Changing the world

Houston Medical Center rising as a global health hub: New star doc & programs gain UN notice

Houston Medical Center rising as a global health hub: New star doc & programs gain UN notice

Peter Hotez & Clinton
Peter Hotez is enough of a medical superstar that Bill Clinton knows him by his first name. Now, he calls the Texas Medical Center home.
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Peter Hotez & Clinton
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Whether it's a cancer breakthrough or the rehabilitation of a congresswoman shot on the job, the Texas Medical Center has a high national profile across nearly every advanced medical discipline. But with prestigious new programs and doctors setting up here, Houston is also making a name for itself in the world of global health initiatives, according to the United Nations Dispatch.

Where global health initiatives are concerned, Houston and Baylor College of Medicine have been home to the highly regarded Baylor International Pediatric AIDS Initiative since 1996. With a network of clinics and satellite centers across Africa and Eastern Europe, BIPAI provides HIV/AIDS treatment for 80,000 children worldwide, more than any other program.

But that's just the beginning. This summer BCM and Texas Children's Hospital landed a coup when they recruited Dr. Peter Hotez, an expert in tropical and neglected diseases described by the Dispatch as "an international health force of nature." Hotez joined the staff at both hospitals on Aug. 1 and is serving as founding dean of the new National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine, the first program of its kind in the United States.

“Dr. Peter Hotez is an iconic figure in neglected tropical diseases and vaccine development,” Baylor CEO and president Dr. Paul Klotman said in announcing Hotez's hiring. “His work has impacted millions of the world’s poorest people. With his leadership in these new programs at Baylor and Texas Children’s, our commitment to global medicine is accelerated to the top tier of academic institutions. He is truly a remarkable leader.”

 This summer BCM and Texas Children's Hospital landed a coup when they recruited Dr. Peter Hotez, an expert in tropical and neglected diseases described by the Dispatch as "an international health force of nature." 

Dr. Hotez brings with him his nonprofit, the Sabin Vaccine Institute, which relocated its vaccine development program and 20 researchers to Houston (specifically to Texas Children's Feigin Center) from Washington, D.C. In Houston, the institute will be working on the first-ever hookworm disease vaccine.

Baylor and Texas Children's also announced earlier this year that the programs are founding a Texas Children's Center for Global Health. Led by renowned researcher Dr. Russell E. Ware, the program will focus on underserved populations to "address major causes of child morbidity and mortality globally. It will also provide screening, treatment and education to positively impact critical global health issues affecting children such as sickle cell disease, malaria, tuberculosis, malnutrition and cancer." The program's first initiative will be to screen and treat children for sickle cell anemia in Luanda, Angola.

As the United Nations Dispatch points out, it's not just that Texas Medical Center programs are changing to match global health initiatives. The discipline of global health is also increasingly focused on many noncommunicable diseases that the medical center specializes in — as demonstrated by the first-ever U.N. high level meeting on noncommunicable diseases in September.

For this and many other areas of global health, many will continue to look to Houston as a leader.

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