App created by SMU physics grad aims to simplify person-to-person buying, selling

Daily Campus

Originally Posted: February 8, 2016

Have you ever wanted to sell your old items online with people nearby? Well now, there’s an app for that.

5miles, a hyper-local marketplace app using GPS location, offers an easy way for consumers to buy and sell items on their phone. The app was launched in January 2015 and gained five million users in one year with $10 million in transactions in Dallas alone. READ MORE

Dedman College alumnus Emmanuel Sanders worked hard to reach Super Bowl again

Sealy News

Originally Posted: February 4, 2016

Emmanuel Sanders is rapidly growing to icon status with his second trip to the Super Bowl since entering the National Football League in 2010.

Sanders, who is a 2005 graduate of Bellville High School, knew from a young age what he wanted out of life – to be a professional athlete.

As a young man, growing up to a single mom of three children, the value of hard work was instilled in Emmanuel on many levels. Family first, is the mindset of the Sanders family.

Emmanuel’s sister, Precious Sanders Seymore, described the family as a very close-knit group, who to this day still talk and text daily to support each other. READ MORE

Valentine’s Ideas, courtesy of Bumble


Originally Posted: February 3, 2016

The following is an excerpt from an article written by Dedman College alumnus Matt Alexander featuring Valentine’s day gift idea’s from Bumble, a company founded by another Dedman College alumna, Whitney Wolfe.

Over the past year or so, it’s been a pleasure to watch the rapid rise and success of Bumble, an innovative dating app, which seeks to create a better, safer, and more enjoyable experience for men and women alike.

From prominent coverage in the press to creative pop-ups at events around the world, the team at Bumble has got a masterful idea of how to foster a fantastic community of people.

And it’s made all the better by the fact that I knew some members of their team — namely Whitney Wolfe, their founder, and Alex Williamson, their head of marketing — at university.

Given the three of us graduated within a year or two of each other and went onto found companies swirling around the realms of technology and culture, we’ve been in loose touch in recent months, looking for a chance to bring our respective companies together. And, finally, we’ve found an ideal chance to work with them: to help prepare you, unsuspecting men and women, for Valentine’s Day. READ MORE

TechCrunch: Physics grad Liang Lu ’05 developed a competitor for Craigslist called 5miles, which has over 5 million downloads and sold $1 billion worth of goods in 2015


Originally Posted: January 26, 2016

Can a mobile classified app topple the behemoth that is Craigslist? We’ve asked the question before (more than once, in fact), and it looks like it may be in order again: 5miles, an app developed in China but being rolled out in the U.S. first as a quick way for people to list and buy items locally, has raised $30 million in funding to beat the classifieds leader at its own game. It has a couple of ace cards in its hand to help: 5miles was created to be mobile-first; it comes with some AI-based vetting features; and it costs absolutely nothing to use.

This latest round, a Series B, brings the total raised by the company to over $50 million. With this latest funding, 5miles’ valuation is over $300 million, TechCrunch understands.

5miles first launched in the U.S. in January 2015 after being founded by Lucas Lu, a physics PhD who had also worked at Alibaba and was a CTO at Chinese marketplace app Light in the Box. Although the app was built in China, Lu had done graduate work at Southern Methodist University, so when it came to launching the app he went back to Dallas as a starting point. READ MORE

Doctors told Debbie Dupree that her son would be dead by the time he was 19. They were wrong. Ben is now 23 and a Dedman College alumnus.


Originally Posted: January 20, 2016

When most little boys were running up and down stairs, Ben Dupree was using his arms to pull himself up the wood banister in his home in University Park. His mom, Debbie, knew something was wrong.

“I can remember any step he would take, being worried that he was going to fall,” she said.

Ben was 9 when he was diagnosed with Duchenne muscular dystrophy. Like an estimated one in 3,500 boys, his muscles were beginning to weaken, starting with the hips and thighs.
For a while, Ben continued to walk. But when he was 15, he slipped — and he decided it was time for a wheelchair.

“I kind of was almost in denial,” Ben said. “Ignoring it, pushing it off for awhile.”

Doctors told Debbie Dupree that Ben would be dead by the time he was 19. For many boys with Duchenne, that’s the reality.
But today, Ben is 23 years old. He’s a recent graduate of Southern Methodist University. Ben’s success in slowing down the disease is partly thanks to genetic luck, and support from people like his mom.
“We have spent a lot of time, and a lot of expense, going to additional therapies to keep him in the shape that he’s in,” she said. She helps her son with everything from stretching and managing medication to doctors’ appointments. She also works with the nonprofit Parent Project Muscular Dystrophy.

“The emotional impact of this on him and our family and other families with muscular dystrophy is huge,” Dupree said.
Over the years, there have been many attempts to find cures for the fatal disease, but so far, Dr. Eric Olson says nothing has worked.

“While some of the approaches that have been taken provided some short term benefit for these boys, ultimately, they inevitably succumb to the disease if they have a mutation in the dystrophin gene,” Olson says.

Olson is chairman of molecular biology at UT Southwestern and co-director of the school’s new Wellstone Muscular Dystrophy Cooperative Research Center. His latest research is shaking up the Duchenne muscular dystrophy community. Why? Well, he’s figured out how to use a new gene editing tool to correct the mutation that causes the disease in mice.

“It’s really amazing,” Olson said. “Because what it allows you to go into the DNA sequence of the body and with absolute precision to change even a single letter in the DNA code that may have a mutation and eliminate that mutation permanently.”
The gene editing tool is called CRISPR/Cas9.

To understand how it works, imagine a big banner in the sky; it’s supposed to say, “Congratulations” but instead reads

“Congratulations.” You have to figure out a way to reach the banner, then cut out that extra letter “L.”
That’s essentially what this high-tech pair of gene editing scissors makes possible.

Granted, instead of editing a banner, we’re talking about editing a gene about the size of a mustard seed. And instead of doing it in humans, Olson’s team did it in mice. Still, researchers say it is an impressive advance.

Gang Bao, a bioengineering professor at Rice University, says the possibility of using gene editing to treat diseases like Duchenne muscular dystrophy or Huntington’s is exciting. Imagine a single injection correcting muscles in the body, including the heart. A major challenge, Bao says, is keeping the Nano scissors from cutting what they’re not supposed to cut.

“They may cut at the location you want them to cut, but they may also cut at other locations. Those could cause a disease, so the potential is there,” Bao said.

As researchers work to refine the technique, and prepare for human trials, young men like Ben Dupree are cheering from the sidelines.

“I would like to see a stop in my decline,” Ben said. “Which I think is probable with [gene editing], but it may not be in the near future.”
Ben’s near future is promising. He’s just applied for a master’s degree and wants to be a genetic counselor.

“My original excitement about genetics was all due to wanting to understand my condition,” he said. “I found that I really enjoyed more of the human element, talking with people, explaining what muscular dystrophy is, how the genetics is involved and wanting to be in a position where I can help other people with Duchenne manage and understand the condition.” READ MORE

Former Alibaba officer, SMU grad raises $30 million for 5miles mobile marketplace app

Dallas Morning News

Originally Posted: January 26, 2016

A garage sale on your smartphone is a growing business that was made for mobile apps. 5miles, a Dallas and Beijing-based company, is working to become a major player in the local classified advertising business that’s been dominated online for 20 years by Craigslist.

The 1-year-old mobile marketplace app has attracted $30 million in new investments from a group of venture capital funds that focuses on companies with U.S. and Chinese ties. The group includes funds Blue Lake, IDG, Morningside and SIG-China and individuals who have worked with or invested in Alibaba, China’s largest e-commerce company, and eBay.

When deciding where to locate 5miles’ U.S. headquarters, founder Lucas Lu said he decided on Dallas, where he lived for several years while he completed a doctorate in physics from Southern Methodist University in 2005. Lu has an impressive e-commerce background with leadership experience at Alibaba, and LightInTheBox, where he was chief technology officer.

In Dallas, 5miles has about a dozen employees and another 30 are in Beijing where most of the engineering and programming staff is located. READ MORE

Dedman College Alumnus Bryson DeChambeau, a Custom Clubmaker and a Teaching Pro Might Be the Start of a Revolution

Originally Posted: January 26, 2016

An industrial office park on the outskirts of Liberty Hill, Texas, is an unlikely place for a revolution, but one is being manufactured there, next door to EcoWater Systems, around the corner from a street sign that reads REPORT POACHING TO GAME WARDEN. This is the humble home of Edel Golf. Inside the sweltering, 4,000-square-foot metal box it is a riot of clanking machinery. The place has the vibe of a mad scientist’s lab, which is how company founder David Edel likes it. Over here is a wedge with no grooves, over there a driver head made using a 3-D printer. Want an $8,000 set of irons with a gorgeous, hand-carved ivy design on the back of each clubhead? Yeah, he’s got those too, not to mention a hybrid head made of padauk, a rainforest wood. READ MORE

Dedman College Alumnus and Cardiologist John Harper prescribes a dose of good literature “to make us better people”

Dallas Morning News

Originally Posted: January 19, 2016

A doctor’s mission: Showing why literature matters to medicine

During four years of medical school, Dr. Susan Oh kept herself from reading books other than those related to her studies.

“Even though I wanted to, it would be like, ‘No, I need to further my knowledge and be the best physician I can be,’” says dermatology resident Oh, 42.

Then she met Dr. John Harper, the Texas Health Presbyterian Dallas cardiologist whose sixth annual “Literature + Medicine” conference will be held Tuesday. And she began to realize that her love of the written word could add an unexpected dimension to being a physician.

“Reading,” says Harper, who has an English degree from Southern Methodist University, “makes us better people, and better people are better doctors.”

In his Friday morning Coffee With Cardiology teaching sessions, which Oh attends even on her days off, Harper doesn’t just take residents and medical students on rounds and discusses cases. He also brings music for them to absorb and essays, poems and short stories for them to read — or, he says, to “lean in and listen” as he reads aloud. He accompanies his students to museums and invites them to his home to discuss literature. READ MORE

Dedman College alumnus and Pittsburgh Steelers offensive tackle, Kelvin Beachum: One of the NFL’s Good Guys

Cheat Sheet

Originally Posted: January 11, 2016

Catching Up With Kelvin Beachum: One of the NFL’s Good Guys

We recently sat down and had a conversation with Pittsburgh Steelers offensive tackle Kelvin Beachum to discuss everything from his rehab, to his personal life, to his football career, to his philanthropic work off the field.


Anytime the Pittsburgh Steelers take the field, it’s safe to assume that most of the 7,000 residents of the tiny rural town of Mexia, Texas are tuned in to watch their hometown hero, Kelvin Beachum, protect the blind side of future Hall of Fame quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. After defying the odds throughout his high school and college careers, Beachum had seemingly solidified the left tackle position for the Steelers ever since a rash of injuries forced him into the Pittsburgh starting lineup as a rookie back in 2012.

Coming into the 2015 season, Beachum, who was a 7th round pick in the 2012 NFL Draft, was set to play out the final year of his rookie contract with hopes of signing a life-changing contract extension during the 2016 offseason. And through the first five and a half games of the season, he was well on his way to landing the new deal he had rightfully earned over the last three seasons. Unfortunately, Beachum suffered a torn ACL in his left knee during the Steelers’ Week 6 win over the Arizona Cardinals, which effectively ended his 2015 season. READ MORE

Dedman College alumnus Brooks Thostenson`09 and Kyle Hawari, the buddies behind the snack bars packed with Taos Mountain energy and spirit

New Mexico Magazine

Originally Posted: January Issue

By JIM O’DONNELL | Photography by MINESH BACRANIATaosMountainEnergy_Main

IN THE WINTER of 2010, more than 200 inches of snow dumped on Taos Ski Valley, and Kyle Hawari and Brooks Thostenson, twentysomething buddies from Texas, didn’t waste a flake: They rocked an impressive 90 days on the slopes that season.

“We worked as night janitors at the gym so we could ski all day,” says Hawari, a towering former All-Ivy lineman at Yale. “It was an awesome year. But by spring we wondered: What do we want to do with our lives? We’d experienced the ski-bum life. We wanted to build something deeper.”

In the next year, they launched Taos Mountain Energy Bars, and success started coming as fast and steep as the slopes that inspired them. By 2015 they were selling 100,000 bars a month and racking up more than $3 million in sales in more than 1,500 locations nationwide. When the company opens a new production facility in Questa this spring, it will mark another landmark step. It will allow them to add another 15 employees to their operation, for a total of 30, and set their sights on annual sales of up to $50 million. That’s a lot of energy bars.

Friends since third grade, Thostenson and Hawari had discussed starting a business together as kids, but they went their separate ways after high school. Thostenson graduated from Southern Methodist University and cut his teeth selling life insurance in Dallas. Hawari’s career at Yale was interrupted by a severe knee injury his sophomore year; his search for a place to mend landed him in Taos, working at a coffee shop, biking, and taking physical therapy. Back at Yale a year later, Taos was still on his mind. He returned during the winter of 2009–10 and invited Thostenson to join him. They resumed their childhood conversation.

“Living in Taos, we saw this opening for food for an outdoor-lifestyle-oriented demographic,” says Hawari. “You know, something local, organic, that tastes good and appeals to people on the go.”

They envisioned a product that could meet the needs of a serious mountaineer like the legendary Everest guide and Taos ski patroller Dave Hahn. He says that when an athlete is under serious physical exertion in high, cold places, the appetite for dull food evaporates into the frigid wind. It’s hard to eat, yet you need to put fuel into your body.

“That’s what we wanted,” says Hawari: “a fundamentally different snack for outdoor athletes, inspired by the outdoors. It had to be created in a kitchen, not concocted in a lab. It had to taste good, provide a lot of energy, and reflect that ethos we found in Taos, both for quality ingredients and creativity.

“It took a lot of trial and error, but we got there.” READ MORE