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Kleberg Medical Scholars
The 2005 Kleberg Medical Scholars celebrated during the second annual Kleberg Medical Scholars Keynote Address and Awards Ceremony held Feb. 2 in Brownsville. Pictured left to right are: Jesse Martinez, M.D., scholar; Carlos Wade, M.D., scholar; Abha Sarwal-Gyani, M.D., scholar; James Castillo, M.D., scholar; James Hanley III, M.D., professor of medicine and director of the internal medicine program at the RAHC; John D. Alexander Jr., vice president and director of the Kleberg Foundation; Jennifer Gonzales, M.D., scholar; Okeny Modi, M.D., scholar; Roberto Hernandez, M.D., scholar; Asma Ashraf, M.D., scholar; and Francisco G. Cigarroa, M.D., Health Science Center president.

Spirit of Giving

February 2005

Robert and Helen Kleberg left a legacy that is much bigger than the 825,000-acre South Texas spread known as the King Ranch.

The legacy of this hardworking, generous couple lies in their namesake, the Robert J. Kleberg Jr. and Helen C. Kleberg Foundation, which has given nearly
$5 million to projects at The University of Texas Health Science Center at
San Antonio.

Young Robert grew up on the family ranch in South Texas. He was grandson of Captain Richard King, the founder of the King Ranch, and son of Robert Kleberg Sr., a lawyer and a pioneer in Texas agriculture and animal science.

Chief executive officer of the family ranch for 56 years, Robert originated the Santa Gertrudis breed of cattle, became an accomplished horse breeder, pioneered wildlife conservation, and supported agriculture research worldwide. Helen shared her husband’s love for the outdoors and ranch life and was active in a number of cultural and civic activities.

Throughout their lifetimes, Robert and Helen dreamed of not only building a strong ranch for their family, but also building a strong future for their beloved South Texas. Their lives were deeply rooted in the South Texas ideals of family, community, diligence and service. The Kleberg Foundation has been built upon these same ideals.

Today, thanks to the generous support of the Kleberg Foundation, researchers at the Health Science Center are studying debilitating diseases that affect South Texas, such as tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS, and are working to develop new treatments to eliminate the suffering caused by these maladies. An additional $1.5 million grant from the Kleberg Foundation is helping scientists to better understand bacteriophages. This area has critical implications for the future of disease management.

A forward-thinking determination has always driven the Kleberg family. That’s why the Kleberg Foundation is investing in the research that is creating the medicine of tomorrow. But the Kleberg investment – and Robert and Helen’s legacy – does not end there. The Kleberg Foundation also is investing in education that is training the physician-scientists of tomorrow.

A $1.5 million grant from the Foundation supports the Kleberg Scholars, eight resident physicians who are continuing their medical training at the Health Science Center’s Regional Academic Health Center (RAHC) in Harlingen. Research has shown that physicians tend to practice where they train, so the Klebergs truly are increasing the number of physicians in South Texas, which has been federally designated as a medically underserved area. In addition to their clinical responsibilities, the Kleberg Scholars are conducting research on medical problems with particular importance to South Texas.

Like no other, the land and the people of South Texas held a special place in the hearts of Robert and Helen Kleberg. In their memory, and in partnership with the Health Science Center, the Kleberg Foundation is ensuring that the South Texas spirit lives on – and thrives – for generations to come.

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Updated 7/30/14