University of Texas Medical School at Houston

The University of Texas Medical School at Houston (UTMS) registers patients from ethnically diverse populations through its affiliation with Memorial Hermann Hospital, the Memorial Hermann Healthcare System, and the Texas Medical Center. The Memorial Hermann Healthcare System is composed of nine acute-care hospitals, four heart and vascular center institutes, three long-term acute care hospitals, several freestanding outpatient imaging centers, and several other healthcare facilities. Memorial Hermann Hospital is a certified Level 1 Trauma Center, one of only two in the Greater Houston area, providing 24-hour emergency and trauma care to more than 40,000 patients per year, including patients with acute aortic dissections. A Memorial Hermann Life Flight air ambulance service operates a fleet of three helicopters that provide emergency rescue and air transport services to a multi-county area. As the primary teaching hospital for UTMS, Memorial Hermann provides comprehensive services in surgery, internal medicine, pediatrics, obstetrics, and cardiology, and cutting-edge research in a variety of medical specialties.

Photo of Dianna M. Milewicz, MD, PhD

Dianna M. Milewicz, MD, PhD
Principal Investigator

Dianna M. Milewicz, MD, PhD, is professor and director of the Division of Medical Genetics in the Department of Internal Medicine at UT and serves as the principal investigator for the UT and Texas Children’s Hospital. She is director of the MD/PhD Program, a joint program between UT and the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center. Dr. Milewicz graduated from Rice University, received her MD and PhD from The University of Texas Southwestern Medical School (UT Southwestern). She completed her residency in internal medicine and finished a year of fellowship training in cardiology at UT Southwestern, and completed a medical genetics fellowship at the University of Washington Medical School. Dr. Milewicz joined the faculty at UT in 1991. Dr. Milewicz’s awards include a Pfizer Scholars Award, AHA Established Investigator Award, membership in the American Society of Clinical Investigation (ASCI), 1999 Antoine Marfan Award from the National Marfan Foundation, 2001 Doris Duke Distinguished Clinical Scientist Award, and the University of Texas Health Science Center Presidential Award for Research. She holds the President George H.W. Bush Chair in cardiovascular medicine. Dr. Milewicz also was appointed chair of the National Marfan Foundation Professional Advisory Board in 2004 and served until 2010. She is chair of the Thoracic Aortic Disease Coalition, which was organized to increase public awareness of risk factors and symptoms of aortic dissections, and director of the John Ritter Research Program. She is an international expert on the genetic basis of aortic aneurysms and dissections. Her research, which focuses on the genetic basis of thoracic aortic aneurysms leading to aortic dissections (TAAD), has determined that TAAD is inherited in an autosomal dominant manner with decreased penetrance and variable expression. Dr. Milewicz’s research program, along with work by other labs, has identified six genes for familial TAAD and many of these genes are involved in smooth muscle contractile function. More recently, her laboratory has initiated studies in TAAD patients without a family history and determined that rare copy number variants occur in TAAD patients.

Meghan Terry
Study Coordinator

Meghan Terry is the research coordinator for GenTAC in the Medical Genetics department at UTH. She has worked in research for 6 years, working on pharmaceutical trials before coming to UTH in 2008. She started her career at UTH working on The Genetic Basis of Aortic Aneurysms and Dissections study and took over as coordinator for the GenTAC registry in 2011. She is responsible for enrolling patients at the Medical Genetics clinic at UTH, Memorial Hermann Hospital, and Texas Children’s Pediatric Cardiology Clinic. Along with screening and enrollment, she is also responsible for data extraction and follow-up with previously enrolled participants.