In my 35 years as a professional in industry, academia, and the national government, my experience with the Brown Foundation stands out among all education-supportive philanthropic institutions that I have encountered. The commitment of its principals, Craig Brown and Sue Smith, to advancing excellence in education and productive careers is exceptional. They are creative thinkers and impassioned doers.
An example is their proposal to create and fund the forward-looking Early To EnMed program, known as E2EnMed. This identifies students among National Merit Scholars who exhibit great character, an outstanding achievement trajectory and want to pursue engineering and medicine. The Brown Foundation provides qualified students with a full TAMU undergraduate scholarship and subsequent graduate scholarship for our unique EnMed program in the Intercollegiate School of Engineering Medicine. Such students are supported through eight years of schooling, earning a BS (4 years), and simultaneous MD and Engineering Masters degrees (4years).
Perhaps most importantly, these stellar students promise to emerge as even more stellar medical innovators, taught to invent solutions to medical challenges. The overarching goal is to trailblaze the next generation of medical transformers and the Brown Foundation, through its incredible generosity and ardent devotion to a better future, is helping to lead the way.
- Roderick Pettigrew, PhD, MD – Chief Executive Officer of Engineering Health, Executive Dean of Engineering Medicine -
The Brown Foundation is an exemplar of all that is good in philanthropy and higher education. A visionary Foundation that values our Nation’s values and encourages the most successful high school students to reach for the stars… And in doing so help ensure a brighter future for all of humanity. I am proud to know Craig and Sue and humbled at the energy, passion, and purpose they bring to Texas A&M University. We are forever grateful and hope that their example encourages others to invest philanthropically in causes that create generational impact.
- Tyson Voelkel – President and CEO, Texas A&M Foundation -
The Brown Foundation has been granted 15 automatic acceptances for Brown Scholars to participate each summer in the Houston Methodist Summer Undergraduate Research Internship (“Internship”) at the Houston Methodist Research Institute (“HMRI”). The Internship is a highly competitive national program offering a unique 10-week research opportunity to approximately 50-55 students. Interns are paired with a faculty member, medical students, and post doc students in a lab focused on a single research project. Interns also attend weekly didactic lectures given by mentors, invited speakers and other leaders and participate in social networking events. The Brown Foundation provides a $3,500 scholarship to Brown Scholars who participate in the 10-week Internship. HMRI does not pay summer interns participating in the Internship. The following requirements and guidelines apply:
Brown Scholars may participate in a subsequent Internship to continue research intended for publication.
This summer, I am researching the mechanical and osteogenic properties of a mineralized collagen scaffold implant in Dr. Taraballi’s lab. The project involves stress testing, gait analysis, and quantifying bone regrowth in mice as well as analyzing the regenerative potential in the presence of chemotherapy. The ultimate translational goal is to help patients recover mobility and function after osteosarcoma.
This summer, I am working on researching nanomedicine applications under Dr. Biana Godin, aiming to improve therapeutic options in oncology. Specifically, our team is developing a nanotherapy aimed to disrupt the activity of a signaling pathway involved in tumor growth and metastasis in advanced ovarian cancer. My project involves the synthesis and characterization of nanoparticles that will be used for this purpose. They will be further tested for efficacy and optimized for delivery during various in vitro and in vivo studies. By taking a novel approach to cancer treatment using nanomedicine, this research has the potential to address the issue of chemotherapy resistance in advanced ovarian cancer and drastically improve outcomes for patients affected by this deadly malignancy.
I’m currently interning in Dr. Villapol’s neuro-regeneration lab where I’m working on a project studying liposome-based nanoparticles to deliver a promising anti-inflammatory drug (Dexamethasone) into the brain. Specifically in patients who have suffered a Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI), reducing inflammation prevents further neurodegeneration or even surgery and prohibits side effects. I have really enjoyed the unique experience of learning the technical skills from operating a microscope to slicing brains in a cryostat. Even with being here for a few weeks, I am integrated into the research team in every facet. It’s the perfect opportunity to test your interest in research, and the skills you gain are transferable to any field.
I’m working under Dr. Henry J. Pownall in the Atherosclerosis and Lipoprotein Research Lab in the Department of Bioenergetics. I complete research into the interactions between a novel bacterial protein called Serum Opacity Factor as it helps aid the clearance of excess cholesterol from the body in hopes of finding a viable therapy to combat athersclerotic cardiovascular disease. Specifically, I’m investigating the uptake of the protein’s byproducts in cells using fluorescence microscopy. I’m really enjoying my experience in the lab. It has cemented my interest and passion for research and I’m very glad I have been afforded this opportunity. Thank you for making this possible.
I am in Dr. Weng’s Neuroregeneration Lab. They are wanting to find therapeutic approaches to treat stroke and neurodegenerative diseases. We are looking at the role of m6A RNA methylation in regulating RNA translation to synthesize proteins. I am doing data analysis of information from various human cell lines to see if there is a correlation between RNA-seq data and the binding of a specific protein throughout the genome. I will identify what region of DNA this protein is binding to and see if it attaches to any specific sequences. Ideally this could be used to create a program that could predict levels of gene expression based on genetic variations in an individual.
I have been enjoying the experience so far and Dr. Weng has been great at focusing on exposing me to skills that will be beneficial in my future classes and career. I was initially disappointed because I thought I would be spending more time conducting experiments than coding, but the people in my lab have been incredibly flexible and willing to compromise so I can do a bit of both.
During my internship at the Houston Methodist Research Institute, I worked under Dr. Zheng Li in the Radiochemistry Laboratory. My project focuses on the applications of cell-derived vesicles for targeted tumor treatment. Through this internship, I have learned how to aseptically culture cells, transfect cells to introduce recombinant plasmid DNA, use a fluorescent microscope, and analyze data through software such as ImageJ and Prism. Additionally, I have learned how the PD-1/PD-L1 pathway relates to immunotherapy and how radiolabeling and PET imaging are used to study the pharmacokinetics of drugs. By introducing me to the daily life of professional researchers and the early-stage development of cancer treatment, this internship has helped me better understand the structure of the medical field and my interests within it.
This summer, I had the opportunity to work with Dr. Dimitry G. Sayenko in his neuromodulation and recovery lab. Spinal cord injury (SCI) is one of the leading causes of paraplegia and tetraplegia. Individuals with SCI often have loss of function and sensation below the injury site along with spasticity and chronic pain.
Transcutaneous spinal cord stimulation(TSS) is a form of non-invasive electrical stimulation delivered to the spinal cord. Research has shown that TSS can restore functionality of disconnected spinal networks. Another form of non-invasive stimulation is neuromuscular electrical stimulation (NMES), which directly stimulates the muscle and causes artificial contraction. However, TSS and NMES alone do not always promote enough force to generate full-weight bearing standing and walking movements.
We hypothesized that pairing TSS with functional electrical stimulation (FES) will work synergistically to produce greater force in the lower extremities and restore full weight-bearing standing.
However, the timing between the two stimulation pulses is important for optimal synergy. Five neurologically intact subjects participated in the experiment. Using 15 Hz TSS applied over the lumbar spinal cord and 15 Hz FES applied at plantar flexors, as well as at knee extensors and flexors, at various interstimulus intervals (0 ms, 33 ms, 66 ms, 99 ms, 135 ms, 201 ms), we evaluated the force generated by the studied muscles. The combination of TSS and FES results in a greater muscle force production than an individual stimulation approach. The largest force appears to be generated when TSS and FES are evenly spaced, that is 33 ms apart.The combination of TSS and FES results in synergistic effects which can be applied to regain self-assisted full body weight-bearing standing in individuals with SCI.
I fell in love with clinical research through Dr. Sayenko’s lab and the SURI program. I could not be more grateful for the invaluable experience I had this summer!
Shruti Mavuri, a junior majoring in Biomedical Science and Adil Basha, a sophomore majoring in Biology were 2 of the 3 poster presentation award winners announced at the 2021 MAPTA Summer Science Symposium at Houston Methodist Hospital.