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Sam and Ann Barshop Center

The Health Science Center breaks ground on the world's premier aging research center

April 2003

by Amanda Gallagher

Two U.S. Senators joined forces with the Health Science Center to unearth what could quite possibly become the greatest research venture in South Texas history: The Sam and Ann Barshop Center for Longevity and Aging Studies at the Texas Research Park.

The 48,000-square-foot facility will house some of the world’s biggest names in aging research. It is built on a foundation of scientific excellence and one of the largest private donations in San Antonio history. San Antonio businessman and philanthropist Sam Barshop, along with his wife, Ann, donated $4 million to the building that will bear their name.

The National Institutes of Health, the Permanent University Fund and The Brown Foundation, Inc., of Houston, one of America’s best-funded foundations, provided the remaining financial support for the $20 million facility.

Unearthing Science

(L-R) UT System Regent Cyndi Taylor Krier; former UT System Regent Sam Barshop and his wife, Ann, and U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison help Dr. Cigarroa, U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, State Sen. Jeff Wentworth, Texas Research Park Foundation President Glenn Biggs and State Rep. Ken Mercer break ground on the Sam and Ann Barshop Center for Longevity and Aging Studies at the Texas Research Park.

  Groundbreaking at the Barshop Center
The Health Science Center honored the Barshops during a groundbreaking ceremony in February. U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison served as the keynote speaker. "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," Sen. Hutchison said. "The hard work, dedication and breakthrough research of Texas’ campuses is really putting Texas on the map."

Also joining in the celebration were U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, the Barshops, and UT System Regent Cyndi Taylor Krier. Mr. Barshop is a former UT System Regent.

All agree the Health Science Center is the most appropriate place for such a facility. The institution has garnered more grants from the National Institute on Aging than any other medical center in the United States. And the San Antonio region may be one of the first to bear the brunt of the aging population.

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. But the state of Texas estimates seniors will soon constitute about 30 percent of San Antonio’s population.

"We feel this is a key global initiative, considering the rapid growth of the older population. No one gets out of this world alive, but in the future, thanks to the work at the Barshop Center, we envision improvements in medical knowledge that will make everyone’s older years healthier and more worthwhile," Mr. Barshop said.

While the building won’t be complete until November 2004, the scientific research began years ago under the direction of Arlan Richardson, Ph.D., professor of physiology and the Center’s director. The Health Science Center also has recruited more than 150 scientists who are leaders in the field of aging research and are already actively investigating the genetics of aging.

The Center itself is divided into four areas of major 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.

The initiative has received tremendous support from Health Science Center President Francisco G. Cigarroa, M.D. "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," Dr. Cigarroa said during the groundbreaking ceremony. "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."

So while the average life expectancy has climbed to an all-time high of 76.9 years, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, we can expect our health won’t diminish under the crippling effects of disease.

Thanks to the Health Science Center’s new crown jewel, and the people who made it possible, our gerneration and those that follow will truly treasure the golden years.


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