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Center for Public Health Preparedness and Biomedical Research established

San Antonio (March 4, 2003) — Research that leads to vaccines for anthrax and other toxic agents . . . preparedness education for the public . . . training for health professionals who one day could be in the front lines of caring for mass casualties. All these activities are part of a brand-new center established at The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio.

UTHSCSA Associate Vice President for Administration Harold L. Timboe, M.D., M.P.H., is the founding director of the Center for Public Health Preparedness and Biomedical Research (CPHPBR). "Dr. Timboe is an excellent choice because of his medical and public health background and his distinguished military career, which culminated in commands at Brooke Army Medical Center and Walter Reed Army Medical Center," said Francisco G. Cigarroa, M.D., president of the Health Science Center. "This Center will be uniquely tailored to the strengths of the Health Science Center, which offers many experts and programs of great value to the community and throughout South Texas in these challenging times."

The CPHPBR's first public lecture, "Personal Preparedness Tips: Homeland Security and You," will be offered at noon Friday, March 7, in room 309L of the Medical School building. Health Science Center faculty will discuss keeping a clear head in the midst of terror alerts, involving one's own physician or other health-care provider in civil preparedness activities, 10 basic preparedness activities to do at home, and obtaining information in the event of an emergency.

"This Center will work with metro and regional health authorities to prepare exercise scenarios and provide training opportunities for emergency responders, including physicians, nurses and emergency medical services personnel," Dr. Timboe said. "We also will provide presentations for the general public. We need to be ready for any eventuality, especially where it involves applying our health expertise."

The federal government on Feb. 27 lowered the Homeland Security Color-Coded Threat level from orange (high) to yellow (elevated), indicating there is still a significant risk of terrorist activity.

"There are a lot of Good Samaritans, both working and retired, throughout the community who would be more than ready to do their part in an emergency," Dr. Timboe said. "The CPHPBR can be a resource to help keep them up to date. The genesis for this was September 11, when so many wanted to help but didn't know how. Our community can help train these Good Samaritans and, if ever needed, work with them to help restore the community's public health."

Another of the Center's key functions is to leverage the Health Science Center's scientific expertise and facility assets into federal, state and private research grants. Collaborating institutions include Brooke Army Medical Center, Wilford Hall Medical Center, the South Texas Veterans Health Care System, Texas Department of Health Regions 8 and 11, the San Antonio Metropolitan Health District, Brooks City-Base, the Southwest Research Institute and the Southwest Foundation for Biomedical Research.

Contact: Will Sansom or Aileen Salinas