San Antonio (December 9, 2003) – The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio (UTHSC) is embarking on its first capital campaign – a $300 million private-public initiative to build a landscape-changing Research Tower in the South Texas Medical Center and recruit leading scientists for it. Francisco G. Cigarroa, M.D., president of the Health Science Center, made the announcement Dec. 8 during his annual State of the University address.
“For possibly the first time in South Texas history, a dazzling array of community and South Texas leaders has joined forces to support a project of this magnitude,” Dr. Cigarroa said. “This campaign will raise $150 million for a Research Tower in the Medical Center and, equally important, $150 million for an endowment to attract and retain the most outstanding scientists. This initiative will result in a quantum leap in intellectual power in San Antonio and move the UT Health Science Center to its rightful status as a top-tier research institution.”
The Research Tower proposal calls for a building of up to 300,000 square feet and as many as 20 stories tall. “It will be a building that will transform the South Texas Medical Center,” Dr. Cigarroa said. The Medical Center is the hub of health care and research in San Antonio and is a major site for the $11 billion-a-year biosciences industry, the largest sector in the city’s economy. The UTHSC is the premier health research institution in South Texas.
“The success of the campaign will allow us to recruit members of the National Academy of Sciences and Institute of Medicine who will work on world-changing research including vascular and metabolic biology, neurobiology, developmental and regenerative biology, cancer biology, and biodefense and infection,” Dr. Cigarroa said.
The five-year campaign is scheduled to begin in January and conclude in 2008.
A video about the Research Tower and capital campaign stated: “The time is here … the leaders are among us … we will build the most dominant research building South Texas has ever seen.” Dr. Cigarroa said the campaign would be statewide in scope.
Dr. Cigarroa praised the UTHSC faculty for a substantial increase in grant awards from the National Institutes of Health. NIH awards rose from $51 million in Fiscal Year 2000 to $82 million in Fiscal Year 2003 and all Health Science Center awards, including other federal grants and non-federal grants, increased from $137 million to $166 million during the three-year period.
The president applauded university partners such as the University Health System, the South Texas Veterans Health Care System, the Cancer Therapy and Research Center, Wilford Hall Medical Center and Brooke Army Medical Center. “The Health Science Center, long actively involved with military partners, is entering new levels of collaborations in the post-September 11 era,” he said. “We are proud to have an active Center for Public Health Preparedness and Biomedical Research. We are also proud that Gov. Rick Perry selected our campus as the home of the first unit of the Texas State Guard Medical Reserve Corps.”
Dr. Cigarroa thanked U.S. Rep. Henry Bonilla, U.S. Sen. John Cornyn and U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison for leading initiatives that resulted in multimillion-dollar funding for UTHSC projects. He also thanked state leaders including Gov. Perry, Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst and House Speaker Tom Craddick for their recent announcement of enhanced support for the RAHC.
Dr. Cigarroa said the UTHSC has more than $120 million in ongoing construction projects that will boost the institution’s ability to serve South Texas. These include the Laredo Extension Campus, the Regional Academic Health Center (RAHC) Medical Research Division under construction at Edinburg, the Children’s Cancer Research Institute in the South Texas Medical Center, the Sam and Ann Barshop Center for Longevity and Aging Studies under construction in the Texas Research Park near San Antonio, and the Student Services/Academic Administration Building rising on the UTHSC Central Campus in the Medical Center. He said administrators are developing a five-year strategic plan for the Laredo campus and envision the Edinburg campus as a site for research to eradicate diseases affecting the border region.