House Bill 153, recently passed by the state Legislature and signed into law by Gov. Rick Perry, is a milestone piece of legislation in the life of The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, and it will fund a signature research facility that will transform the face of the South Texas Medical Center, Health Science Center President Francisco G. Cigarroa, M.D., said July 11 at a campus visit by Gov. Perry.
The bill represents the largest Tuition Revenue Bond package for higher education ever passed by the Texas Legislature, nearly $1.9 billion. In addition, the $60 million for the Health Science Center is the largest in the Center’s history.
Gov. Perry, an aggressive proponent of higher education, medicine and the biosciences, selected the Health Science Center as the site of his San Antonio visit. “The pleasure of hosting the Governor’s visit was all ours, because this Governor is one who understands the value of research and development, of investing in the health and well-being of all Texans, and of enhancing the education of health care professionals for the South Texas Border Region that we serve,” Dr. Cigarroa said.
The Health Science Center will receive $60 million in Tuition Revenue Bonds to partially fund significant construction of a $150 million research building called the South Texas Research Facility in the 8400 block of Floyd Curl Drive in the South Texas Medical Center. The remainder of the funding for the building will be from philanthropic and other sources. The building will be adjacent to the Children’s Cancer Research Institute, a premier facility that the Health Science Center opened in 2004, and will be across the street from the future Medical Arts Research Center, a $95 million clinical facility approved recently by The University of Texas System Board of Regents.
“This Health Science Center has a proud history of signature achievements, crowned by the development of the Palmaz Stent, which has changed the face of treatment of cardiovascular and peripheral vascular disease,” Dr. Cigarroa said. “With the current developments in San Antonio and new initiatives in Harlingen, Edinburg and Laredo, the Health Science Center is on a rapid upward climb to even greater research discoveries that are sure to be translated into clinical practice, while serving as an ever-increasing stimulus to our state’s economy. We couldn’t be prouder that Gov. Perry chose to visit our Health Science Center to sign this historic legislation.”
In addition to Gov. Perry, Dr. Cigarroa singled out for praise the Bexar County and South Texas delegations, and Sen. Judith Zaffirini, Ph.D., for her leadership as chairman of the Senate Subcommittee on Capital Funding for Higher Education.
When completed, the South Texas Research Facility will add 250,000 gross square feet of new research space to the Health Science Center and help address the institution’s space deficit, which has increased as its internationally recognized research enterprise has grown.
“The South Texas Research Facility will very positively impact our ability to conduct basic and translational research,” Dr. Cigarroa said. “We will focus on diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, infectious diseases, cancer biology, age-related neurodegenerative diseases, and developing technologies to protect our nation from bioterrorism. Plans also are in place for a new program in metabolic biology and regenerative medicine that will take good advantage of our partnerships with the military and The University of Texas at San Antonio. The latter partnership is through the San Antonio Life Sciences Institute we have established together.”