Valero donates $5 million for transplants, other HSC programs

San Antonio – Valero Energy Corporation Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Bill Klesse announced Aug. 29 that the company is donating $5 million to The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio.

It is one of the largest private gifts in the Health Science Center’s history and continues Valero’s own rich history of helping the community.

UTHSC President Francisco G. Cigarroa, M.D., said the generous gift enables the Health Science Center to establish a distinguished chair for a faculty-appointed transplant surgeon.

The gift also makes possible the creation of excellence funds supporting innovative transplantation biology research, oral health programs to reach the disadvantaged, an M.D./Ph.D. dual-degree program, and medical humanities and ethics education.

“Valero Energy Corporation is making a $5 million investment that will have a world-changing impact,” Dr. Cigarroa said. “Our vision is to use it to train compassionate leaders in academic medicine whose future work will provide the gifts of health and life for all.”

The Valero gift is broken into:

  • $1 million for the Valero President’s Distinguished Chair in Transplantation
  • $1 million for the Valero Excellence Fund in Transplantation Biology
  • $1 million for the Valero Excellence Fund in Oral Health
  • $1 million for the Valero M.D./Ph.D. Excellence Fund
  • $1 million for the Valero Excellence Fund in Medical Humanities and Ethics

“Valero’s employees and stockholders recognize the important work the Health Science Center is doing, and we’re glad to be able to help the people there in their efforts,” Klesse said. “We also appreciate the stewardship and leadership that Dr. Cigarroa and others at the Health Science Center are showing in the ways that they’ll use these funds. Valero is very supportive of the fact that the UTHSC is extremely important to San Antonio and the surrounding region.”

The Health Science Center soon will announce the identity of the first surgeon to occupy the Valero President’s Distinguished Chair in Transplantation. The honoree will be a member of the team of physicians who make up The Transplant Center at the Health Science Center and who perform the transplants at University Hospital.

“This chair will acknowledge the lifesaving benefits our transplant surgeons provide to citizens of this region, including Valero employees and their families,” Dr. Cigarroa said.

Bringing home that point was Valero employee Bob Peugh, who received a liver transplant performed by Health Science Center surgeon Kenneth Washburn, M.D., in February 2005.

“I’m very encouraged by this gift,” said Peugh, a director of marketing in Valero’s propane sales department who had encouraged Valero to support the UTHSC’s transplant efforts. “I have worked for Valero for more than 30 years, and I wrote a letter to Bill Klesse in early 2006 to say that we should support the center. For me, this is wonderful.”

The Valero Excellence Fund in Transplantation Biology will fund new laboratory equipment and scientific infrastructure for the nationally ranked transplant program. Advances in understanding the biology of transplants would improve future care for critically ill patients throughout the region who require organ transplantation.

The Transplant Center’s strengths include a widely respected liver transplant program headed by Center Director Glenn Halff, M.D. Last year, the center performed its 1,000th liver transplant.

One of the team members is Dr. Cigarroa, who remains on call as a pediatric and transplant surgeon. He is the only president of a U.S. academic health science center who continues to regularly perform pediatric and transplant surgery.

The Valero Excellence Fund in Oral Health closely mirrors the company’s commitment to the communities it serves. This program will enhance the delivery of compassionate oral health care for patients and support community volunteer programs that offer oral health care to those in greatest need, including the homeless.

The fund will especially emphasize programs for disease prevention relating to critical oral health issues in San Antonio and the border region. Diabetes, heart disease, HIV and preterm birth are among the conditions thought to be associated with poor oral health.

The Valero M.D./Ph.D. Excellence Fund will promote the development of future stars in academic medicine with an emphasis on research and discovery that is drawn from firsthand experience at the bedside.

“The $1 million investment by Valero will be used to strengthen and expand this strategic initiative, which seeks to increase the number of Ph.D.-trained physicians who will have the research framework to compete for research grants from the National Institutes of Health and other federal agencies,” Dr. Cigarroa said.

The Valero Excellence Fund in Medical Humanities and Ethics will support health education, community outreach and services to address the needs of disadvantaged patients. The Health Science Center program teaches the art and science of compassionate medicine and instills an attitude of attentiveness and care for patients that will stay with students throughout their medical careers.

Dr. Cigarroa praised Valero for stepping to the plate to make such a significant donation. It is one of the key gifts in the Health Science Center’s Campaign for the Future of Health, which seeks to raise $150 million in private donations in addition to $150 million in public funding.

“Valero has touched every part of our mission in a transformative way, from superb education to compassionate care to leading-edge biosciences research,” Dr. Cigarroa said. “This corporate partner has embraced our vision to rank among the top 10 percent of all academic health centers in the United States. Valero has made a remarkable gift to the citizens of South Texas and the future of world health.”

About Valero Energy Corporation

Valero Energy Corporation is a Fortune 500 company based in San Antonio, with approximately 22,000 employees and annual revenues of more than $90 billion. The company owns and operates 18 refineries throughout the United States, Canada and the Caribbean with a combined throughput capacity of approximately 3.3 million barrels per day, making it the largest refiner in North America. Valero is also one of the nation’s largest retail operators with more than 5,500 retail and branded wholesale outlets in the United States, Canada and the Caribbean under various brand names including Valero, Diamond Shamrock, Shamrock, Ultramar and Beacon.

About The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio

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 $536 million, the Health Science Center is the chief catalyst for the $14.3 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 22,000 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.

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