Voelcker Academy trains next generation of San Antonio scientists

WHAT: Twenty-two high school sophomores learn the fundamentals of sophisticated laboratory techniques at The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio. The teenagers are the inaugural class of the Max and Minnie Tomerlin Voelcker Biomedical Research Academy, which seeks to develop the next generation of biomedical scientists for San Antonio. The students have spent their summer vacations learning lab techniques, which will prepare each student to work in the laboratory of a faculty mentor over the following two summers.

WHEN: Various times during the weeks of July 20 to 24 and July 27 to 31.
Best visuals are on Mondays and Wednesdays between 1 and 3:30 p.m. Call External Affairs to find out what is happening at other times.

WHERE: Joe R. and Teresa Lozano Long Campus of the UT Health Science Center, 7703 Floyd Curl Drive in the South Texas Medical Center.

WHO: The 22 sophomores represent four public school districts and a number of private high schools in the San Antonio area. They were selected through a competitive admissions process that included grade requirements, teacher recommendations and an essay.
They are led by Voelcker Academy co-directors Irene Chapa, Ph.D., director of the Health Science Center’s Office of Recruitment and Science Outreach, and Sophia Piña, Ph.D., assistant dean of the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences. The principal investigator for the Voelcker Academy is Brian A. Herman, Ph.D., vice president of research at the Health Science Center.
Established in 2006, The Max and Minnie Tomerlin Voelcker Fund and its trustees have invested nearly $4 million in biomedical research at the Health Science Center. Max and Minnie Tomerlin Voelcker, who died in 1980 and 2000 respectively, ran a successful dairy farm in San Antonio for many years. The Voelckers loved children and San Antonio and were deeply interested in medical research. The Voelcker Academy combines those passions.

NOTES: The teenagers will be learning a number of lab techniques over the course of the next two weeks. Among them:
• Restriction Enzyme Digestion is the technique used to cut DNA and RNA in very precise locations.
• Gel Electrophoresis is the process by which fragments of DNA or RNA are separated by size.
• Southern Blot checks for the presence of a DNA sequence in a DNA sample.
• ELISA (enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay) is used to detect the presence of an antibody or antigen in a sample.




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 $668 million, the Health Science Center is the chief catalyst for the $16.3 billion biosciences and health care sector in San Antonio’s economy. The Health Science Center has had an estimated $36 billion impact on the region since inception and has expanded to six campuses in San Antonio, Laredo, Harlingen and Edinburg. More than 25,600 graduates (physicians, dentists, nurses, scientists and other 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, dentistry and many other fields. For more information, visit www.uthscsa.edu.

Share This Article!