UT Health’s Sam & Ann Barshop Institute for Longevity & Aging Studies, one of the top-tier aging institutes in the country, entered a new era of research and discovery Oct. 17 as ground was broken for its new home in the South Texas Medical Center.
President William L. Henrich, M.D., MACP, welcomed dignitaries and guests to the ceremony.
The Barshop Institute, said Dr. Henrich, “ranks at the top of all aging institutes in the U.S., bringing together the world’s leading scientists in aging and longevity research, providing them with the latest technologies in the application of cutting-edge research methods, and supporting their drive for excellence in scientific inquiry.”
The new three-story, 108,000 gross-square-foot building will be located at the corner of Floyd Curl and Charles Katz drives, adjacent to UT Health’s Medical Arts & Research Center and across the street from UT Health’s Greehey campus. The total project cost $70.2 million.
The first floor of the new building will include open research labs, laboratory support, administrative and research faculty offices, and a large vivarium with support spaces and cage wash facilities. The second and third floors are shell space to accommodate future research labs and faculty offices. An open air bridge will cross over Floyd Curl and connect the Barshop to the South Texas Research Facility.
Dr. Henrich recognized Ann Barshop, who with her late husband, Sam, provided the philanthropic support in 2001 to propel the institute to new heights. “Thank you, Ann and family, for your dedication and generosity to the important basic science and translational work that this institute is committed to,” he said.
UT System Regent James C. “Rad” Weaver from San Antonio pointed to some of the scientific breakthroughs pioneered at the Barshop, including the compound rapamycin currently being tested in clinical trials for tumor suppression. And, he added, the biomedical research conducted at UT Health San Antonio “is a significant economic driver in our community, accounting for the $37 billion health care and bioscience industry.”
Also speaking at the groundbreaking was William H. McRaven, chancellor of the University of Texas System, who called on the scientists and researchers at the Barshop “to be bold, to take risks, to challenge conventional wisdom and push through boundaries. You cannot get to greatness by being timid. And greatness is what we have come to expect from you.”
Joe Straus, speaker of the Texas House of Representatives who represents San Antonio in the Legislature, praised UT Health San Antonio as “the premier academic research center in San Antonio and South Texas.”
The speaker pointed out that Texas, because of its appeal to retirees, currently has more than 3.2 million people who are 65 years of age or older. “And San Antonio is in the middle of this because of the many military retirees here. These aging Americans will need and benefit from the research conducted here,” Straus said.
Also speaking at the ceremony was Nicolas Musi, M.D., director of the Barshop Institute, who recognized and thanked all the members of the Barshop family who were present. He said the day represented “a pivotal moment in my life.”
Finally, Ann Barshop talked about the vision of the institute and praised Dr. Henrich for spearheading the construction of the new building. “Sam would have been very, very proud,” she said. “We all want to grow old,” she said, “as slowly as possible and with vitality.”
This idea of a world-class center for aging research first came into focus in 1991, when Dr. Edward J. Masoro founded the UT Health Science Center’s Aging Research and Education Center through a leadership award granted to him by the National Institutes of Health.
In 2001, the Barshop Institute for Longevity & Aging Studies was born thanks to a generous donation from Sam and Ann Barshop, prominent San Antonio philanthropists.
Since that time, the Barshop has grown into one of the world’s premier aging research centers. Barshop researchers move the science of healthy aging from the idea stage to preclinical and animal studies, and then into proving that an intervention works in humans.
The Barshop Institute is now the only aging-intensive research institute in the country to have the following four designations: two NIA-funded centers (Nathan Shock and Claude D. Pepper), a testing site of the NIA-sponsored Interventions Testing Program, and a U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Geriatric Research, Education and Clinical Center.
Construction on the new building should begin this fall with an estimated completion date of late 2019. Alamo Architects designed the building and J.T. Vaughn Construction LLC will serve as construction managers.