It includes a medical school, Baylor College of Medicine; the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences; the School of Allied Health Sciences; and the National School of Tropical Medicine. The school, located in the middle of the world’s largest medical center, is part owner of Baylor St. Luke’s Medical Center, part of the CHI St. Luke’s Health system, and has hospital affiliations with: Harris Health System, Texas Children’s Hospital, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Memorial Hermann – The Institute for Rehabilitation and Research, Menninger Clinic, the Michael E. DeBakey Veterans Affairs Medical Center and Children’s Hospital of San Antonio.
The medical school has been consistently considered in the top-tier of programs in the country, and is particularly noted for having the lowest tuition among all private medical schools in the US. Its Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences is among the top 30 graduate schools in the United States. Within the School of Allied Health Sciences, the nurse anesthesia ranks 5th (U.S. News & World Report) and the physician assistant program ranks 6th. A program in Orthotics and Prosthetics began in 2013, with 18 students in the first class. The National School of Tropical Medicine is the only school in the nation dedicated exclusively to patient care, research, education and policy related to neglected tropical diseases.
On June 21, 2010, Dr. Paul Klotman was named as the new President and CEO of the Baylor College of Medicine. In January 2014, the College and CHI St. Luke’s became joint owners of Baylor St. Luke’s Medical Center.
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Rice team’s mobile container can sterilize surgical instruments in low-resource settings Rice University students and their mentors have created a sterilization station for surgical instruments that can help minimize risk of infections to patients anywhere in the world.
The station built into a standard 20-foot steel shipping container houses all the equipment necessary to prepare surgical instruments for safe reuse, including a water system for decontamination and a solar-powered autoclave for steam sterilization.
They reported the system’s performance was nearly perfect over 61 trials in 2015 to sterilize and prepare a set of instruments for return to the operating room.
Farmers can use fewer resources to grow food
With the world’s population exploding to well over 7 billion, feeding the human race is getting even more challenging. Increasing the yield from crops such as wheat, maize, rice and barley, is paramount to growing enough food.
In addition, crop production is now affected by stressors such as drought, climate change and the salinization of fields — presenting obstacles to our future food supply.
Researchers with Arizona State University’s School of Life Sciences, University of Arizona, University of North Texas and with the USDA/ARS Children’s Nutrition Research Center, Baylor College of Medicine, have discovered a way to enhance a plant’s tolerance to stress, which in turn improves how it uses water and nutrients from the soil. These improvements increase plant biomass and yield.
The study’s findings are published in the scientific journal Trends in Biotechnology.
Associate professor Roberto Gaxiola with ASU School of Life Sciences said this discovery could be instrumental in agriculture and food security by improving crop sustainability and performance.
“‘We have learned how to modify the expression of a gene that codes for a plant proton pump,” said Gaxiola, lead author of the study. “This gene helps to move photosynthates — or molecules made by photosynthesis in the leaves — to the places plants need them in order to grow better roots, fruits, young leaves and seeds. This gene is called type 1 H+-PPase and is found naturally in all plants.”
Current agricultural methods often overuse fertilizer, causing environmental problems by polluting water with phosphates and creating dead zones in oceans downstream. Over-fertilization can also cause plants to have small roots — something that was not anticipated when fertilizers were developed in the early 1900s.
By changing how effectively a plant uses water and nutrients, famers would be able to use fewer resources to grow their crops.
“Larger roots allow plants to more efficiently acquire both nutrients and water. We can optimize inputs while minimizing environmental impacts. This is advantageous for our environment and for all consumers,” said Gaxiola.
Altering the expression of this gene in rice, corn, barley, wheat, tomato, lettuce, cotton and finger millet caused better growth in roots and shoots, and also improve how the plants absorbed nutrients. These crops also saw improved water use and tolerance to salt. In finger millet, researchers also discovered an increase in antioxidants, but further studies would be needed to know whether this is the case with other crops as well.
Rice-led study shows how particles quench damaging superoxides
Injectable nanoparticles that could protect an injured person from further damage due to oxidative stress have proven to be astoundingly effective in tests to study their mechanism.
Scientists at Rice University, Baylor College of Medicine and the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth) Medical School designed methods to validate their 2012 discovery that combined polyethylene glycol-hydrophilic carbon clusters — known as PEG-HCCs — could quickly stem the process of overoxidation that can cause damage in the minutes and hours after an injury.
The tests revealed a single nanoparticle can quickly catalyze the neutralization of thousands of damaging reactive oxygen species molecules that are overexpressed by the body’s cells in response to an injury and turn the molecules into oxygen. These reactive species can damage cells and cause mutations, but PEG-HCCs appear to have an enormous capacity to turn them into less-reactive substances.
The researchers hope an injection of PEG-HCCs as soon as possible after an injury, such as traumatic brain injury or stroke, can mitigate further brain damage by restoring normal oxygen levels to the brain’s sensitive circulatory system.
The results were reported today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
“Effectively, they bring the level of reactive oxygen species back to normal almost instantly,” said Rice chemist James Tour. “This could be a useful tool for emergency responders who need to quickly stabilize an accident or heart attack victim or to treat soldiers in the field of battle.” Tour led the new study with neurologist Thomas Kent of Baylor College of Medicine and biochemist Ah-Lim Tsai of UTHealth.
PEG-HCCs are about 3 nanometers wide and 30 to 40 nanometers long and contain from 2,000 to 5,000 carbon atoms. In tests, an individual PEG-HCC nanoparticle can catalyze the conversion of 20,000 to a million reactive oxygen species molecules per second into molecular oxygen, which damaged tissues need, and hydrogen peroxide while quenching reactive intermediates.
Tour and Kent led the earlier research that determined an infusion of nontoxic PEG-HCCs may quickly stabilize blood flow in the brain and protect against reactive oxygen species molecules overexpressed by cells during a medical trauma, especially when accompanied by massive blood loss.
Their research targeted traumatic brain injuries, after which cells release an excessive amount of the reactive oxygen species known as a superoxide into the blood. These toxic free radicals are molecules with one unpaired electron that the immune system uses to kill invading microorganisms. In small concentrations, they contribute to a cell’s normal energy regulation. Generally, they are kept in check by superoxide dismutase, an enzyme that neutralizes superoxides.
But even mild traumas can release enough superoxides to overwhelm the brain’s natural defenses. In turn, superoxides can form such other reactive oxygen species as peroxynitrite that cause further damage.
“The current research shows PEG-HCCs work catalytically, extremely rapidly and with an enormous capacity to neutralize thousands upon thousands of the deleterious molecules, particularly superoxide and hydroxyl radicals that destroy normal tissue when left unregulated,” Tour said.
“This will be important not only in traumatic brain injury and stroke treatment, but for many acute injuries of any organ or tissue and in medical procedures such as organ transplantation,” he said. “Anytime tissue is stressed and thereby oxygen-starved, superoxide can form to further attack the surrounding good tissue.”
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