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Voelcker Biosciences Teacher Academy

Voelcker Fund establishes new teacher biosciences academy

September 2010

by Natalie Gutierrez

Honoring, the legacy of the late Max and Minnie Tomerlin Voelcker, the Max and Minnie Tomerlin Voelcker Fund continues to support biomedical research at the UT Health Science Center San Antonio. To date, transformational gifts totaling more than $10 million have focused on programs that cultivate innovative research and education and prepare the next generation of bioscience leaders in San Antonio and South Texas.

This year, the Voelcker Fund trustees contributed $445,500 to establish the Max and Minnie Tomerlin Voelcker Biosciences Teacher Academy. By focusing on teacher professional development, the Teacher Academy provides an additional strategy for improving science education, and is synergistic with the Voelcker Biomedical Research Academy for high school students that the Voelcker Fund established at the Health Science Center in 2009.

Michael Lichtenstein, M.D., M.Sc., professor of medicine in the Division of Geriatrics, coordinates the program, which targets K-12 science, math and health teachers. A core of education development specialists serve as the programís key support.

"We are grateful for the confidence the Voelcker Fund has placed in us through this grant. The trustees truly understand the strong link between education, opportunity and health in San Antonio," Dr. Lichtenstein said. "We must continually improve the education of our children. This is an essential step in building a better workforce, preparing the research and business leaders of the future, and discovering and testing the best means of improving the health of our region. The Voelcker Teacher Academy allows us to work toward improving student achievement through the professional development of teachers, leveraging the significant impact each teacher has on generations of students."

This summer, five teachers were selected for the Teacher Academy and took part in an intensive six-week program on the Health Science Center campus. Participants used the universityís state-of-the-art laboratories and facilities to develop math and science curricula in areas specific to health conditions that impact the San Antonio and South Texas community. They also learned new techniques to encourage and guide their students toward graduation, pursuit of advanced degrees and careers in bioscience research.

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