The Institute for Rehabilitation and Research was opened by William Spencer, MD, as the Southwestern Poliomyelitis Respiratory Center in 1951 at the peak of the US polio epidemic. It officially became The Texas Institute for Rehabilitation and Research in 1959, then just The Institute for Rehabilitation and Research in 1978. After the development of a vaccine in the early 1960s, Dr. Spencer shifted the practice to the rehabilitation of the catastrophically injured. As it expanded, the Institute recruited doctors who would become major contributors in specific areas of concern, such as Gunyon Harrison (pediatric cystic fibrosis), Carlos Vallbona (physiology and cardiology), Paul Harrington (orthopedic surgeon and developer of Harrington rods); and Bobby Alford (ENT). TIRR is affiliated with Baylor College of Medicine and the McGovern Medical School, and joined Memorial Hermann in 2006.