About the Gulf Coast Consortia
The GCC delivers important advances in bioscience research and training by empowering individuals to go beyond the limitations of any single institution, discipline or degree program.
Located in Houston’s Texas Medical Center, GCC is one of the largest inter-institutional cooperatives in the world with a focus on building strong collaborative research groups and interdisciplinary training opportunities for PhD students and postdocs. GCC brings together the strengths of its member institutions to build interdisciplinary collaborative research teams and training programs in biological sciences at their intersection with the computational, chemical, mathematical, and physical sciences. GCC provides a unique, cutting edge collaborative training environment and research infrastructure beyond the capability of any single institution. Its mission is to train the next generation of biomedical scientists and to enable scientists to ask and answer questions that cross scientific disciplines to address the challenging biological issues of our time and, ultimately, to apply the resulting expertise and knowledge to the treatment and prevention of disease.
GCC is composed of seven prominent and geographically proximate Houston-Galveston area institutions:
Created in 2001 through an operating agreement signed by the president of each member institution, the GCC represents an unprecedented degree of inter-institutional cooperation to facilitate training programs and research teams contributing in important new or growing disciplines, including interdisciplinary fields such as biomedical informatics, chemical genomics and neuroengineering. Leaders of the GCC member institutions recognize that the scale and complexity of today’s biomedical research problems increasingly require scientists to move beyond traditional single investigator or single discipline projects. They have publicly articulated their support for the GCC as a model for collaboration. They acknowledge the strategic benefits in merging their institutions’ unique and highly complementary strengths and capabilities, recognize the challenges of melding different institutional cultures and missions, and they value the GCC’s effectiveness as a mechanism for managing inter-institutional interactions. In 2001 the GCC was created with a $3.5M gift from the W. M. Keck Foundation to foster collaborative research and training.
The GCC is comprised of a training arm, the Keck Center, and a research arm, with multiple communities focused on specific areas of interest to the GCC’s participating faculty.
The GCC Oversight Committee, the GCC’s governing body, is comprised of Institution Representatives appointed by each member institution president, along with training and research executive committee leaders, chairs emeriti and GCC staff leaders. In addition to providing strategic direction, governance and operational guidance for the GCC, this group provides formal approval for new consortium start-up and, through the institutional roles of its members, insures alignment of consortium interests with the strategic interests of GCC member institutions. GCC Oversight Committee Institutional Representatives for 2017 include: Michelle (Shelley) Barton, MD Anderson; Michael Blackburn, UTHealth; Peter Davies, IBT, past chair; Mary Ann Ottinger, UH, chair; David Niesel, UTMB; Yousif Shamoo, Rice, vice chair; and Ted Wensel, BCM. Also serving on the Oversight Committee are Wah Chiu, BCM, and Kathy Matthews, Rice, chairs emeriti; Lydia Kavraki, Rice, Keck Center Executive Committee chair; Ed Nikonowicz, Rice, Research Consortia Executive Committee chair; Karen Ethun, GCC Executive Director; Melissa Glueck, Keck Center Director; and Suzanne Tomlinson, Research Programs Director.
The training arm of the GCC, the Keck Center, currently supports over 50 trainees through competitive grants from federal and state agencies, and has over 400 affiliated faculty. Within the Keck Center, the emphasis is on continuing its 25-year successful tradition of fostering interdisciplinary and multi-institutional training. The Keck Center provides a unique intellectual and physical setting in which to train the next generation of scientists with expertise in multiple disciplines, able to reach across boundaries to advance insight and understanding. The Keck Executive Committee formulates training policy in terms of didactic courses, seminars, workshops, retreats, selecting trainees, and advising Keck Fellows and mentors, while leaving individual program directors latitude to tailor the implementation of these to the unique needs of their program.
The GCC’s research arm is comprised of consortia and clusters, which serve to catalyze interactions and provide a supportive environment for collaborative research programs that require expertise beyond that available in any one institution. Currently, the Research Consortia support over 400 faculty engaged with consortia in the following areas: Bioinformatics, Chemical Genomics, Protein Crystallography, Magnetic Resonance, Theoretical and Computational Neuroscience, and Translational Pain Research. Clusters, such as Early Disease Detection, Regenerative Medicine, Translational Addiction Sciences, and Neuroengineering form when faculty come together around a common goal or interest, establish a working vision, and engage interest among the broader faculty community in the GCC. When there is critical mass to commit to a shared vision, the researchers are encouraged to apply to the GCC Oversight Committee for the formation of a new cluster.
Notable accomplishments of the research consortia include the acquisition of two 800 MHz NMRs and a 9.4 Tesla MRI for small animal imaging, the acquisition, development, and expansion of a High Throughput Screening Center and related satellite centers, development and operation of a beamline at LSU’s synchrotron.