HOUSTON – Gov. Rick Perry today announced a $3 million investment through the Texas Emerging Technology Fund (TETF) to create the Center for Cell and Organ Biotechnology in collaboration with the Texas Heart Institute (THI) and Texas A&M University College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences.
“This center represents another step toward making Texas the forefront of biotechnology for generations to come,” Gov. Perry said. “The investment is all a part of the culture of creation we’ve nurtured in Texas, built upon the concept that if you give bright and visionary people the freedom to innovate and pursue their dreams, good things will happen. I could not be prouder that this life-affirming research will be conducted here in our state, and I can’t wait to see it put into action.”
The College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences is home to the Michael E. DeBakey Institute for Cardiovascular Sciences. The institute is known as a leader in biomedical research programs in vascular studies and cardiovascular devices, making it a natural fit for the partnership.
In the U.S. alone, one in three individuals suffer from some form of cardiovascular disease and more than one million die from end-stage organ failure each year. The new center will take a multi-faceted approach to chronic disease for both human and veterinary health care, based on cell and organ failure. It will be led by Dr. Doris Taylor, director of Regenerative Medicine Research at THI and will include scientists, engineers, physicians, veterinarians and business managers from both THI and the University.
“Dr. Taylor is certainly one of the stars in the adult human stem cell field, and we feel extremely fortunate to have her at the Texas Heart Institute,” said Dr. James T. Willerson, president and medical director at THI. “With the work already underway at Texas A&M, Dr. Taylor will be able to draw from expertise at both institutions to position the Center for Cell and Organ Biotechnology as a world leader in adult stem cell research, organ transplantation, and personalized medicine.”
“We are grateful to Governor Rick Perry and the State of Texas for the vision to create the TETF, which is rightfully the envy of many,” said Dr. Eleanor Green, Dean of the College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences. “It was clear from the beginning that this partnership between two highly regarded institutions and the State of Texas was special. We know that the health of animals and people is inextricably linked and this unique center will advance both human and animal health. Texas A&M veterinary students, medical students, undergraduate students, graduate students in biomedical sciences and other students from the Texas Medical Center and beyond will benefit from participating in the use of advanced stem cell technologies to advance the research of cardiovascular science, personalized medicine, organ replacement, regeneration and repair, and more. There are many others to thank for their support, including Chancellor John Sharp and President Bowen Loftin.”
Gov. Perry is committed to enhancing the quality of the Texas higher education system and enhancing its research potential through the TETF by attracting world class researchers to institutions in the state. This provides a dynamic environment for graduate and doctorate students, while building a culture of commercialization for research projects.
The TETF is a $200 million initiative created by the Texas Legislature in 2005 at the governor's request, and reauthorized in 2007, 2009, 2011 and 2013. A 17-member advisory committee of high-tech leaders, entrepreneurs and research experts reviews potential projects and recommends funding allocations to the governor, Lieutenant Governor and Speaker of the House. To date, the TETF has allocated more than $203 million in funds to 142 early stage companies, and over $216 million in grant matching and research superiority funds to Texas universities. Additionally, since the inception of the TETF, more than $1.67 billion in additional investment from other non-state sources has followed on to the TETF investment, more than quadrupling the amount invested by the TETF.