An NIH-funded Silvio O Conte Digestive Diseases Research Core Center located in Houston, Texas, was formalized in 2001, with NIDDK support to promote, facilitate and enhance the advancement of science and gastrointestinal (GI)-related research through formal interactions among various research and training units at participating institutions in the Texas Medical Center. The Center was founded by Mary K. Estes, Ph.D., emeritus director and professor of molecular virology and microbiology at Baylor. 

Renewal of this DDC in 2007 and 2012 enhanced collaborative interactions with increased productivity. This competing renewal application builds on the strengths of our DDC to further increase the productivity of multidisciplinary groups of basic and clinical investigators, who constitute a growing and increasingly interactive research community in digestive diseases by providing access to cost-effective, highly specialized shared resources and expertise. 

Texas Medical Center Digestive Disease Center's Goals

The overall goal of our DDC is to support and facilitate research in our thematic areas of gastrointestinal infection and injury, with the expectation that new knowledge of etiology and pathogenesis will result in novel  approaches to treat and prevent digestive diseases, and enhance translational research to improve clinical outcomes for digestive diseases in diverse populations.

The DDC seeks to achieve this goal through the following specific aims:  

To provide GI-dedicated scientific leadership and institutional infrastructure that will actively foster an exceptional environment to facilitate and stimulate multidisciplinary and collaborative GI-related research. A strong group of GI researchers has been growing in the Texas Medical Center of Houston. The DDC seeks to enrich this wealth of talent and foster a fertile research environment by offering access to an accomplished cadre of experts and their core facilities in the service of interdisciplinary research. We promote innovation and multidisciplinary collaboration through a supportive administrative core, responsive biomedical research cores, as well as an exciting enrichment program that encourages scientific communication and education.

To provide center investigators with scientific core services that will enhance their research efficiency and productivity by facilitating access to state-of-the art equipment and technological expertise that are difficult to obtain on an individual basis. This is the fundamental goal of the DDC and our cores will continue to provide unique expertise, training and insight to facilitate GI research. The DDC also aims to recognize and support new opportunities for innovation by our three basic science and one clinical cores in response to scientific advances and the changing needs of our GI investigators. 

To develop GI research programs by supporting new investigators and pilot projects. The research base in the TMC is strong and poised for further growth through the recruitment of new young investigators and established scientists previously in other fields whose research becomes relevant to digestive diseases. The DDC facilitates research through our cores and by providing funds for new, innovative projects and collaborations through our very successful Pilot and Feasibility Program.

To promote and disseminate new GI research findings to our center investigators and the larger scientific community in the TMC, thereby providing the foundation for new research ideas and to educate, excite and entice new students, postdoctoral fellows, physicians and established investigators to join the GI research community. These goals are accomplished through our enrichment program that sponsors seminars, research workshops, and our Annual Frontiers in Digestive Diseases Symposium.