President’s Council awards prestigious chair to leading AIDS researcher

Dr. Cigarroa and the President’s Council presented the 2005 President’s Council Chair for Excellence in Medical Research to Sunil K. Ahuja, M.D.

The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio’s President’s Council gathered Nov. 16 at the Marriott Riverwalk for an annual luncheon emphasizing the importance of endowments and honoring the donors who make them possible. Francisco G. Cigarroa, M.D, president of the Health Science Center, presented the 2005 President’s Council Chair for Excellence in Medical Research to world-renowned physician-scientist, Sunil K. Ahuja, M.D.

“Because of the generosity of the President’s Council and our wonderful donors who are with us today, I am proud to award the President’s Council Chair for Excellence in Medical Research to one of the Health Science Center’s most distinguished physicians, Dr. Sunil Ahuja,” Dr. Cigarroa said as he named Dr. Ahuja to the $500,000 endowed chair.

Dr. Ahuja is a professor of medicine (infectious diseases), microbiology and immunology at the Health Science Center and director of the Veterans Administration Center for HIV/AIDS Research. Within nine years, Dr. Ahuja has brought more than $18 million in federal research funding to the Health Science Center for the study of HIV-1 genetics.

“Dr. Ahuja is changing the way the scientific world looks at infectious diseases, particularly HIV and the AIDS epidemic,” Dr. Cigarroa said.

Dr. Ahuja was recently recognized with a rare and prestigious MERIT Award from the National Institutes of Health. Fewer than 5 percent of NIH-funded investigators are selected to receive this honor. He has consistently published articles in prominent peer-reviewed journals, including Science, Nature Medicine and Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Dr. Cigarroa recognized several other distinguished faculty members who hold endowed professorships or chairs, and thanked the donors who have made it possible to establish a President’s Council endowed chair each year.
“Endowments are what shape our university and the future of health care,” Dr. Cigarroa said. “And we wouldn’t have these chairs without the support of our donors.”

Other dignitaries in attendance included Dolph Briscoe Jr., former governor of Texas; Joci Straus, Health Science Center Development Board president; and Luis de la Garza and Tullos Wells, President’s Council co-chairs.

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