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UTHSCSA breaks ground on Sam and Ann Barshop Center

San Antonio (Feb. 20, 2003) — The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio (UTHSCSA) on Feb. 20 took its first step toward creating a world-class research complex dedicated to the study of aging and healthy longevity, the Sam and Ann Barshop Center for Longevity and Aging Studies at the Texas Research Park. UTHSCSA President Francisco G. Cigarroa, M.D., led the groundbreaking ceremonies on a 48,000-square-foot building that will be the site of major research committed to finding solutions for the diseases that plague the elderly and increase health care costs.

U.S. Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison was the keynote speaker at the groundbreaking festivities. "One of my top priorities in the Senate has been to highlight the centers of excellence in our Texas institutions and make sure they get the prominence and funding they so richly deserve," Senator Hutchison said. "The hard work, dedication and breakthrough research indicative of Texas' campuses is really putting Texas on the map." Also joining in the celebration were U.S. Senator John Cornyn, former UT System Regent Sam Barshop and his wife, Ann, and UT System Chancellor Mark G. Yudof.

"We are so proud that our Health Science Center leads the nation's medical centers in the number of National Institute on Aging grants received," President Cigarroa said. "The Barshop Center promises to provide longer, healthier, more prosperous lives for many of us here today, and also for our grandchildren and great-grandchildren."

Better research understandings should lead to increased life span and increased quality of life in our older years. "We know that calorie-restricted animals live longer and have a better quality of life," said Arlan Richardson, Ph.D., professor of physiology and director of the Barshop Center. "With that understanding, we are looking for the genes in humans that extend life and help people live healthier lives."

Dr. Richardson also directs the Health Science Center's Aging Research & Education Center and Nathan Shock Center and is a Career Scientist with the South Texas Veterans Health Care System. He is the initial holder of the Methodist Hospital Foundation Chair in Aging Studies and Research.

The U.S. Census Bureau expects the number of senior citizens to double by 2050, when seniors will make up more than 20 percent of the population. The state of Texas estimates seniors soon will constitute about 30 percent of San Antonio's population. This fast-growing segment of the population will have a major economic impact on the public and private sectors, particularly in areas of health care.

The Health Science Center's background in collaborative work creating top-notch research makes it the best choice for such a unique center. The Barshop Center will be a state-of-the-art research facility where leaders in aging research apply the latest developments in cell biology, biochemistry and genome sequencing to identify the genes and biological pathways involved in healthy lifespan and age-related disease.

Some of the world's top scientists are participating in the Barshop Center's four major areas of research, the Cellular Aging Program, the Genetics of Invertebrate Aging and Longevity Program, the Genetics of Rodent Longevity Program and the Human Genetics of Aging Program. Construction for the Barshop Center is scheduled for completion in November 2004.

Contact: Will Sansom or Aileen Salinas