Measuring success by service — the Jesse Jones legacy
It would be difficult to overestimate the impact socially minded businessman Jesse H. Jones and his wife Mary Gibbs Jones had on Houston, not to mention the nation as a whole. Virtually no aspect of Houston’s civic life and the common good was untouched by their foresighted philanthropy, embodied in the 1937 creation of the Houston Endowment.
Almost six decades after Jesse Jones’ death, The Houston Endowment preserves that legacy in its self-described mission to support “institutions that produce and maximize enduring benefits for the people of Greater Houston.”
Among many ongoing contributions, The Endowment’s generous support of key programs at the Texas Heart Institute help ensure that the Jones legacy will continue to spur “enduring benefits” for some time to come.
In particular, we are grateful to Houston Endowment for grants that have made possible the recruitment of key scientists in the emerging field of regenerative medicine, which holds much promise for the future.
Dr. James F. Martin, a developmental biologist who joined THI in 2011, is doing important work that has identified genes that block the heart from generating new heart muscle cells in laboratory mice shortly after their birth. Figuring out the intricacies of how this inherent growth program works and how to safely "turn it back on" could lead to new therapies in which hearts damaged by heart attacks regenerate themselves.
Dr. Doris Taylor came to THI in 2012 as director of our regenerative medicine research programs. Her research includes: cell and gene therapy for treatment of cardiovascular disease; tissue engineering of bioartificial organs and vasculature; cell-based prevention of disease; stem cells and cancer; and holistic approaches to using cell therapy for treating chronic disease.
Most recently, Dr. Taylor and her team garnered international recognition for her work involving "whole organ decellularization," in which they showed they can remove the existing cells from hearts of laboratory animals and even humans to leave a framework for building new organs. By then repopulating the framework with another human adult stem cells and giving it a blood supply, the heart regenerates, taking on the characteristics and functions of a revitalized beating heart.
The hope is that this research is an early step toward being able to grow a fully functional human heart in the laboratory.
Only with Houston Endowment’s support have we been able to add these distinguished scientists to the THI team in cutting-edge area that is bright with promise.
“Success is measured by the service you render…” Jesse H. Jones famously said. In the effort to overcome cardiovascular disease, the Houston Endowment and the men and women who carry on the Jones legacy have indeed rendered invaluable service, for which everyone remains grateful.
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