Ascension Seton has established two renowned research partnerships with The University of Texas at Austin.

In August 2014, Ascension Seton and the UT Austin Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs Center established the research partnership for Health and Social Policy (CHASP) to provide $500,000 in funding support, enabling Ascension Seton and UT Austin to conduct various non-clinical health and social policy research studies to seed innovative, cross-disciplinary, research collaborations and help to improve health policy, health care services delivery, and health outcomes launched.

Ascension Seton has granted approximately $300,000 for the studies involving physicians, faculty members, and other researchers in the first round of this new partnership. A range of university-based organizations are involved in this first phase of funding, including the UT Departments of Educational Psychology, Organizational Communication & Technology, Computer Science, Economics and Kinesiology & Health Education; the UT Schools of Information, Social Work, Nursing and Public Affairs and the College of Pharmacy; and the Center for Health Communication and the Center for Identity. Also included is the Texas Child Study Center at Dell Children’s Medical Center of Central Texas. Other partners in the studies include Central Health, Travis County’s health care district, and the Community Care Collaborative, a unique and ambitious integrated delivery system for Travis County residents living at or below 200 percent of the Federal Poverty Level.

In December 2015, Dell Medical School at The University of Texas at Austin in collaboration with the  Cockrell School of EngineeringCollege of Natural SciencesCollege of Pharmacy, and Office of Technology Commercialization launched the inaugural pilot funding cycle of the Texas Health Catalyst, a program which aims to identify, guide and support promising translational research at UT Austin.

The Texas Health Catalyst program is designed to work closely with other campus innovation programs such as the Innovation Center and the IC2 Institute. Texas Health Catalyst brings together seed funding and timely and customized guidance from leaders with first-hand experience in getting healthcare products into the market to improve health. Texas Health Catalyst aims to: Identify promising translational research across UT Austin that has the potential to become a health product. Provide timely and customized guidance on the research and development pathway from the perspective of those who have seen products go to market and impact health. Grant seed funding for exceptional projects that may otherwise not have a source for support.

UT Austin faculty researchers including Ascension Seton physicians submitted proposals for projects targeting a specific health need with the potential to translate research into a therapeutic, diagnostic, device or digital health product. Proposals were reviewed by Texas Health Catalyst Advisory Panel members with experience in go to market products. Select applicants received customized guidance and proposals were improved through targeted consultation awards. Finalists were then selected to move beyond the consultation phase to compete for funding of up to $100,000 to support key preclinical steps and further advancement.

From an initial group of 30 applications received in July 2015, eight project teams were identified as finalists by a specially chosen, multidisciplinary advisory panel. Over the course of two months, the teams worked with appointed advisors to understand challenges and to focus their efforts on developing products that will truly impact health. That culminated with finalist presentations in front of a wide-ranging group of UT Austin and industry leaders in early December 2015.

Acknowledgments: Ascension Seton Healthcare and Texas Health Catalyst are grateful to the Catalyst program at The University of California, San Francisco for sharing guidance and materials to help launch this program.