UT-TIRR Merger

Two organizations in the Texas Medical Center are signing a merger to create a research institute that will be focused on rehabilitation. Houston Public Radio's Laurie Johnson reports.

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The UT Health Science Center and The Institute for Rehabilitation and Research, or TIRR, signed an agreement to launch a fundraising campaign and develop a research and education initiative. The two organizations will collaborate to increase research in five areas of brain injury, spinal cord injury, independent living, neuromuscular disease and adaptive technologies. UT Health Science Center President Dr. James Willerson.

"Spinal cord injuries, degenerative brain disease like Alzheimer's disease, strokes require better therapies than we have right now. And they'll require things like stem cells in the future and other kinds of new treatments that will help people recover quickly and well from those devastating injuries. And that's what we have in mind in linking the TIRR and University of Texas names creates a very powerful combination."

The Health Science Center and TIRR plan to launch a campaign to raise $12.5 million. The money will fund a joint research institute in the Texas Medical Center. TIRR Systems Chairman Allan Shivers says TIRR is known for patient care and rehabilitation and the collaboration with UT will help them advance their ideas out of the classroom and into the hospital setting.

"We never talk about cure in this business because cure is not something that's really on the horizon that you want to hold out a false hope. But vast improvement in the quality of life and in the outcome."

TIRR already has research affiliation with Baylor College of Medicine and next month the organization will merge services with Memorial Hermann Hospital. Willerson says years ago the Texas Medical Center was founded on competition, but now it's about collaboration.

"We do want to collaborate with scientists throughout the medical center, especially to continue the collaborations with the scientists at Baylor College of Medicine. But also others at M.D. Anderson and Rice, University of Houston, Texas Children's, trying to have a collaboration that will help address these problems and lead to better lives for humans that have these devastating occurances."

The research and education merger between UT and TIRR is effective through 2015. Laurie Johnson Houston Public Radio News.

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