Zapata native to become UT Health Science Center’s first distinguished university chair for Laredo campus

What: The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio will announce its first distinguished university chair for the Laredo Campus Extension. The announcement will be made at a luncheon honoring the Honorable Solomon Casseb Jr. and Joseph C. Martin III, trustees of the Lamar Bruni Vergara Trust. The trust provided a $2 million gift in April 2007 to establish this chair.

When: 12:30 p.m. on Wednesday, April 16.

Where: The Administration Building at the Laredo Campus Extension, 1937 Bustamante Street.

Who: Minerva Garcia, D.D.S., a native of Zapata, Texas, will occupy the Lamar Bruni Vergara Trust Distinguished University Chair in Oral Health, in appreciation of The Honorable Solomon Casseb, Jr., and Mr. Joseph C. Martin, III, Trustees.

Dr. Garcia will direct the UT Health Science Center’s Pediatric Dentistry Residency Program in Laredo, under the auspices of the Pediatric Dentistry Program in San Antonio. Dr. Garcia is a graduate of Zapata High School and the UT Health Science Center. Her husband, Louis Garcia, D.D.S., a native of Laredo, will direct the Advanced Education in General Dentistry Program. The residency programs will begin this summer, with dental residents providing care for qualified Laredo area adults and children in a renovated dental clinic provided through a partnership with the Laredo Health Department and the City of Laredo.

Why: South Texas is a medically underserved region where many residents do not have access to or the ability to pay for health and dental care. For this reason, UT Health Science Center President Francisco G. Cigarroa, M.D., has set a long-term vision of establishing a Border Regional Academic Health Center in Dentistry through the Laredo Campus Extension. Naming local leadership for the dental residencies through the appointment of the distinguished university chair is the next step in this plan.

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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 $576 million and 5,000 faculty and staff, the UT Health Science Center is the chief catalyst for the $15.3 billion biosciences and health care sector in San Antonio’s economy. The UT Health Science Center has had an estimated $35 billion impact on the region since inception and has expanded to seven 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, orthopedics, research imaging, transplant surgery, psychiatry and clinical neurosciences, pain management, genetics, nursing, allied health, dentistry and many other fields. For more information, visit

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