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March 2, 2012                                                         Spring 2012 No. 2

Description: Description: Dr-Juliet-V-GarciaDear Colleagues,

 

Last week we dedicated our new Biomedical Research Building on campus. The event spotlighted the rich talent of our faculty and students who are pursuing life-changing research for diabetes, obesity, Alzheimer’s disease, tuberculosis and other infectious diseases.

 

The building was constructed with a $33.8 million investment by the State of Texas through tuition revenue bonds thanks to the advocacy of our legislative team led by Senator Eddie Lucio Jr. and Representatives Rene Oliveira and Eddie Lucio III.

 

The unique design and construction of the project was guided by a very talented group of professionals including the architects at SHW Group, SpawGlass Contractors, Inc., and the UT System Office of Facilities Planning and Construction, who worked in tandem to thoughtfully design the building to provide the highest security measures required by research protocols and encourage personal interaction between students and their professors. The two-year project created 84 on-site construction jobs, providing a boost to our economy as these employees lived and worked in our region.

 

Dr. Francisco G. Cigarroa, UT System Chancellor, was our special guest and keynote speaker for the building’s dedication. Dr. Cigarroa lauded the new facility as a place that “will bring together enormously talented faculty and students who will make discoveries that will transform our world.” Chancellor Cigarroa commended the extraordinary growth that UTB had experienced in research over the 20 years since having been established. In 1992, this institution only had two principal investigators engaged in research grants. Today, there are 72 generating annual research expenses of approximately $6.5 million annually. Of most importance to the Chancellor was the fact that UTB research faculty had developed the grants in such a way as to be able to provide jobs and stipends for more than 200 UTB students directly through research grant activities. Finally, Dr. Cigarroa described the economic impact that developing the biomedical industry will have on our region. He cited San Antonio as an example of a city where the biomedical industry generates $24 billion of annual activity and accounts for one of every six jobs. 

 

The dedication of the new Biomedical Research Building capitalizes on the synergy created from the recent Vista Summit held on our campus this last fall that brought together regional leaders in higher education, business, government and national philanthropic organizations all focused on the transformation of our region into a vibrant and dynamic community. It was at the Vista Summit that the Chancellor announced the $30 million dollar Rio Grande Valley Initiative funded by The UT System Board of Regents for the establishment of a simulated teaching hospital, to introduce the highly successful UTeach program in the Valley that will increase the number of new science and mathematics teachers, and the new STARS program that provides funds to attract “star” faculty to UTB and UTPA in the areas of science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

 

The $30 million RGV initiative is expected to create more than 1,200 jobs. Almost half of these will be in higher education, but positions will also be created in hospitals, scientific research and development services, food services, real estate, physicians’ offices and the banking industry. Forty-one million dollars will be generated in labor income

 

Always at the center of our mission are the lives of our students and how we can unlock the rich human potential they possess. As we design the new UT Brownsville, we will work to shine a light for our students down all of the pathways to graduate and professional schools throughout the UT System such as the newly developed 4+1 Joint Degree Program in Public Health, where a student can earn both a bachelor’s degree from UTB and a master’s degree from the UT Health Science Center Houston’s School of Public Health in only five years. We also have collaborative programs towards a Ph.D. in Physics with UT San Antonio and a Ph.D. in Biomedical Sciences with UT Medical Branch Galveston.

 

We will continue to work with The UT System and our sister schools to forge new routes to advanced degrees from UT Brownsville to begin the transformation of an entire generation of exceptional scientists who are bicultural, biliterate and who have unique and personal experience with the work that needs to be done in the field of biomedicine in South Texas.

 

The new Biomedical Research Building represents UT Brownsville’s commitment to innovation, experimentation and excellence. It also represents the commitment by the UT System Board of Regents and the UT System Chancellor to “plant a larger flag in deep South Texas.” 

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the university of texas at brownsville
office of the president

Gorgas hall • 80 fort brown • Brownsville texas, 78520

956-882-7140