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Major gift from San Antonio philanthropists results in national Aging Center (2-14-01)

The University of Texas System Board of Regents has named a major research center in San Antonio “The Sam and Ann Barshop Center for Longevity and Aging Studies” in honor of the former U. T. Regent and his wife.

The $20 million project will provide one of the nation’s premier research facilities in the field of aging studies. The building will be located at the Texas Research Park in western Bexar County and will house the Health Science Center’s existing research programs in the field of aging. In addition, new faculty will be recruited and will focus on the molecular genetics of conditions associated with aging. The goal of this multi-disciplinary center will be to enhance the quality of life as the American population ages.

Most of the funding for the project has been secured.

A gift of $4 million by Sam and Ann Barshop is the latest contribution toward this project. Other sources of funding include a $1 million planning grant and a $5 million challenge grant from The Brown Foundation, Inc. of Houston, $6 million from the state’s Permanent University Fund and $3 million from the National Institutes of Health. Additional funds for equipment will be raised to complete the project.

Researchers at the Health Science Center have made major discoveries on the effects of genetic and nutritional manipulations of the aging process, as well as the specific diseases and medical conditions unique to the elderly Hispanic population.

Tom Loeffler, Chairman of the Board of Regents, said, “It is a special privilege for me to be a part of this highly appropriate tribute to Sam and Ann Barshop. The Barshops are two outstanding individuals who have been tireless advocates for health education in San Antonio and throughout the State of Texas. During Sam’s term as a member of the Board of Regents, he provided exceptional leadership and served with extraordinary commitment. This is a happy occasion indeed.”

U. T. System Chancellor Dan Burck said, “The contributions of Ann and Sam Barshop have touched all Texans, and I am delighted that the Board of Regents has honored them by naming the Center for Longevity and Aging Studies at the U.T. Health Science Center at San Antonio in their honor. This is fitting recognition for two special supporters of the U. T. System and the Health Science Center.”

Dr. Francisco G. Cigarroa, president of the Health Science Center, said the new center will be one of the most important advances in the San Antonio research community and will add another major building block to the Texas Research Park.

“The generosity of Mr. and Mrs. Barshop will enable future generations of researchers to advance understanding of the biology of aging, with the goal of enhancing the quality of life for us all,” Dr. Cigarroa added. “We had planned to announce a major fund-raising effort to secure the financing of this project, but the funding has come in so quickly that we haven’t even formally announced the fund-raising campaign. That is a tribute to how well received this Center has been in its earliest stages.”

Mr. Barshop has been a major developer and is a founding partner in Barshop and Oles Co., LP. He was the founder of La Quinta Inns and has been a major benefactor of many educational and social causes throughout Texas. He has long been associated at the highest levels of the Republican Party and has been a major supporter of President George W. Bush.

“Mr. Barshop has been a longtime member of the UTHSC Development Board and a tireless advocate not only for the Health Science Center, but also for higher education in general and The University of Texas System in particular,” Dr. Cigarroa said.

The Health Science Center is already highly regarded in the field of aging research and is home to one of the nation’s preeminent centers devoted to studying the biomedical aspects of aging, The Nathan Shock Center for Excellence in the Biology of Aging.

Dr. Arlan Richardson is Director of the Aging Research and Education Center at the Health Science Center and is internationally recognized for his research in the genetic aspects of aging. More than 150 faculty at the Health Science Center are engaged in aging research and currently have grants totaling more than $80 million, making UTHSC the largest federally funded aging research center in Texas and the Southwest.

Contact: Will Sansom