George and Angelina Kostas Research Center for Cardiovascular Nanomedicine

George and Angelina Kostas Gift Propels Heart and Vascular Nanotechnology Research at Houston Methodist

After receiving a generous gift from George J. and Angelina P. Kostas, the Houston Methodist Research Institute began operations on the new George and Angelina Kostas Research Center for Cardiovascular Nanomedicine. The donation is the largest philanthropic gift in support of cardiovascular nanomedicine and could revolutionize the treatment of cardiovascular disease.

The groundbreaking center will foster international collaboration and bring together top laboratory and physician scientists from the Houston Methodist DeBakey Heart & Vascular Center and the Houston Methodist Research Institute Department of Nanomedicine to investigate how emerging technologies in nanomedicine can be used to heal damaged hearts and vascular tissue. The Kostas's gift will also fund an annual international scientific meeting in Houston on cardiovascular nanomedicine.

The Kostases, American-born children of Greek immigrants, have a long tradition of philanthropic gifts, including the establishment of The George J. Kostas Research Institute for Homeland Security (2010) and The George J. Kostas Nanoscale Technology and Manufacturing Research Center both at Northeastern University (2003) in Boston, George Kostas’ alma mater. In 2008, Northeastern awarded George Kostas, a chemical engineer and a pioneer in synthetic rubber manufacturing, an honorary doctorate of sciences and the president’s medallion award. He was key to the U.S. government's synthetic rubber manufacturing initiatives after World War II. In 1972, he founded and served as president of Techno Economic Services Inc. (TESCO). Under his leadership, TESCO developed a revolutionary new process based on his patents, termed “Xenoclad,” which plates aluminum in an atomic form on metal substrates to render them resistant to corrosion.

Angelina (Lea), a woman of deep faith, grace and warmth, and devoted lifelong member of Annunciation Greek Orthodox Cathedral, served as a member of the Philoptochos charitable society for 70 years and a board member for 40 years. During World War II, Lea served as a spotter for enemy aircraft over the Houston area. Married for 62 years, George and Lea are the parents of four talented daughters. The Kostas family is a generous supporter of the Annunciation and St. Basil’s Greek Orthodox Churches of Houston. They built the St. George Chapel and donated it to the cathedral. St. Basil’s church honored Mr. Kostas by naming the education center after him. In 2008, they honored Lea Kostas by naming the auditorium in her honor.

The Kostas Center will be directed by Houston Methodist Research Institute President and CEO Mauro Ferrari, PhD and the Heart & Vascular Center Medical Director Alan B. Lumsden, MD, who, along with the executive committee, will guide the center's development, approve new research initiatives and initiate collaborative ventures that will transform cardiovascular nanomedicine. The center's program and working group leaders include some of Houston Methodist's best nanotechnology researchers and cardiovascular physicians and surgeons, such as Guillermo Torre-Amione, MD, PhD; Elvin Blanco, PhD; Miguel Valderrábano, MD; John Cooke, MD, PhD; Ennio Tasciotti, PhD; William Zoghbi, MD and Paolo Decuzzi, PhD. The groups are designed to work in sequence to translate discoveries quickly into technologies for human clinical trials.

One possible area of investigation is the use of non-toxic, silicon-based nanoparticles to dismantle and disperse the fatty plaques that often form along the inner sides of blood vessels. These plaques contribute to hypertension. When larger plaques are dislodged, they can cause blockages downstream, leading to heart attacks and strokes.