UTHSC, UTSA ink San Antonio Life Sciences Institute pact

President Francisco G. Cigarroa, M.D., (right) and UTSA President Ricardo Romo, Ph.D., sign the SALSI agreement at the UTHSC Dec. 1.

San Antonio (Dec. 9, 2003) – Francisco G. Cigarroa, M.D., president of The University of Texas  Health Science Center at San Antonio (UTHSC), and Ricardo Romo, Ph.D., president of The  University of Texas at San Antonio, signed an agreement Monday (Dec. 1) that provides  governing guidelines for the new San Antonio Life Sciences Institute (SALSI), an initiative  designed to strengthen collaboration between the two institutions and enhance their research,  teaching and service missions.

In a ceremony at the UTHSC, Presidents Cigarroa and Romo recognized Sen. Leticia Van de  Putte and Rep. Robert Puente, the members of the Bexar County legislative delegation who  authored H.B. 1716 and its companion bill, S.B. 728, during the 77th session of the Legislature.  This legislation authorized creation of the SALSI. “The entire Bexar County delegation supported  the effort, and we thank each member,” Dr. Cigarroa said. “We especially commend Sen. Van de  Putte and Rep. Puente, who with great vision and determination championed the establishment of the San Antonio Life Sciences Institute.”

“We are grateful to be partners with the Health Science Center and grateful to have such outstanding legislators who represent Bexar County and surrounding areas,” Dr. Romo said. “They have come through time and again for education and research in San Antonio.”

Expanded collaboration between the UTHSC and the UTSA is expected to enhance research funding at both institutions and provide new education and advanced degree opportunities for students, such as a graduate program in biomedical engineering that the two universities began this fall. “We also want to look outside our institutions,” Dr. Cigarroa said. “The emergent biomedical/biotechnology industry offers a unique opportunity for us to develop university/industry partnerships, to help San Antonio become a major player in the industries of the future, and to become major drivers of the San Antonio economy.”

SALSI will have no employees on its payroll. All persons participating in the Institute will be employees of either the UTHSC or the UTSA.

(L-R)President Cigarroa, Sen. Leticia Van de Putte, Rep. Robert Puente, UT System Regent Cyndi Taylor Krier and UTSA President Ricardo Romo celebrate the signing of the SALSI agreement. Van de Putte and Puente are members of the Bexar County legislative delegation who authored H.B. 1716 and its companion bill, S.B. 728, during the 77th session of the Legislature. This legislation authorized creation of the SALSI.

The primary revenue sources for SALSI projects will be externally funded grants and contracts. Additional sources may include direct appropriations from the Texas Legislature, congressional set-asides, The University of Texas System Board of Regents, and private contributions. Both federal and state legislative special item requests for the SALSI will be made jointly by the UTHSC and the UTSA.

A SALSI subcommittee with equal representation from both institutions has been formed and is functioning as a part of the UTHSC’s Executive Research Committee, which has considerable experience in managing this type of program. Soon the Life Sciences Institute will issue requests for proposals of collaborative projects. Initial SALSI funding of $4.5 million for operating expenses is from the universities ($1 million each) and The University of Texas System ($2.5 million). The UTSA will commit $2 million from its Lutcher Brown Endowment to support two faculty members who will have joint appointments at the two institutions.

Areas of study in the SALSI will only be limited by the imaginations of the faculties of the two institutions, leaders said.

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