Celebrating the Spirit of Innovation at the Texas Heart Institute
By Shanley Chien | Texas Medical Center | February 8, 2016
The Texas Heart Institute hosted Thursday its inaugural Celebration of Innovation in collaboration with the Center for Houston’s Future and Houston Technology Center.
Approximately 100 guests from various industries — including energy, legal, investment, medical research and financial services — attended the full-day event that gave them a unique, behind-the-scenes look at the medical research and innovations pioneered at the Texas Heart Institute.
“Today’s event is so important and it’s because we are showcasing and highlighting the most major innovations that are experienced in the medical field — historically, now in the present and also ongoing in the future,” said Maryanne Maldonado, vice president and chief operating officer of the Houston Technology Center. “It’s important that we bring these innovations to light so that the community is aware that they can come to a facility such as the Texas Heart Institute, receive exceptional care […] and also to support the organizations that are promoting innovations in this community.”
Attendees first toured the Wallace D. Wilson Museum, where they perused the Celebration of Hearts art collection and learned about the evolution of medical devices and technology — such as perfusion machines and pacemakers — throughout recent history.
“Today we really wanted to give the attendees the opportunity to see a lot of the different stages of development of technologies and what we do here at the Texas Heart Institute,” said Keri Kimler, special assistant of Regenerative Medicine Research and Center for Women’s Heart and Vascular Health at the Texas Heart Institute.
After the museum tour, attendees were taken to the Cullen Cardiovascular Research Laboratories to get a deeper understanding of the approaches and processes that allow doctors to develop new treatments and devices. They also had the rare opportunity to visit the institute’s two surgical domes where they witnessed a live open heart surgery on a patient, as well as the basic science and translational laboratories to learn more about the work Texas Heart Institute doctors are doing in molecular cardiology and regenerative medicine.
An event and discussion of innovation at the institute would not be complete without a special keynote presentation by William E. Cohn, M.D., director of the Center for Technology and Innovation, associate director of Laboratory Surgery Research at the Center for Cardiac Support and director of the Cullen Cardiovascular Research Laboratory at the Texas Heart Institute. Cohn, a prolific medical device inventor who started creating devices in his garage, currently holds more than 90 granted or pending patents in the U.S. and an additional 60 patents internationally.
“I think it’s really important that we talk about innovation and that we get others engaged in it because innovation is a group sport. It takes a lot of people. It takes community support, it takes money, it takes vision,” Cohn said. “Actually having an event dedicated to that, to spreading that enthusiasm and passion and getting people involved, is key. There is nothing that we have done here that could have been done with just one or two people, so this type of thing — getting Houston leaders involved — is critical.”
Cohn shared stories about his previous inventions and what inspired his penchant for creating new devices, but — more importantly — he discussed the major components of cultivating an innovative culture in the medical industry and beyond.
“[It] excites me to meet Houston leaders and […] a group of people interested in innovation who want to hear my vision, discuss it, socialize it and get excited about it. I live for these type of opportunities,” Cohn said.
Although February is Heart Month, the three organizations plan to continue their collaborations beyond this month to encourage and promote a healthier community.
“[We] have been pleased to promote this wonderful celebration of innovation, and we look forward to ongoing partnerships in the future so that we can continue to promote what this incredible facility is doing and create healthy hearts for all of us,” Maldonado said.
“I think collaboration is a keyword these days. We are all working basically for the same purpose and that is to make […] our city a better place to live, a better place to work,” added Catherine Mosbacher, president and chief executive officer of the Center for Houston’s Future. “Houston Technology Center, Center for Houston’s Future and the Texas Heart Institute all have a similar mission. We’re all working on the health and prosperity of our region.”
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