Tropical storm Allison dumped roughly three feet of rain on Houston in early June, killing 20 people and causing property damage estimated at $1 billion. Huda Zoghbi and other HHMI investigators at Baylor College of Medicine did not escape the storm's wrath.
More than 30,000 of Baylor's research animals died when basement and sub-basement animal facilities flooded. "We lost about 40 percent of our mice," Zoghbi says. The manager of HHMI's administrative office in Houston, Randal Condit, estimates that other investigators who work with mice experienced similar losses. Power failures destroyed many cell cultures, but investigators and their teams used more than 1,500 pounds of dry ice a day to save what they could. "We preserved the things that were irreplaceable, such as patient cell lines and donated tissue," Zoghbi says, adding that "this was hardest on the graduate students and fellows. A few months' or a year's setback is enormous for them."
Although it is on the first floor of a building near a bayou, HHMI's administrative office at Baylor sustained no permanent damage. The lab of Richard Gomer, an HHMI investigator at Houston's Rice University, was untouched. Only a block from Baylor, Rice is on slightly higher ground, and all of its research animals and labs are above ground level.
this story in Acrobat PDF format.
Reprinted from the HHMI Bulletin,
July 2001, pages 16-19.
©2001 Howard Hughes Medical Institute
Teasing Out the Early
January 24, 2000
Rett Syndrome Traced
to Defective Gene
September 30, 1999