New collaborative PhD programme with leading US research institute announced

High quality research collaborations with scientists and clinicians in Houston

Swansea University has launched a new collaborative PhD programme with one of the world’s leading biomedical research centres – The Methodist Hospital Research Institute (TMHRI), in Houston, Texas, USA.

The scheme, led by Swansea University’s College of Engineering, will provide a route to high quality research collaborations with scientists and clinicians in Houston and will see students from Swansea’s Colleges of Engineering, Medicine, and Science,  spend years two and three of their PhD degree in Houston, as paid employees of TMHRI.

Delegates from TMHRI visited Swansea earlier this month for a five-day strategic research visit, during which they presented an overview of the new programme, as well as information on specialist individual research areas within TMHRI.

Established in 1919, The Methodist Hospital, Houston, Texas is one of the most comprehensive teaching hospitals in the United States, with leading specialists in every field of medicine.

The hospital has consistently ranked as "One of America's Best Hospitals" according to News and World Report.  It has earned worldwide recognition in multiple specialties including cardiovascular surgery, cancer and epilepsy treatment and organ transplantation.

TMHRI is the research enterprise for The Methodist Hospital System and is affiliated with the Weill Cornell Medical College in New York City. Located in a new 440,000-square-foot research building, TX, TMHRI is equipped with advanced technologies and facilities that offers vertically integrated, state-of-the-art laboratory and technological resources for translational and clinical research, allowing translational researchers and physician scientists to bring ideas to clinical applications in a single facility.

TMHRI has more than 1000 physicians, scientists, nurses, staff, and trainees, who are credentialed to conduct translational and clinical research. TMHRI currently supervises and supports more than 700 clinical protocols.

 TMHRI’s research departments and programs include Nanomedicine, Systems Medicine and Bioengineering and Translational Imaging, Cancer, Cardiovascular Diseases, Diabetes and Metabolic Disease, Genomic Medicine, Infectious Disease, Neuroscience, Transplant Biology and Regenerative Medicine.

TMHRI will be collaborating with Swansea University’s College of Engineering who will lead the venture.

Dr James Abbey, Swansea University’s International Strategic Collaboration Advisor said: “Our involvement in the Texas/UK Collaborative PhD has benefited Swansea University greatly. Working with the best universities and research institutes in Texas has led to our engagement with TMHRI.

“Swansea University for several years has had the principle of pursuing ambitious and radical policies to accelerate the development of Swansea as a strong, research-led university.Swansea University being the first UK University involved in awarding a PhD with TMHRI truly shows the calibre of our research to the global community. Our collaboration with TMHRI demonstrates that we are pursuing an aggressive science agenda to put Swansea at the front globally in research.”

Dr Abbey added: “The Welsh Assembly Government’s recently announced economic renewal strategy recognises the importance of university research in helping to drive the development of a modern economy in Wales. This will require Welsh universities to start punching above their weight. Swansea University is already working hard to meet this challenge and by working with TMHRI we feel that we are succeeding to meet it.”

Mr Tong Sun, TMHRI’s Director of Central Operation, led the first TMHRI delegation to visit Swansea, comprised of faculty members, research and educational administrators and a postdoctoral fellow.

He said “We are truly impressed with the quality of research and the state of the art facilities in the Centre for NanoHealth at Swansea. Our collaboration with Swansea began a few years ago with the interaction with Swansea by Dr Mauro Ferrari, President and CEO of TMHRI, who served as the Chairman of The International Advisory Board for the Swansea’s Centre for NanoHealth, and now serves as an Honorary Chair of NanoMedicine at Swansea.

“The collaboration between TMHRI and Swansea has blossomed with participation of many faculty members in the Department of Nanomedicine at TMHRI, including: Dr Rita Serda, Dr Jason Sakamoto, Dr Ennio Tasciotti, Dr Bianan Godin Vilentchouk and Dr Elvin Blanco, as well as faculty members at Swansea: Dr Huw Summers, Dr Paul Rees, Professor Steve Conlan, Dr James Abbey and Professor Julian Hopkin.

“We will continue our strong collaboration with Swansea in Nanomedicine, and we also look forward to expanding our collaboration in other disciplines including Medical Sciences.” 

In addition to the active collaborations between the faculty members, Mr Sun also acknowledges the tremendous support from the institutional leaders including Dr Mauro Ferrari, Vice-Chancellor, Professor Richard B Davies and Pro-Vice-Chancellor, Professor Ian Cluckie.

For more information on TMHRI visit  and for information on Swansea University’s participating colleges go to,,

August 16 2012