The TCU School of Medicine will expand more than its walls in the coming years, the school’s dean, Dr. Stuart Flynn, told a small group of real estate and banking personnel on July 13. 

Specifically, the school will soon serve as the epicenter for a clinical trials research consortium in Fort Worth. Clinical trials are research studies that test how an intervention — like a specific drug or medical device — affects people. 

The consortium, right now a partnership between the medical school and three area hospitals, will encourage pharmaceutical and biotech companies to open trials for people in the city, Flynn said. 

Current partners for the clinical trials research consortium:

  • TCU School of Medicine
  • Baylor Scott & White All Saints Medical Center – Fort Worth
  • Texas Health Harris Methodist Hospital Fort Worth
  • JPS Health Network 

A similar group spearheaded by Dr. Mohanakrishnan Sathyamoorthy offered a “proof of concept” for the consortium. Sathyamoorthy is a cardiologist, scientist and chair of internal medicine at the medical school. 

In the early months of the pandemic, he gathered a cohort of physicians across disciplines in North Texas to form the Fort Worth Clinical Sciences Working Group, a volunteer research team trying to determine if an already-existing drug could treat the sickest COVID-19 patients. 

In late September 2021, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved the group’s research for clinical trials. The group’s success proved “that different entities could work together and not worry about (intellectual property) and worry about patents and the like,” Flynn said. 

“Now we’re just going to put it on steroids.”

Flynn shared the news as a tangible example of the economic impact the TCU School of Medicine will make on Fort Worth. He and his colleague, Todd Waldvogel, associate vice chancellor for facilities and campus planning at TCU, composed a two-person panel Tuesday evening for an event hosted by the Real Estate Council of Greater Fort Worth. About 30-40 people attended the discussion at Encore Bank on Camp Bowie Boulevard. 

In February, the medical school announced the location of its new campus: a roughly five-acre plot of land on the corner of West Rosedale and South Henderson in Fort Worth’s medical district. The news came six weeks after the formal dissolution of the school’s founding partnership between TCU and The University of North Texas Health Science Center.  

Slated for completion in summer 2024, the new campus will embrace the curriculum’s inclusion of augmented reality, Flynn said. 

“We have to have the IT infrastructure, the physical infrastructure, and we’re trying to build this a little bit like Legos,” he said. “So when something gets outdated, we haven’t crushed it with solid walls, we can move around and bring in something else.”

The school is also partnering with The University of Texas at Arlington to create two new dual degree opportunities: an M.D./Ph.D. in computer science and an M.D./Ph.D. in biomedical engineering. Flynn calls both fields the “explosion in health care.” 

The medical school’s vision is to build the physician workforce in Fort Worth, he said — one equipped for the future of health care. 

“We wanted to build something that trained truly the next generation of physicians.”

Alexis Allison is the health reporter at the Fort Worth Report. Her position is supported by a grant from Texas Health Resources. Contact her by email at alexis.allison@fortworthreport.org or via Twitter. At the Fort Worth Report, news decisions are made independently of our board members and financial supporters. Read more about our editorial independence policy here.

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Alexis Allison

Alexis Allison covers health for the Fort Worth Report. When she can, she'll slip in an illustration or two. Allison is a former high school English teacher and hopes her journalism is likewise educational....