SAN ANTONIO (June 23, 2011) — San Antonio Mayor Julián Castro and City Manager Sheryl Sculley, with full support of the City Council, today announced a $3.3 million grant to the UT Health Science Center San Antonio to finish construction of its South Texas Research Facility (STRF). The $150 million STRF, the largest research building ever erected in Bexar County, will house at least 350 scientists and staff.
The City of San Antonio will provide the $3.3 million in three equal, annual installments to the San Antonio Economic Development Corporation. This corporation, created by the city in May 2010, will then enter into an agreement with the Health Science Center to invest the city’s funds toward construction and finish out improvements of the STRF, an impressive structure that stretches for two-tenths of a mile along Floyd Curl Drive in the South Texas Medical Center.
The STRF, designed by world-renowned architect Rafael Viñoly, is planned as the focal piece to bring together researchers and students from several Health Science Center components located on the same campus as the STRF — the Greehey Children’s Cancer Research Institute, the Cancer Therapy & Research Center, the Research Imaging Institute, and the Medical Arts & Research Center.
“The City is proud to support both the improvements that will be made in human health and the economic vitality that will emanate from this great research building,” Mayor Castro said.
At 1,000 feet or three football fields long, the STRF’s span is greater than the downtown Tower of the Americas if the Tower were laid on its side. The STRF will have an open laboratory design. This will encourage collaborative interactions among researchers, sparking new ideas and directions for investigations.
The STRF will contain 125,000 square feet of laboratories and state-of-the-art equipment such as a new ultra-high-resolution optical microscope that is the first of its kind in Texas.
“This building will be the site of discoveries in four theme areas — cancer, healthy aging, the neurosciences and regenerative medicine,” said William L. Henrich, M.D., MACP, president of the Health Science Center. “The STRF adds needed research space that will enable us to recruit 15 to 20 top scientists and their associates.”
The City established the San Antonio Economic Development Corporation, an independent nonprofit organization, to invest city funds in economic development projects such as the STRF and at the same time get a potential return on the city’s investment, Sculley said. “San Antonio has a diverse economic portfolio and the biosciences are a key part of it,” she said. “The Economic Development Corporation provides a vehicle to invigorate all our economy and spur the development of new start-up companies.”
Under its grant agreement with the Health Science Center, the corporation will receive a small percentage of the Health Science Center’s net equity proceeds derived from the university’s equity investment in start-up companies over the term of the agreement. These start-up companies are established as a result of the discovery and development by university researchers of intellectual property that has potential commercial value.
The STRF is located at the Health Science Center’s Greehey Academic and Research Campus and is in City Council District 8, which is represented by Councilman W. Reed Williams.
“The completion of the STRF is not only a great addition to the many medical and medical research facilities already located in District 8, but this state-of-the-art research facility will be of great benefit to all of San Antonio and South Texas,” Councilman Williams said.
In addition to the four research theme areas, the STRF will house offices of the Institute for Integration of Medicine and Science, which is home of the Health Science Center’s Clinical and Translational Science Award (CTSA). The CTSA is a National Institutes of Health award to promote translation of science from the lab bench to clinical trials and out into communities. Offices for South Texas Technology Management, the commercialization arm of a number of community partners, will also be located in this building.
The building includes a solar project that is funded by an American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) grant through the State Energy Conservation Office and City Public Service. Crews installed 416 panels on the roof of the building and 342 panels over parking spaces at no cost to the Health Science Center. Each panel is made from monocrystalline silicon. Projected savings is 210,000 kilowatt hours per year or almost $15,000 a year.
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 federal funding. Research and other sponsored program activity totaled $228 million in fiscal year 2010. The university’s schools of medicine, nursing, dentistry, health professions and graduate biomedical sciences have produced approximately 26,000 graduates. The $744 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.