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The Institute For Religion And Health At 1129 Wilkins Blvd.


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The Institute For Religion And Health On Fannin St.


The Institute for Spirituality and Health at the Texas Medical Center was founded in 1955, and was originally known as The Institute of Religion. From its inception, the Institute has been dedicated to the concept that humans are spiritual beings and that spirituality plays a vital role in health and in healing. It was here that one of the first Chaplaincy training programs in the nation was established.

Many of the original founders of the Institute are well known to the Houston community. With their support, a four-story building was constructed behind Methodist Hospital in the middle of the rapidly expanding Texas Medical Center. Medical ethics began to emerge as a key area of interest in the mid-70’s and in 1979, The Encyclopedia of Bioethics said the Institute of Religion, was the “first major institution devoted to medical ethics in the United States. In 1982, as a result of a joint agreement between Baylor College of Medicine, Rice University and the Institute, the Center for Medical Ethics was created. Professor Baruch Brody, Ph.D., was hired to lead a team of ethicists and the Center occupied a portion of the Institute’s top floor. Many academic papers on biomedical and ethical issues were published and major conferences held.  

As the medical center grew, Baylor College of Medicine took over our Ethics department and TMC hospitals took over our chaplain training programs. In the early 90’s the Institute began two conferences: the Psychotherapy and Faith Conference, which combined the topics of psychiatry and religion; and the Nursing Conference which grew out of monthly luncheons and nurses’ retreats. Today both conferences are held in the fall. During the late 90’s a congregational health ministry program (or parish nursing) affirming healthy lifestyles, establishing support groups, dealing with ethical and moral issues surrounding medical treatment, and targeting health programs for all age groups was established.

In 2001, Tropical Storm Allison flooded our building, causing irreparable damage. In a mutual agreement, Methodist Hospital acquired the land and relocated ISH to a

facility, just outside the TMC. The move gave rise to a new name, the Institute for Religion and Health. The name was changed one more time, in 2008, to the Institute for Spirituality and Health. Our current office at 8100 Greenbriar includes an expandable lecture hall, a wood-floored Yoga studio, a small library, and free gated parking.

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