SAN ANTONIO (Sept. 11, 2008) — Francisco G. Cigarroa, M.D., president of The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, was honored Sept. 10 by the Universidad Autonoma de Nuevo Leon with an honorary doctoral degree for his distinguished contributions to medicine, especially in the area of organ transplantation.
Educated at Yale, Harvard and Johns Hopkins, Dr. Cigarroa completed 12 years of postgraduate training before joining the Health Science Center in 1995 as a faculty member in the Department of Surgery. In 1997, Dr. Cigarroa was part of the first surgical team to split a donated liver between two recipients. He also headed the team in 2000 that performed the first successful pediatric small bowel transplant in South Texas.
Before being named president of the UT Health Science Center in 2000, Dr. Cigarroa served as director of pediatric surgery and director of abdominal organ transplantation. He still performs pediatric transplant surgery on a regular basis, in addition to his duties as president.
In accepting the award, Dr. Cigarroa thanked Dr. Jose Antonio Gonzalez Trevino, rector of the Universidad Autonoma de Nuevo Leon, for the prestigious honor. “My family has a deep and rich history from Mexico,” Dr. Cigarroa said. “I am proud to say that I am a third-generation physician whose family began its legacy in medicine through education in Mexico.” In addition to Dr. Cigarroa’s grandfather and father, he has three brothers who are physicians.
“Infectious diseases know no borders. Both of our great nations are facing these dangers and it is our duty to ensure a safe and healthy environment for all people,” Dr. Cigarroa said. “That is one of the many reasons why the UT Health Science Center has established campuses along the Texas-Mexico border and why we have initiated partnerships with universities in Mexico that have programs in health care, education, research and the prevention of diseases, such as diabetes and tuberculosis, which affect both of our populations.
“Pediatric transplant surgery has blessed my life a thousand-fold,” Dr. Cigarroa continued. “I have received more than I could have ever imagined. I have witnessed incredible scientific techniques and biological advancements for the betterment of humankind. I work with some of the most outstanding individuals — patients, families, doctors and nurses — during a critical time of need. And most of all, I have the privilege of being entrusted with caring for other human beings.”
Under Dr. Cigarroa’s leadership, the Health Science Center has been ranked among the top public universities in the continental United States for Hispanics enrolled in medical school. The Health Science Center has six campuses, three along the border with Mexico, and is a recognized national leader in many fields of health care.
The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio is the leading research institution in South Texas and one of the major health sciences universities in the world. With an operating budget of $674 million, the Health Science Center is the chief catalyst for the $15.3 billion biosciences and health care sector in San Antonio’s economy. The Health Science Center has had an estimated $35 billion impact on the region since inception and has expanded to six campuses in San Antonio, Laredo, Harlingen and Edinburg. More than 23,000 graduates (physicians, dentists, nurses, scientists and allied health professionals) serve in their fields, including many in Texas. Health Science Center faculty are international leaders in cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, aging, stroke prevention, kidney disease, orthopaedics, research imaging, transplant surgery, psychiatry and clinical neurosciences, pain management, genetics, nursing, allied health, dentistry and many other fields. For more information, visit www.uthscsa.edu.