S. News & World Report rankings that place Texas Children’s Hospital second in the United States and first in the state of Texas,” said Mark A. Wallace, president and CEO, in a statement. “Consistent collaboration, newfound discoveries and extraordinary patient care is what has brought us to where we are today. I am incredibly proud of this remarkable team and everything we’ve accomplished together — and our promise to every family is that we are just getting started.”

Texas’ best mental health care is here
Also boasting top honors in the state — and No. 10 nationally — is the Menninger Clinic. The acclaimed facility tied for tenth place on U.S. News’ list of best psychiatric hospitals, making it the all-out best in Texas.

Of note, Menninger has been named a top-10 psychiatry hospital in the U.S. for 32 consecutive years, the hospital points out. “With the growing need for mental health care, we are grateful for the trust that psychiatrists have had in referring their clients to The Menninger Clinic for comprehensive diagnosis and treatment,” said president and CEO Armando E. Colombo in a statement.

Elsewhere in Texas
Dallas-Fort Worth is home to the No. 2 hospital in Texas, per U.S. News. UT Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas also ranked especially well nationally in urology (No. 11), cardiology and heart surgery (No. 14), diabetes and endocrinology (No. 18), pulmonology and lung surgery, (No. 21), and cancer (No. 25).

Not far down the list is Baylor University Medical Center in Dallas, which ranked No. 4 in Texas. One Baylor department ranked nationally: gastroenterology and GI surgery department, No. 34.

Meanwhile, Austin’s St. David’s Medical Center ranked No. 8 in Texas. Austinites in need of post-procedure work and physical therapy should note that the hospital’s rehabilitation department ranked nationally, coming in at No. 37 overall.

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This article originally ran on CultureMap.

CNBC’s ranking doesn't think too kindly of Texas. Photo via Getty Images

Texas named No. 2 worst state to live, but one of the best for business

mixed messages

It’s a tale of two states. A new study from CNBC ranks Texas as the fifth best state for doing business. But CNBC simultaneously puts Texas in second place among the worst states to live.

Texas rates poorly for life, health, and inclusion, CNBC says. In fact, the Lone Star state holds the No. 49 spot in that category. Texas’ weaknesses include childcare, health resources, inclusiveness, and voting rights, according to CNBC.

Skilled workers continue to flock to Texas despite lingering quality-of-life issues, CNBC says.

“But when they arrive, they are finding limited childcare options, a stressed health care system with the highest rate of uninsured, new curbs on voting rights, and few protections against discrimination,” CNBC says.

Only Arizona fared worse on CNBC’s list of the worst states to live.

In 2021, Texas wound up at No. 31 on U.S. News & World Report’s list of the best states. Texas’ highest rankings came in the economy (No. 9) and fiscal stability (No. 10) categories. But it notched rankings below 30 in five other categories: healthcare (No. 31), education (No. 34), crime and corrections (No. 37), opportunity (No. 39), and natural environment (No. 40).

Louisiana came in last place on U.S. News’ list of the best states.

Despite its poor showing in the CNBC study as a place to live, Texas claims the No. 5 spot in the cable news network’s study of the best states for doing business. It ranks especially high for its workforce (No. 2), technology and innovation (No. 4), and economy (No. 8). In CNBC’s 2021 study, Texas landed at No. 4 among the best states for doing business.

This year, North Carolina grabs the CNBC crown as the best state for business, up from second place in 2021.

In an interview last year with CNBC, Gov. Greg Abbott emphasized Texas’ growing stature as a business magnet.

“We continue to see a massive influx of these employers coming to the state of Texas because, candidly, not only do they like the business environment, but … there’s a lot of businesses and a lot of Americans who like the social positions that the state of Texas is taking,” said Abbott, referring to recent legislative restrictions on abortion and voting rights.

Abbott went on to note that Tesla CEO Elon Musk, the world’s richest person, decided in late 2021 to shift the headquarters of the automaker from “very liberal” California to Texas.

“People vote with their feet,” the governor said, “and this [wave of socially conservative legislation] is not slowing down businesses coming to the state of Texas at all. In fact, it is accelerating the process of businesses coming to Texas.”

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This article originally ran on CultureMap.

Houston fell almost 20 spots on this annual ranking of best places to live. Photo via Sean Pavone/Getty Images

Houston plummets in prestigious annual list of best places to live in the U.S.

ouch

While the Bayou City has just been named the No. 1 destination for movers this year, a new report sees Houston slip again as to the best place to live.

U.S. News & World Report has released its annual ranking of the best places to live in the U.S., and Houston has tumbled down to No. 58 overall. That's a considerable slip from last year, where the city ranked No. 39, and much farther than the rank in 2020.

"A paycheck goes further in Houston than it does in other major metro areas, with affordable housing and free or cheap attractions like biking along Buffalo Bayou and exploring the 7,800-acre George Bush Park," says the report. "The affordability of this region, which is located in southeastern Texas and home to nearly 7 million residents in the metro area, is attracting new people from across the country and around the world."

"In Houston, dining is a pastime," the report adds, "and the region pleases palates with more than 10,000 restaurants. Houston has everything from award-winning establishments to barbecue joints like Gatlin's BBQ. The metro area also offers a variety of international cuisine including Ethiopian and Indian."

At a state level, the Bayou City also once again ranks No. 3 in the reports Best Places to Live in Texas.

For this year’s ranking, U.S. News considered key factors for 150 metro areas such as job availability, housing affordability, quality of life, and desirability. This year, the publication added data about air quality for the first time.

Huntsville, Alabama, grabbed the No. 1 spot from last year’s top-ranked metro, Boulder, Colorado. Huntsville came in third place last year.

“Much of the shakeup we see at the top of this year’s ranking is a result of changing preferences,” Devon Thorsby, real estate editor at U.S. News, says in a news release. “People moving across the country today are putting more emphasis on affordability and quality of life than on the job market, which in many ways takes a back seat as remote work options have become more standard.”

Elsewhere in the U.S. News rankings:

  • Dallas-Fort Worth landed at No. 32, up from No. 37 last year.
  • San Antonio landed at No. 83, down from No. 75 last year.
  • Killeen landed at No. 108, up from No. 114 last year.
  • Beaumont landed at No. 109, up from No. 124 last year.
  • El Paso landed at No. 124, up from No. 131 last year.
  • Corpus Christi landed at No. 133, down from No. 129 last year.
  • Brownsville landed at No. 134, up from No. 140 last year.
  • McAllen landed at No. 138, up from No. 139 last year.
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This article originally ran on CultureMap.

Graduating from UH? Stick around! Photo courtesy of University of Houston

Houston makes the grade as a top place to live after college, says new report

honor roll

For many college students, it's tough to imagine life after college when they're cramming for exams and cranking out research papers. Yet the time does come when they'll venture into the "real world" with their degrees.

Before graduation rolls around, college students often find themselves wondering where to start their after-school journeys. To help with this homework, real estate website Point2 has developed a list of the best places for life after college, and Houston — home of University of Houston and Rice University — lands at No. 33 overall.

The website looked at an array of factors to come up with its ranking, such as population growth, business growth, median age, household income growth, poverty rate, and housing availability and prices.

Point2 considered only the 86 places that host the country's 100 most successful colleges and universities, as rated by U.S. News & World Report.

Other Texas communities on the list are:

  • No. 1 Austin, home of University of Texas.
  • No. 5 Fort Worth, home of Texas Christian University.
  • No. 17 College Station, home of Texas A&M University.
  • No. 21 Dallas, home of Southern Methodist University.
  • No. 24 Waco, home of Baylor University.

"While education and innovation keep these educational institutions on the map, it's the economic and social conditions in the city that convince students to pursue a career and build a life in their college town. That's why household incomes, home prices, the number of businesses and startups, and even the city's poverty rates weigh heavy," Point2 says.

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This article originally ran on CultureMap.

A Woodlands school has moved to the head of the class. Photo by Klaus Vedfelt/Getty Images

Houston-area school scores top 10 status in Texas

star pupils

A Houston-area school earned top honors in Texas in U.S. News & World Report's first-ever ranking of the state's best elementary schools.

Creekside Forest Elementary School comes in at No. 10. Creekside is nestled in the bustling Woodlands and in the Tomball Independent School District.

A public school, Creekside Forest Elementary boasts student population of 571, serving serves kindergarten through fifth grade. Impressively, according to the report, 93 percent of students here scored at or above the proficient level for math, and 87 percent scored at or above that level for reading.

Notably, the student-teacher ratio is at Creekside is 16:1, which is better than that of the district. The school employs 36 equivalent full-time teachers and one full-time school counselor.

The student population at Creekside is made up of 49 percent female students and 51 percent male students, with minority student enrollment at 43 percent. One percent of students here at economically disadvantaged.

According to the school's website, Creekside "is a learning community where all continuously strive for excellence."

Unlike its annual list of the country's best high schools, U.S. News & World Report didn't come up with a national ranking of elementary schools. Rather, it published a ranking for each state.

Myriad other Houston-area schools land later on the list, including West University Elementary at No. 17. According to U.S. News, the 10 best elementary schools in Texas are:

  1. William B. Travis Academy/Vanguard for the Academically Talented and Gifted, Dallas ISD.
  2. Windsor Park G/T Elementary School, Corpus Christi ISD.
  3. Old Union Elementary School, Carroll ISD.
  4. Carroll Elementary School, Carroll ISD.
  5. Hudson Elementary School, Longview ISD.
  6. Sudie L. Williams Talented and Gifted Academy, Dallas ISD.
  7. Canyon Creek Elementary School, Round Rock ISD.
  8. Carver Center, Midland ISD.
  9. Cactus Ranch Elementary School, Round Rock ISD.
  10. Creekside Forest Elementary School, Tomball ISD.
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This article originally ran on CultureMap.

Rice University again makes U.S. News & World Report annual list of top schools in the country. Photo courtesy of Rice University

Rice University scores another accolade as top school in the nation

ranked again

Houston's Rice University keeps reaping accolades. This time around, it's been named one of the best national universities by U.S. News & World Report.

Rice ties for No. 17 on the U.S. News & World Report list of the top 40 national universities. Last year, Rice tied for 16th place.

The only other Texas school to make this year's list is the University of Texas at Austin, tied for No. 38. Princeton University in Princeton, Jersey, claims the No. 1 spot.

U.S. News says the list, released September 13, features a mix of research institutions that offer an array of undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral programs.

"Students and faculty continue to feel the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, whether it's through remote learning, mask-wearing, or vaccine requirements," Kim Castro, editor and chief content officer at U.S. News, says in a news release. "As communities work through these challenges, U.S. News is committed to providing information on the academic quality of institutions across the country, so prospective students and their families can make informed decisions throughout their college search."

U.S. News assesses colleges and university on 17 measures of academic quality. These include class sizes, graduation and retention rates, academic reputation, and availability of financial aid for students.

The U.S. News ranking follows several other kudos for Rice:

  • It appears on the Princeton Review's recent list of the 387 best colleges in the U.S. The Princeton Review does not rank schools individually.
  • Niche.com recently ranked it the seventh best college in the U.S.
  • The school ties for No. 15 in the most recent Wall Street Journal/Times Higher Education College Rankings.

The plaudits come ahead of David Leebron's departure next year as president of Rice. He's held the job since 2004.

"I am so grateful to Rice University for this incredible opportunity and to you, the extraordinary people who make up the Rice community and who have time and again demonstrated our common values and commitment to excellence, creativity and compassion," Leebron wrote in a May 26 email to faculty and students. "Working together, we have been driven by our desire to contribute to the betterment of our world and by our constant ambition to become an ever better university."

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Houston company premieres new platform for gig economy workforce

tech support

As the independent workforce continues to grow, a Houston-based company is aiming to connect these workers with companies that match their specific needs with a new digital platform.

FlexTek, a 14-year old recruiting and staffing company, launched a first gig site tailored to the needs of the individual worker. The platform, Workz360, is built to be able to manage projects, maintain quality control, and manage billing and year-end financial reporting.The company is also working to expanding the platform to provide infrastructure to assist independent workers with education, access to savings programs, tax compliance through vetted third-party CPA firms, and hopes in the future to assist with access to liability and medical insurance.

With a younger workforce and a shifting economy, the “gig economy,” which is another way to describe how people can earn a living as a 1099 worker, offers an alternative option to the corporate grind in a post-pandemic workscape. Chief Marketing Officer Bill Penczak of Workz360 calls this era “Gig 2.0,” and attributes the success of this type of workforce to how during the COVID-19 pandemic people learned how to work, and thrive in non-traditional work environments. The site also boasts the fact it won’t take a bite out of the worker’s pay, which could be an attractive sell for many since other sites can take up to 65 percent of profit.

“In the past few years, with the advent of gig job platforms, the Independent workers have been squeezed by gig work platforms taking a disproportionate amount of the workers’ income,” said FlexTek CEO and founder Stephen Morel in a news release. “As a result, there has been what we refer to as ‘pay padding,’ a phenomenon in which workers are raising their hourly or project rates to compensate for the bite taken by other platforms.

"Workz360 is designed to promote greater transparency, and we believe the net result will be for workers to thrive and companies to save money by using the platform,” he continues.

As the workforce has continued to change over the years, a third of the current U.S. workforce are independent workers according to FlexTek, workers have gained the ability to have more freedom where and how they work. Workz360 aims to cater to this workforce by believing in a simple mantra of treating your workers well.

“We’ve had a lot of conversations about this, but we like the Southwest Airlines model,” Penczak tells InnovationMap. “Southwest Airlines treats their people very well, and as a result those employees treat the passengers really well. We believe the same thing holds true. If we can provide resources, and transparency, and not take a bite out of what the gig worker is charging, then we will get the best and the brightest people since they feel like they won’t be taken advantage of. We think there is an opportunity to be a little different and put the people first.”

NASA launches new research projects toward astronauts on ISS

ready to research

For the 26th time, SpaceX has sent up supplies to the International Space Station, facilitating several new research projects that will bring valuable information to the future of space.

On Saturday at 1:20 pm, the SpaceX Dragon spacecraft launched on the Falcon 9 rocket from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida — bringing with it more than 7,700 pounds of science experiments, crew supplies, and other cargo. The anticipated docking time is Sunday morning, and the cargo spacecraft will remain aboard the ISS for 45 days, according to a news release from NASA.

Among the supplies delivered to the seven international astronauts residing on the ISS are six research experiments — from health tech to vegetation. Here's a glimpse of the new projects sent up to the scientists in orbit:

Moon Microscope

Image via NASA.gov

Seeing as astronauts are 254 miles away from a hospital on Earth — and astronauts on the moon would be almost 1,000 times further — the need for health technology in space is top of mind for researchers. One new device, the Moon Microscope, has just been sent up to provide in-flight medical diagnosis. The device includes a portable hand-held microscope and a small self-contained blood sample staining tool, which can communicate information to Earth for diagnosis.

"The kit could provide diagnostic capabilities for crew members in space or on the surface of the Moon or Mars," reads a news release. "The hardware also may provide a variety of other capabilities, such as testing water, food, and surfaces for contamination and imaging lunar surface samples."

Fresh produce production

Salads simply aren't on the ISS menu, but fresh technology might be changing that. Researchers have been testing a plant growth unit on station known as Veggie, which has successfully grown a variety of leafy greens, and the latest addition is Veg-05 — focused on growing dwarf tomatoes.

Expanded solar panels

Thanks to SpaceX's 22nd commercial resupply mission in 2021, the ISS installed Roll-Out Solar Arrays. Headed to the ISS is the second of three packages to complete the panels that will increase power for the station by 20 to 30 percent. This technology was first tested in space in 2017 and is a key ingredient in future ISS and lunar development.

Construction innovation

Image via NASA.gov

Due to the difference of gravity — and lack thereof — astronauts have had to rethink constructing structures in space. Through a process called extrusion, liquid resin is used to create shapes and forms that cannot be created on Earth. Photocurable resin, which uses light to harden the material into its final form, is injected into pre-made flexible forms and a camera captures footage of the process, per the news release.

"The capability for using these forms could enable in-space construction of structures such as space stations, solar arrays, and equipment," reads the release. "The experiment is packed inside a Nanoracks Black Box with several other experiments from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Media Lab and is sponsored by the ISS National Lab."

Transition goggles

It's a bizarre transition to go from one gravity field to another — and one that can affect spatial orientation, head-eye and hand-eye coordination, balance, and locomotion, and cause some crew members to experience space motion sickness, according to the release.

"The Falcon Goggles hardware captures high-speed video of a subject’s eyes, providing precise data on ocular alignment and balance," reads the release.

On-demand nutrients

Image via NASA.gov

NASA is already thinking about long-term space missions, and vitamins, nutrients, and pharmaceuticals have limited shelf-life. The latest installment in the five-year BioNutrients program is BioNutrients-2 , which tests a system for producing key nutrients from yogurt, a fermented milk product known as kefir, and a yeast-based beverage, per the release.

"The researchers also are working to find efficient ways to use local resources to make bulk products such as plastics, construction binders, and feedstock chemicals. Such technologies are designed to reduce launch costs and increase self-sufficiency, extending the horizons of human exploration," reads the release.

3 Houston innovators to know this week

who's who

Editor's note: In this week's roundup of Houston innovators to know, I'm introducing you to three local innovators across industries — from esports to biomaterials — recently making headlines in Houston innovation.

Zimri Hinshaw, CEO of BUCHA BIO

Zimri T. Hinshaw, CEO of BUCHA BIO, joins the Houston Innovators Podcast to discuss how he's planning to scale his biomaterials startup to reduce plastic waste. Photo courtesy of BUCHA BIO

After raising a seed round of funding, BUCHA BIO is gearing up to move into its new facility. The biomaterials company was founded in New York City in 2020, but CEO Zimri T. Hinshaw shares how he started looking for a new headquarters for the company — one that was more affordable, had a solid talent pool, and offered a better quality of life for employees. He narrowed it down from over 20 cities to two — San Diego and Houston — before ultimately deciding on the Bayou City.

Since officially relocating, Hinshaw says he's fully committed to the city's innovation ecosystem. BUCHA BIO has a presence at the University of Houston, Greentown Labs, and the East End Maker Hub — where the startup is building out a new space to fit the growing team.

"By the end of this month, our laboratories will be up and running, we'll have office space adjacent, as well as chemical storage," Hinshaw says on the Houston Innovators Podcast. Listen to the episode and read more.

Kelly Klein, development director of Easter Seals Greater Houston

A nonprofit organization has rolled out an esports platform and event to raise awareness and funding for those with disabilities. Photo via Easter Seals

For many video games is getaway from reality, but for those with disabilities — thanks to a nonprofit organization —gaming can mean a lot more. On Saturday Dec. 3 — International Day of Persons with Disabilities — from 1 to 9 pm, Easter Seals Greater Houston will be joining forces with ES Gaming for the inaugural Game4Access Streamathon.

Gaming helps enhance cognitive skills, motor skills, improve mental well-being, and can help reduce feelings of social isolation due to the interactive nature of playing with others.

“This is really a unique way for (people) to form a community without having to leave their house, and being part of an inclusive environment,” says Kelly Klein, development director of Easter Seals Greater Houston. ”The adaptive equipment and specialized technology just does so many miraculous things for people with disabilities on so many levels — not just gaming. With gaming, it is an entrance into a whole new world.” Read more.

John Mooz, senior managing director at Hines

Levit Green has announced its latest to-be tenant. Photo courtesy

Levit Green, a 53-acre mixed-use life science district next to the Texas Medical Center and expected to deliver this year, has leased approximately 10,000 square feet of commercial lab and office space to Sino Biological Inc. The Bejing-based company is an international reagent supplier and service provider. Houston-based real estate investor, development, and property manager Hines announced the new lease in partnership with 2ML Real Estate Interests and Harrison Street.

“Levit Green was meticulously designed to provide best-in-class life science space that can accommodate a multitude of uses. Welcoming Sino Biological is a testament to the market need for sophisticated, flexible space that allows diversified firms to perform a variety of research,” says John Mooz, senior managing director at Hines, in a press release. “Sino is an excellent addition to the district’s growing life science ecosystem, and we look forward to supporting their continued growth and success.” Read more.Read more.