Simulation Specialist Robert Schnur (left) and Sr. Simulation Specialist Hajar Abdellaoui (far right) demonstrate to John F. III and Ann H. Bookout highly specialized tools used in precision robotic-assisted surgery


Bringing Surgery Into the Future
Medicine is advancing more rapidly now than ever, protecting us from once ubiquitous diseases and curing illnesses before they become debilitating. Still, many common issues can be addressed only by a medical intervention more than 6,000 years old: surgery.
At Houston Methodist, this ancient practice stands at the forefront of change thanks to a transformational gift from longtime supporters Ann and John F. Bookout III to establish The Bookout Center for Medical Innovation, Technology, Research and Education.
The Bookout Center is an advanced, state-of-the-art surgical training and technology innovation facility. The training mission includes all levels of surgeons, from students to practicing experts. The innovation mission is dedicated to development of robotic, imaging and digital surgery platforms. Translational research and education programs at the world-class center are focused on precise, efficient and personalized surgical interventions for enhanced patient care and improved outcomes.
The Bookout Center builds on the work of the Houston Methodist Institute for Technology, Innovation and Education (MITIESM), which John’s father, John F. Bookout, Jr., helped conceive in 2007 to enable health care professionals to learn and hone surgical and clinical skills using virtual and advanced technologies. Each year, approximately 6,000 Houston Methodist medical trainees visit MITIE to augment their learning through hands-on education. “Everybody needs to be retrained at some point, and the best way to do that is in a learning environment,” says John F. Bookout III, former chair and current member of the Houston Methodist Academic Institute Board. “It’s a really special place.”
“The Bookout Center continues the tradition of innovation that Mr. Bookout — who is 101 years old and an active member of the Houston Methodist board — helped make possible,” says Dr. Marc L. Boom, Ella Fondren and Josie Roberts Presidential Distinguished Centennial Chair and president and CEO of Houston Methodist. “It is inspiring to see Ann and John carry on his legacy.”
Indeed, it is difficult to speak about Houston Methodist’s history without mentioning the Bookout name. The family’s contributions toward innovation and education for the next generation of medical experts abound. “The Bookout family’s help has allowed our faculty to investigate new avenues for developing technologies that will create better, safer outcomes for our patients,” says Dr. H. Dirk Sostman, Ernest Cockrell, Jr. Presidential Distinguished Chair and president and CEO of the Houston Methodist Academic Institute.
Architects of ingenuity: Stuart J. Corr, PhD, Dr. Alan B. Lumsden and Dr. H. Dirk Sostman
More than 15 million Americans undergo surgery every year. Whether to remove an inflamed appendix, replace an arthritic joint or excise a cancerous tumor, surgeries carry a certain amount of risk. The Bookout Center aims to mitigate these risks by supporting medical professionals at all levels and specialties as they refine and retool their surgical skills in simulated, highly realistic environments using resources such as high-resolution imaging and diagnostics, virtual reality, artificial intelligence and robotics.
“When you use robots, it’s all about data generation,” says Dr. Alan B. Lumsden, Walter W. Fondren III Presidential Distinguished Chair in the DeBakey Heart & Vascular Center, executive director of MITIE and medical director of The Bookout Center. “In medicine today, we have something we’ve never seen before in terms of data production and generation, and we need to leverage that.” Adds John F. Bookout III, “We can use that data to devise next-generation care that anticipates problems rather than reacting to them.”
“We foresee extended reality and spatial computing having a pivotal impact on surgical technology, education and training,” says Stuart J. Corr, PhD, director of innovation engineering and associate professor at the center. To achieve this goal, the center also will engage mechanical engineers, computational scientists and clinicians with an interest in robotics.
With academic excellence and expert training in mind, the Bookouts also endowed two positions. The John F. III and Ann H. Bookout New Century Presidential Distinguished Chair in Medical Innovation and Research and the John F. III and Ann H. Bookout Centennial Distinguished Chair will ensure the center recruits and retains top-caliber talent for generations to come.
“I envision The Bookout Center as a beacon for discovery,” says John F. Bookout III. “It’s been a journey that has brought many people together. We’ve now got the right leadership in place and are excited for the breakthroughs we can achieve together.”