Baylor College of Medicine


Baylor College of Medicine wins the 2024 STAT Madness Science Competition

Taylor Barnes


Houston, TX -

Baylor College of Medicine is the champion of the 2024 STAT Madness competition!

Similar to the March Madness bracket-style basketball competition, but focused on science, this national event pits research institutions against each other for the top innovation spot in science and medicine published in the previous year.

This year, 50 institutions across the U.S. sent their candidate studies to STAT Madness, which selected 64 for the competition. The winner is elected by popular vote. After five weeks of voting that gathered nearly 270,000 votes, the Baylor team outdid the Stanford University competitor with 64.8% of the vote in the final round.

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Rachel Lahowetz
Dr. Anthony Maresso and Dr. Michael Tisza are part of the team responsible establishing the Texas Wastewater Environmental Biomonitoring network.
Dr. Anthony Maresso and Dr. Michael Tisza are part of the team responsible for establishing the Texas Wastewater Environmental Biomonitoring network.

This year, the College was represented by work conducted by Drs. Anthony Maresso, Sara Javornik Cregeen, Michael Tisza, Joseph Petrosino and colleagues, which is published in Nature Communications. In collaboration with Texas Epidemic Public Health Institute and UTHealth Houston School of Public Health, the team has established a statewide Texas Wastewater Environmental Biomonitoring (TexWEB) network that is the first to analyze the human virome – all the known human viruses – that are circulating in a community, by regularly and comprehensively scrutinizing public wastewater.

“We developed and implemented a complete pipeline, from sample collection, analysis and interpretation of wastewater results, to producing periodical reports on the health of communities, which are sent to public health officials,” said Javornik Cregeen, assistant professor of  molecular virology and microbiology at Baylor and co-first author of the work. She also led the team that ran the samples at Baylor’s Alkek Center for Metagenomics and Microbiome Research (CMMR).

“This is important because knowing the up-and-down patterns of the relative proportions of the different viruses in time and by location is increasingly proving to be a powerful tool to improve our understanding of outbreaks, transmission and the effects on overall population health,” said Maresso, professor and Joseph Melnick Endowed Chair in Molecular Virology and Microbiology at Baylor. 

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Dr. Javornik Cregeen
Dr. Javornik Cregeen is part of the winning 2024 STAT Madness team.

“The health report has the potential to benefit members of the community, for example by giving them a heads up of upcoming flu outbreaks for which they can prepare by getting a flu shot. Public health officials also can use this information to adjust hospital staffing in anticipation of an increase in cases,” said Tisza, assistant professor of molecular virology and microbiology at Baylor.

“Baylor’s CMMR is very excited to be part of the wastewater epidemiology project that has won this year’s STAT Madness science competition. This is a wonderful opportunity to spread the word about the great value wastewater monitoring offers to improve health and treat disease,” said Petrosino, CMMR director and professor and chair of molecular virology and microbiology at Baylor.

Read the STAT Madness interview with the authors here and the history behind the winning project, here

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