$600,000 cancer research fund announced in honor of John and Debbie Montford; gala raises $5.6 million

SAN ANTONIO (Sept. 26, 2010) — The $600,000 John T. and Debbie Montford Cancer Research Fund has been established at the UT Health Science Center San Antonio. The new fund, named in honor of the longtime senator, philanthropist and businessman and his wife, was announced by William L. Henrich, M.D., MACP, president of the Health Science Center. The Montford Fund is part of $5.6 million raised at the Health Science Center’s fourth gala, held Saturday evening [Sept. 25] at the Grand Hyatt San Antonio.

General Motors Chairman Edward E. Whitacre Jr. and his wife, Linda, served as honorary co-chairs of the President’s Gala for the Future of Health. About 1,000 faculty, staff, students and community leaders attended.

“It might be asked, what are we trying to accomplish at the Health Science Center? Where do we want to go? We want to be acknowledged among the very best academic health centers in our country, bar none,” Dr. Henrich said from the platform. He praised the efforts of faculty members and noted that in the last four years, out of 131 academic medical centers in the U.S., the Health Science Center ranked eighth in terms of scientific peer-reviewed research growth.

Dr. Henrich said the Montfords are shining examples of those in the city, county and state who are devoted to the development of the institution. “We are greatly indebted to this community, which has opened its hearts and treasure in support of the Health Science Center,” Dr. Henrich said.

“A key ingredient in the success of the Health Science Center is the support of the community,” Ed Whitacre said. “John and Debbie Montford have been champions of that community support for years.”

John Montford served as president of the Health Science Center Development Board from 2007 to 2010. His wife is active in the community and has been a major supporter of the San Antonio Symphony. The couple is passing the Development Board mantle this fall to Ed Kelley, former president and CEO of the USAA Real Estate Co., and his wife, Nancy.

Joe R. Straus III, speaker of the Texas House, presented a painting of the San Antonio River to the Montfords. “What a jewel in the crown of San Antonio is our Health Science Center, and tonight we honor two more jewels in our community’s crown, Debbie and John Montford,” Straus said.

Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst said of his former colleague: “John Montford was an old-style elected official who considered himself a public servant. He sought office to serve the people and that is exactly what he did.” Dewhurst presented inscribed medallions to the honorees. Montford served six terms in the Senate from 1983 to 1996.

“Debbie and I are big supporters of education,” Montford said. “We believe there is nothing more important than education to build a competitive workforce, the economy and a strong democracy. No matter what the question, education is part of the answer.”

He urged his fellow community leaders to strongly support cancer research at the university, including the Cancer Therapy & Research Center (CTRC) at the UT Health Science Center San Antonio. Debbie Montford serves on the CTRC Board of Governors.

Presidential Circle sponsors of the gala were the General Motors Foundation and the AT&T Foundation.

The Health Science Center has more than 5,700 employees and an enrollment of 4,364 students, residents and fellows. The university’s five schools offer more than 70 health science-related degree specialties at eight campuses.


The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, one of the country’s leading health sciences universities, ranks in the top 3 percent of all institutions worldwide receiving National Institutes of Health (NIH) funding. Research and other sponsored program activity totaled a record $259 million in fiscal year 2009. The university’s schools of medicine, nursing, dentistry, health professions and graduate biomedical sciences have produced approximately 26,000 graduates. The $739 million operating budget supports eight campuses in San Antonio, Laredo, Harlingen and Edinburg. For more information on the many ways “We make lives better®,” visit www.uthscsa.edu.

Share This Article!