Leaders and researchers from the Texas Medical Center gathered for a roundtable discussion at the Bioscience Research Collaborative building at the Baylor College of Medicine on October 30th to discuss the barriers, challenges, and possibilities shaping translational research.
The informal meeting was hosted U.S. Representatives Michael Burgess, Gene Green, and Pete Olson, and was a part of the 21st Century Cures Initiative of the Energy and Commerce Committee of the U.S. House of Representatives.
Dr. Paul Klotman, president, CEO and executive dean at BCM, said in a press release: “Over the past several months, the Committee and its members have held dozens of hearings in Washington and roundtables across the country in support of this initiative. Their goal is to determine what steps Congress can take to ensure we are taking full advantage of the advances this country has made in science and technology and use these resources to keep America as the innovation capital of the world. We’re honored that the Committee has chosen to visit Houston and the Texas Medical Center to hear from us.”
In addition to Burgess, Green, and Olson, the panel included other key biotech influencers: Klotman and Dr. Richard Gibbs, Dr. Malcolm Brenner, Dr. Peter Hotez, and Dr. Jeffrey Sutton, all from Baylor College of Medicine; Dr. Bobby Robbins, TMC’s CEO, and Bill McKeon, also from TMC; Dr. Mauro Ferrari, Houston Methodist Research Institute; Dr. Thomas Kent, Michael E. DeBakey Veterans Affairs Medical Center; Dr. Kirstin Matthews, Rice University; and Dr. Jiajie Zhang, UT Health.
“Houston is home to cutting-edge research, innovation and models of care. As the bipartisan 21st Century Cures Initiative moves forward, it is critical that Houston’s healthcare leaders be part of the conversation. I am so pleased to have such experienced and dedicated scientists and health professionals participate in our roundtable, and I look forward to continuing this collaborative effort to bring our healthcare system in to the 21st Century,” said Green in the press release.
The discussion included the obstacles that research may have to overcome, and possibilities for future research projects. FDA regulations and institutions’ role in science and research was discussed as well, as was the need for new funding solutions to face reduced NIH funding and the importance of involving pharmaceutical companies in research and development.
“Healthcare innovation is growing at a breakneck speed and if our laws stand in the way of getting these innovations to the people who need them, everyone loses. America has long been a leader in medical breakthroughs and we want to keep it that way,” said Rep. Olsen. “That’s why our committee leadership asked us to go directly to the experts, the people in the labs, on the hospital floor, in the patient room and figure out where the gaps are so that government and our laws can help speed up cures rather than hinder them.”
As an innovative solution to developing new technologies in healthcare, the TMC Accelerator was mentioned by the panelists as an example for how to advance translational research. TMCx Accelerator offers life science and digital health entrepreneurs in a ecosystem based on collaboration that might speed transition of research into the market. It was applauded as an example of cooperation between healthcare institutions and government.