$2 million will advance doctor’s high-tech work in San Antonio, the Rio Grande Valley

Posted: Friday, June 19, 2009
Contact: Sheila Hotchkin, (210) 567-3026

SAN ANTONIO (June 19, 2009) — Dipen Parekh, M.D., a urologic oncologist at The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, uses robotic technology to remove kidney, prostate and bladder cancers with great precision. Tumors are extracted through tiny incisions, reducing pain, blood loss, scarring and risk of infection.

In addition to his work in San Antonio, Dr. Parekh travels to the lower Rio Grande Valley twice a month to perform these minimally invasive procedures on patients at Doctors Hospital at Renaissance. In late May, the Edinburg hospital gave $2 million to the Health Science Center to create an endowed chair that will support Dr. Parekh’s work.

The gift will be used to create a Distinguished University Chair – the highest endowed faculty position available at the Health Science Center.

“With this gift, Doctors Hospital at Renaissance is making a significant investment in the health of Rio Grande Valley residents,” said William L. Henrich, M.D., MACP, president of the Health Science Center. “This collaboration between the Health Science Center and local physicians will better lives, and in some cases will save lives. Local residents already can see the value of this partnership reflected in the improved health of their parents, grandparents, sisters, brothers, sons, daughters and even themselves. We are grateful to Doctors Hospital for its generosity.”

Dr. Parekh said receiving the endowed chair is “a great honor” that will allow him to pursue meaningful research in the field of urologic oncology.

“It’s a great community, and I can see myself making a difference every time I’m there by offering the dual expertise of robotic surgery and urologic oncology in an area that lacks it,” Dr. Parekh said. “I applaud the urologists and the medical community from the Rio Grande Valley for having the long-term vision to wholeheartedly support and participate in this academic-community relationship that is proving to be a win-win situation for everyone.”

Doctors Hospital has the same da Vinci® Surgical System that Dr. Parekh uses in San Antonio. The system allows Dr. Parekh to view cancers in three dimensions and at 10 times the magnification of traditional surgery.

“It gives a remarkably clear view, which is important because we are trying to extract only the cancerous tissue and preserve the anatomy necessary for body functions,” said Dr. Parekh, who is one of few fellowship-trained urologic oncologists in South Texas.

During a procedure, Dr. Parekh uses handles and pedals to control robotic arms positioned above the patient. Gripping sterile instruments, the robot mirrors Dr. Parekh’s slightest movements with tremendous precision as they remove various cancers.

This precision frequently shortens recovery time. Most patients are moving around the hospital the day after surgery, and they return to their regular activities in a few days.

Dr. Parekh spends two days out of every two weeks working at Doctors Hospital, consulting with patients on the first day and performing surgical procedures during the other. The number of surgeries he has performed at Doctors Hospital since the partnership began is approaching 100.

“We are elated with the affiliation that has been established between Doctors Hospital at Renaissance and the UT Health Science Center to continue research efforts that will directly affect the community of the Rio Grande Valley,” said Marissa Castañeda, chief operations officer for the hospital. “Our affiliation has also allowed for UT Health Science Center physicians to provide procedures at our hospital that were not available in the past.”

Likewise, the relationship has been tremendously beneficial to the Health Science Center, which will be able to make good use of the gift from Doctors Hospital.

“Endowed chairs enable us to attract and retain the best and brightest physician-scientists,” said Glenn A. Halff, M.D., acting dean of the School of Medicine at the Health Science Center. “Dr. Parekh came to us from Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York, where he received top-of-the-line training as a urologic oncology fellow. We are fortunate to have him here serving patients in both San Antonio and the Rio Grande Valley, as well as training the next generation of physicians through his work at the School of Medicine.”

Ian M. Thompson, M.D., professor and chairman of urology at the Health Science Center, called the partnership between Doctors Hospital and the Health Science Center’s Department of Urology “truly remarkable.”

“Through Dr. Parekh’s pioneering work at Doctors Hospital, providing minimally invasive cancer procedures for patients in a location that is close to where they live and where their families are close by, the most advanced care can be provided,” Dr. Thompson said. “We’re looking forward to expanding this relationship and building on this truly novel approach to improving health care for our friends and neighbors in the Rio Grande Valley.”

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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 $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.



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