Baylor College of Medicine receives $30 million lead gift for bold expansion plans
Baylor College of Medicine celebrated its new Lillie and Roy Cullen Tower, an innovative, collaborative space for medical education and research scheduled to open in 2026, at an event Wednesday, May 24. The Cullen Foundation, The Cullen Trust for Health Care and The Cullen Trust for Higher Education contributed a combined total of $30 million to build the new Cullen Tower, creating one of the largest combined gifts in their legacy of philanthropy.
“The Cullen Trust for Health Care is very honored to support this building along with The Cullen Foundation and The Cullen Trust for Higher Education,” said Cullen Geiselman Muse, Ph.D., chair of The Cullen Trust for Health Care. “We cannot wait to see what new beginnings will come from inside the Lillie and Roy Cullen Tower.”
To date, gifts to the Cullen Tower total $100 million, more than 65% of Baylor’s $150 million philanthropic goal for the project. Additional lead gifts include $12 million from the DeBakey Medical Foundation, $10 million from the Huffington Foundation and more than $45 million total from members of Baylor’s Board of Trustees and other community donors, including the M.D. Anderson Foundation, the Albert and Margaret Alkek Foundation, Maire and David Baldwin, Polly and Murry Bowden, Ronda and Greg Brenneman, The Elkins Foundation, Claudia and Fred Lummis and Jeri and Marc Shapiro.
The 503,000-square-foot Lillie and Roy Cullen Tower is the first phase of Baylor’s planned Health Sciences Park, an 800,000-square-foot project that will integrate medical education and research in a collaborative environment right next to patient care at Baylor Medicine and Baylor St. Luke’s Medical Center on the McNair Campus, allowing trainees to enhance their classroom learning with experience in the lab and the clinic. The campus is adjacent to Texas Medical Center’s Helix Park, a 37-acre project that will support a collaborative mix of healthcare, life sciences and business. Baylor is the anchor tenant in the first building being constructed in Helix Park.
“To really change the future of health, we need a space that facilitates the future,” said Baylor President, CEO and Executive Dean Paul Klotman, M.D. “We need to have a great building to recruit great talent. Having a place where our clinical programs are located, where our data scientists are, next to a biotech development center, and having our medical students all integrated into that environment will allow them to be ready in the future for where healthcare is going.”
The Lillie and Roy Cullen Tower will augment Baylor’s curriculum with state-of-the art educational space, including small-group and studio classrooms designed to facilitate active learning; large-capacity, high-tech theater-style event space; and a state-of-the-art anatomy lab, teaching labs and a simulation center that provide immersive, hands-on learning before students conduct clinical rotations. In addition, innovative research space will focus on big data analytics that are vital to scientific breakthroughs. Bob Pulito, principal with the firm SLAM and lead project architect, noted that future-proof designs of classrooms and hospital simulation rooms are coupled with social learning spaces like the courtyard, enabling the next generation of healthcare leaders to exchange their knowledge, skills and ideas.
The Cullen family’s support of the new building continues their legacy of strengthening education, research and patient care at Baylor, one of the nation’s top-ranked medical training sites. They are joined by other key historical partners, including the M.D. Anderson Foundation, whose recent commitment to the building brought Baylor to the $100 million milestone of its fundraising goal for the Cullen Tower. In the 1940s, Lillie and Roy Cullen and the M.D. Anderson Foundation were instrumental in establishing the Texas Medical Center, bringing Baylor to Houston and funding Baylor’s first permanent education building, the Roy and Lillie Cullen Building, which was designated as a Recorded Texas Historic Landmark in 2015.
“Baylor is the place it is today because of philanthropy,” Klotman said. “The Cullen family, the M.D. Anderson Foundation and the Albert and Margaret Alkek Foundation have been some of Baylor’s most devoted champions, which has enabled Baylor to mold generations of exceptional health sciences professionals. It is fitting that history is repeating itself with support for this state-of-the-art education building.”
“The Cullen Foundation’s work focuses on improving the quality of life of all people in Houston,” said Beth Robertson, board chair of The Cullen Foundation. “Investing in education and healthcare are vital components of that mission. Baylor College of Medicine has always served Houston in this way, and we are proud to partner once again with this great institution
“My grandparents’ bold vision for serving Houston was to help establish the world’s greatest medical center, and for that, the TMC needed to recruit a top-notch medical school, which Baylor continues to be,” said Corbin Robertson, Jr., former chair of the Baylor College of Medicine Board of Trustees and chairman of The Cullen Trust for Higher Education. “That is why our family has supported Baylor for five generations.”
The impact of the new Cullen Tower and Health Sciences Park will help position Houston as a leader in life sciences and a pioneer in integrating research and clinical assets in collaboration with business to revolutionize healthcare. Baylor continues to lead the Texas Medical Center and Houston toward a stronger, healthier future.
“Now is a terrific time for Baylor,” said David Baldwin, chair of the Baylor College Medicine Board of Trustees. “Our science has never been more critical to the world, and we really are splitting at the seams in terms of our facilities. If we don’t innovate the ways we teach, we do our students a disservice. We are excited to see how this new facility will usher in a new era of modern medical education and innovation.”
To learn more or to support this project, visit bcm.edu/cullentower.