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Regents Approve Naming Biomedical Building After Colom 

BROWNSVILLE, TEXAS – MAY 15, 2014 – The University of Texas Board of Regents approved the renaming of the Biomedical Sciences and Health Professions Building II in honor of Dr. Luis V. Colom, the former Vice President of the Division of Research and the Dean of the College of Nursing and Dean of the College of Biomedical Sciences and Health Professions at The University of Texas at Brownsville, at their meeting on Thursday, May 15.

Dr. Luis ColomThe $4.9 million building was funded by the National Institute of Health through a grant Colom wrote. The building, which opened in September 2013, will now be known as the Luis V. Colom Biomedical Research Facility. Colom, a native of Uruguay, lost his battle against cancer in late March.

“It is fitting that we name the Luis V. Colom Biomedical Research Facility in honor of a well-respected scholar, master teacher and research scientist who was a passionate advocate of the sciences at UT Brownsville,” said UT System Chancellor Francisco G. Cigarroa, M.D. “ During his 13 years at UTB, Dr. Colom attracted major support for research funding, greatly increased the number of science majors and quadrupled the biology and biomedical faculty. He was an enthusiastic and charismatic leader who inspired hundreds of students to become scientists and physicians. This facility is a wonderful tribute that will carry his name forever.”

Colom was recruited to the university in 2001 as an Associate Professor. Inevitably, his skill in attracting research funding and growing more majors led to his being selected as Chair of the Department of Biological Sciences. During his chairmanship, the biology and biomedical faculty almost quadrupled from 8 to 30. The number of principal investigators overseeing grants on campus also grew from just a few to 59 today. Through discipline, diplomacy, talent, and most of all, a lot of hard work, Colom helped lead his colleagues in creating one of the most vibrant departments on campus. In December 2009, he was named UT Brownville’s first Vice President for Research.

“Dr. Colom gave so generously to his students, to science and to this beloved university,” said Dr. Juliet V. García, President of UTB. “He taught us how to be valiant and optimistic and brave. I thank the Board of Regents for honoring our dedicated colleague and treasured friend, who we miss so very much.”

During his time at UTB, Colom personally attracted more than $13.4 million in research grants and helped make the compelling case for its first biomedical research building funded at $23.5 million by the Texas Legislature. His department’s success created the need for even more research labs, so in 2009 he wrote the federal grant to seek additional funding for what eventually became Biomedical Sciences and Health Professions Building II. 

Dr. Cristina Bañuelos, a 2006 UTB master’s degree in biology graduate and a 2014 graduate of the College of Medicine at the University of Florida with a doctoral degree in neuroscience, said Colom believed in the potential of all his students. She dedicated her dissertation to him because of his mentorship.

Biomedical building“He will never see my dissertation dedication page, but I can picture the grin on his face if he had,” said Bañuelos.

During his leadership as Dean and Vice President, Colom organized symposiums on Alzheimer’s disease. He believed such events were vital for the university’s contribution to the community it serves, while giving students and faculty an opportunity to showcase their research.

Colom received his medical and doctoral degrees from Facultad de Ciencias y Facultad de Medicina, Universidad de la República Oriental del Uruguay and received extensive research training in Spain, Canada, and at Baylor College of Medicine. Colom has also held research and academic positions at the University of Calgary in Canada and the Baylor College of Medicine in Houston.

The building was recently named Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design Certified by the U.S. Green Building Council. It is the first LEED Certified building at UTB. The 4,299-square-foot building has faculty offices, support space and six Biosafety Level 2 laboratories built to Center for Disease Control and Prevention Standards.

Contributions in honor of Colom can be made to the university’s Dr. Luis V. Colom Memorial Scholarship.

Related news releases:
Community Gathers to Remember Beloved Friend, Scientist, Visionary.
Biomedical Sciences and Health Professions Building II Receives LEED Certification


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