According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, cancer is the second leading cause of death in America, exceeded only by heart disease. Every year, cancer is diagnosed in more than 1 million people in the United States. The Max and Minnie Tomerlin Voelcker Fund is dedicated to helping make much-needed new and effective life-saving treatments for cancer possible.
Their generous gift of $2 million will establish The Max and Minnie Tomerlin Voelcker Distinguished University Chair in Targeted Cancer Therapy at the Health Science Center.
“The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio is recognized as a premier research institution in South Texas and the nation,” said Mr. Banks M. Smith, trustee of The Max and Minnie Tomerlin Voelcker Fund. “The Voelcker Fund is confident in the talents and expertise of the outstanding investigators at the Health Science Center, and we believe this gift will help them find a cure for cancer.”
Tyler J. Curiel, M.D., M.P.H., director of the San Antonio Cancer Institute (SACI), said the Voelcker Fund will play a crucial role in his immunotherapy research efforts. “Our team has identified a very specific immune cell that cancer uses to turn off the immune system. We are developing ways to disable this cell and boost immunity to cancer,” Dr. Curiel said.
The gift from the Voelcker Fund will allow Dr. Curiel to recruit an expert translational scientist to join his team to produce and test promising new therapies that will target and kill these rogue immune cells while leaving the patients’ healthy cells untouched.
Dr. Curiel’s research focuses on novel immune-based strategies and is revolutionizing the way the world views cancer treatment. Findings from his research were published in three groundbreaking articles in the prestigious journal Nature Medicine. The third of these articles is now among the most cited in the field of tumor immunology.
“New concepts in the lab are turned into novel approaches to clinical trials, which test our concepts and result in new and improved treatments for cancer. Patients in our clinics are among the first to benefit from these new discoveries,” Dr. Curiel said.
Dr. Curiel leads the Health Science Center’s internationally recognized cancer program, SACI, which is a joint program of the Health Science Center and the Cancer Therapy & Research Center. SACI is a National Cancer Institute-designated cancer center, one of only two such centers in Texas to hold this prestigious national distinction.
The support of The Max and Minnie Tomerlin Voelcker Fund, combined with top-notch researchers and a nationally renowned cancer program, positions the Health Science Center to rank among the top cancer centers in the country.