The Houston Technology Center, a non-profit business accelerator, honored this year’s outstanding Texas biotech pioneers and Houston-area entrepreneurs at its annual gala, held last week at the Hyatt Regency in Houston.
“A Celebration of Entrepeneurs,” the organization’s annual event, highlights local entrepreneurship, leaders, and companies that the Houston Technology Center recognizes as having a substantial impact in the region’s economy and in the development of innovative technologies.
This year’s ceremony honored two distinguished Texas biotech pioneers with Lifetime Achievement Awards. In the category of Life Sciences, Dr. James “Red” Duke, Professor of Surgery and the John B. Holmes Professor of Clinical Sciences at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth) was honored for his illustrious research career, while in the Nanotechnology category, the HTC chose Dr. Robert Curl, Professor Emeritus at Rice University.
Both men have dedicated their careers to different areas of science and medicine and their achievements have impacted not only the scientific community, but the general public as well.
James “Red” Duke is a laureate trauma surgeon with a Texas pedigree. He earned his Bachelor of Science at Texas A&M and attended UT Southwestern for his medical degree. He is one of the founders of the American Trauma Society and was named “Surgeon of the Year” in 1988 by the James F. Mitchell Foundation. He is the medical director for trauma and emergency services at the Houston’s Hermann Hospital Life Flight.
His career is also well-recognized by many people in the U.S. who are familiar with his popular health-oriented TV show, “Dr. Red Duke’s Health Reports.” His recognition among the science community made possible the creation of a scholarship in his honor in the Houston Department of Surgery at University of Texas-Houston.
Robert Curl, the award-winner for nanotechnology has dedicated part of his professional life to the study and creation of fullerenes, carbon compounds that can be used in several areas of science and medicine. The discovery of an ideal fullerenes production process earned him, along with Harold Kroto and Richard Smalley, the Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 1996.
This discovery has also made an impact in other areas of science and medicine as well. Nanotechnology and nanoparticules such as fullerenes have been of major importance in recent Texas-based research on cancer, particularly in the discovery of new treatments and therapies.
In the category of Aerospace, HTC awarded Dr. Bernard Harris, CEO and Managing Director of Vesalius Ventures. For Information Technology, the institution named Dr. Morrie Abramson, president of Morrie K. Abramson Interests, Inc.
At this year’s ceremony, the HTC also distinguished Raymond Plank, founder and retired chairman of Apache Corporation for his entrepreneurial spirit, which led the company into one of the most respected and successful oil and gas companies in the country.