About the Grant Program

The TMC Health Policy Institute has awarded $2 million in grants since 2016 to support policy research among the Texas Medical Center’s 59 institutions. Learn more.

Texas Medical Center Announces Winners Of 2018-2019 Health Policy Grants

The Texas Medical Center Health Policy Institute announced the winners of its 2018-2019 policy grants on Monday, Jan. 28, 2018. The grantees, which come from institutions across the TMC, are charged with pursuing research that spurs innovation and improves public health policy in Texas and beyond. Read more about the winners below, and click each for more information.

Addressing the Needs of Children of Incarcerated Parents

A child can suffer wide-ranging, lifelong impacts when his or her parent is jailed, yet there is relatively little understanding today of how best to address those kids’ unique needs. The Texas Medical Center Health Policy Institute is providing $94,784 to help local leaders determine the best ways to support children whose parents are incarcerated.

“Right now, virtually nothing is known about how we can help these children,” said Christopher Greeley, MD, the project’s principal investigator, who is vice chair of community health at Baylor College of Medicine’s pediatrics department and chief of public health pediatrics at Texas Children’s Hospital.

Baylor College of Medicine, Texas Children’s Hospital, the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston and the Harris County Sheriff’s Office are working together on the research. Researchers hope to add questions to the jail intake form that will ask inmates about their children and the support they need. Researchers also plan on conducting interviews with inmates, as well as the people who take care of their children, to find out about the kids’ needs. (More information)

Implementing Telemedicine For Children with Complex Medical Conditions

The UT Physicians High Risk Children’s Clinic (HRCC) seeks to solve a major logistical challenge: Often, kids with the most complicated medical conditions have the hardest time getting to the doctor for treatment.

The Texas Medical Center Health Policy Institute is providing $106,753 to support a new telemedicine and home visitation program that doctors hope will improve their ability to treat children with complex medical conditions while also saving money.

The unique clinic treats patients with conditions including cerebral palsy, cystic fibrosis and Down syndrome, among other conditions. But parents often have a hard time getting to the clinic, since it may involve a long commute, missing work, or the logistics of preparing medical equipment for travel. Time spent inside a clinic or hospital also increases the risk that patients can acquire life-threatening infections.

Under the telemedicine initiative, the clinic will attempt to triage and/or diagnose patients via video calls, eliminating the need for complicated and potentially dangerous transportation. “The families who’ve tried it already love it,” said Ricardo A. Mosquera, MD, medical director of the clinic. “They keep sending us videos.” UTHealth, Baylor College of Medicine, Memorial Hermann Health System, Children’s Memorial Hermann Hospital and the Cizik School of Nursing at UTHealth are participating in the study.  (More information)

Developing a Warning System For Dangerous, Drug-Resistant Fungus

The Texas Medical Center will provide $203,785 to support the development of an “early warning system” that could detect whether a dangerous, drug-resistant strain of fungus exists in area hospitals.

The project targets a dangerous yeast called Candida auris, which first appeared in the U.S. in 2016. The yeast doesn’t respond to commonly used antifungal drugs, and 30 to 60 percent of patients infected with C. auris have died.  As of Oct. 31, the CDC has confirmed 157 cases in the U.S. but none in Texas.

The grant supports the work of a team led by Kevin Garey, PharmD, FASHP, professor of pharmacy practice at University of Houston, to establish a system to conduct real-time monitoring that would detect whether the yeast exists in area hospitals.

“The problem with C. auris is we have a hard time diagnosing it, and by the time we actually diagnose it, many patients will have died,” Garey said. “If we could proactively look for it, that would be a game changer. University of Houston, Texas A&M Health Science Center, University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston, Memorial Hermann Health System and CHI St. Luke’s Health are participating in the study. (More information)

Creating a Powerful New Tool For Policymakers

Policymakers often face a challenging dilemma: They want to make smart choices, but they’re overwhelmed with information. The Texas Medical Center Health Policy Institute is providing $94,678 to support the development of a new tool that will help policymakers gauge the impact of their decisions on the health of their communities.

The project aims to assist policymakers as they evaluate how policies often considered outside the realm of public health nonetheless impact the health of residents. For example, it could be used to help policymakers decide where to direct investment in roads or schools, said John Prochaska, DrPH, assistant professor of preventive medicine and community health at The University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston, who is leading the project.

An early iteration of the tool was developed to provide guidance on the best places to build public housing in Galveston in the wake of 2008’s Hurricane Ike. Researchers will initially use the tool in the seven-county area surrounding Bryan-College Station but eventually believe it can be used in any Texas community. Texas A&M University Health Science Center and University of Houston are also participating in the study. (More information)

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Christopher Greeley

Baylor College of Medicine

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Ricardo Mosquera

THE UNIVERSITY OF TEXAS HEALTH SCIENCE CENTER AT HOUSTON

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Kevin Garey

University of Houston

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John Prochaska

THE UNIVERSITY OF TEXAS MEDICAL BRANCH AT GALVESTON (UTMB)

2017-2018 Research Initiatives

Improving Vaccination Rates within the Houston Independent School District: Closing the Vaccination Gap

The project will study the vaccination rates of pre-kindergarten and kindergarten children across eight low-performing Houston schools and identify effective methods for improving low vaccination rates.

Susan Wootton, M.D., associate professor of pediatric infectious diseases at the Center for Clinical Research and Evidence-Based Medicine at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth) McGovern Medical School, will collaborate with the UTHealth School of Public Health, UTHealth School of Nursing, Baylor College of Medicine and the City of Houston Department of Health and Human Services.

Developing a Multi-Institutional Collaborative Policy for Zika

Researchers will study the recent rise of Zika by identifying areas in the health care system that impede testing, caring for and advising patients about Zika. Based on their findings, they will develop policy proposals for more effective Zika response throughout the TMC, the City of Houston and Harris County.

Stephanie Morain, Ph.D., assistant professor of medical ethics and health policy at Baylor College of Medicine, will be joined by experts from Texas Children’s Hospital, UTHealth and Ben Taub General Hospital-Harris Health System.

Go, Slow, Whoa! Utilizing a Food Labeling System to Make “Healthy” the Easy Choice

This initiative aims to promote healthier food choices by working with 10 local corner stores to implement a simple yet effective red-yellow-green nutritional labeling system. The project seeks to address the education gap in nutrition in minority groups and low-income communities.

E. Lisako J. McKyer, Ph.D., associate professor and associate dean of Texas A&M Health Science Center School of Public Health, will partner with researchers from Baylor College of Medicine and Texas Southern University College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences.

Policies and Practices Addressing Medical and Mental Health Needs for Children in Foster Care

The project will examine the medical and mental health of children in the greater Houston area foster care system, and evaluate the policies that affect their care. Researchers will use their research to provide recommendations that can improve long-term outcomes.

Christopher Greeley, M.D., professor of pediatrics at Baylor College of Medicine, will partner with researchers from UTHealth McGovern Medical School, Texas Children’s Hospital and Rice University.

 

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Susan Wootton

THE UNIVERSITY OF TEXAS HEALTH SCIENCE CENTER AT HOUSTON

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Stephanie Morain

BAYLOR COLLEGE OF MEDICINE

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E. Lisako J. McKyer

Texas A&M Health Science Center

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Christopher Greeley

BAYLOR COLLEGE OF MEDICINE

2016-2017 Research Initiatives

Increasing Health Care Access for At-Risk Populations: Research-Based Policies for Mobile Health Clinics
Rigoberto Delgado, PI, UT-SPH, collaborators: University of Houston, MD Anderson Cancer Center, University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston, and Texas Children’s Hospital

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Tracking Implications of Freestanding Emergency Departments for Texans
Vivian Ho, PI, Rice University, collaborators: University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston School of Public Health, Baylor College of Medicine, Michael E. DeBakey Veterans Affairs Medical Center

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Policies, Practices and Structures Impacting the Health and Care Access of Refugee Children
Kenneth Smith, PI, University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston, collaborators: University of Houston, Texas Children’s Hospital, Baylor College of Medicine

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The TEXAS Project: Transitions Explored and Studied: Leveraging Data to Prevent Readmissions in the TMC
Robert Phillips, PI, Houston Methodist, collaborators: MD Anderson Cancer Center, Baylor College of Medicine, CHI-ST. Luke’s Health, Texas A&M Health Science Center

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Rigoberto Delgado

The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston

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Vivian Ho

Rice University

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Kenneth Smith

The University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston (UTMB)

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Robert Phillips

Houston Methodist

More Information

The TMC Grant Program in Collaborative Health Policy Research unites multiple perspectives to support innovative approaches to health policy. By enabling TMC’s leading policy researchers to share insights in a new way, the grant program integrates diverse expertise from multiple institutions.

Each research team includes collaborators from three or more TMC organizations working together for the first time. In addition, the team’s one-year project must promise results that benefit the health of Texas in the near future.

Current grant recipients are exploring policies related to at-risk populations, reducing readmissions, freestanding emergency departments and improving treatment of refugee children. Drawing on one another’s strengths and the resources of the Texas Medical Center, these teams are working to not only enhance policies but also improve the lives of the people they touch.