Health Science Center Heroes:
Bob and Patty Hayes wanted to contribute to a program that would advance critical medical research, and support the community and the priorities of The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio. Tyler J. Curiel, M.D., one of the nation’s leading cancer researchers, will hold the Robert Tucker Hayes Distinguished Chair in Oncology.
"Bob and Patty’s gift played a critical role in helping recruit Dr. Curiel to San Antonio," said Health Science Center President Francisco G. Cigarroa, M.D.
Dr. Curiel recently joined the faculty of the School of Medicine and also serves as director of the San Antonio Cancer Institute and assistant dean of oncology. The San Antonio Cancer Institute is a National Cancer Institute (NCI)-designated cancer center, one of only two NCI centers in Texas to hold this prestigious national distinction. The San Antonio Cancer Institute is a joint program led by the Health Science Center and the Cancer Therapy & Research Center. The other Texas NCI-designated cancer center is The University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston. The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio is the primary catalyst for San Antonio’s $14.3-billion-a-year biomedical industry.
Mr. and Mrs. Hayes hosted a special dinner and reception at their San Antonio residence to introduce Dr. Curiel as holder of the Robert Tucker Hayes Distinguished Chair in Oncology at the Health Science Center. "Dr. Curiel brings expertise and leadership that will enable our university to further strengthen our clinical practice and enhance existing cancer programs. Bob and Patty Hayes are making vital advancements in cancer research and care possible in San Antonio," President Cigarroa said.
Mr. Hayes is a graduate of Harvard College and is the former chairman of Hayes Leasing Company, which held Avis franchises in Austin, Dallas, Fort Worth and San Antonio. The franchise grew to become the largest Avis franchise in the nation when Mr. Hayes sold it in 1998. The Robert Tucker Hayes Foundation supports numerous charitable organizations nationwide, with an emphasis on medical research, including endowments at UT Southwestern for centers in behavioral brain science and mineral metabolism research, and chairs in nephrology and cardiothoracic surgery.
"Patty and I are pleased to support The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio. The university is a valuable asset to the future of health for this community, and we wanted to make an investment that would help enhance its impact," Mr. Hayes said. "We believe Dr. Curiel will put our money to work in a way that really advances cancer research," he said.
Dr. Curiel earned his medical degree from Duke University School of Medicine and his M.P.H. from Harvard University. He completed an internship and residency in internal medicine at Yale University School of Medicine and Yale-New Haven Hospital; a clinical and research fellowship in infectious diseases at Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital; and a clinical and research fellowship in medical oncology at the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center. He is a diplomate of the American Board of Internal Medicine and is board certified in internal medicine, infectious diseases and medical oncology.
Dr. Curiel has published mouse and human clinical trials revealing that cancer reprograms immune and other cells into "bad actors" that actually worsen the cancer. "Our approach is to ask, ‘What if we take away those bad actors?’" he said. Findings from his cancer research were recently published in three separate issues of the prestigious journal Nature Medicine. His research team is fundamentally altering how doctors undertake immune-based treatments for cancer with early encouraging results from clinical trials.
"We think we have a good idea that could make a real difference to patients with cancer. The gift from Mr. and Mrs. Hayes will be an important contribution to our efforts at a critical time in our research," Dr. Curiel said.
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