Spring 1995 Mission

News on campus

Spring 1995 Mission

New home ahead for Allied Health Sciences

Next year, a new allied health/research building will open its doors at a site next to the Robert F. McDermott Clinical Science Building.

The five-story, $19.5 million building will contain about 100,000 square feet of laboratories, classrooms, treatment rooms and offices for the School of Allied Health Sciences, and additional research space for the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences.

"This has been a part of the academic plan for many years," said James Van Straten, PhD, allied health dean. "Our school's faculty and staff are very pleased that the Board of Regents and the Texas Legislature have supported this project."

The departments of physical therapy, occupational therapy and clinical laboratory sciences currently are located underneath the Health Science Center auditorium . The new department of respiratory care is located in the Medical School building, and the departments of dental laboratory technology and dental hygiene are in the Dental School building. The department of emergency medical technology is housed in Bluffcreek Towers on Medical Drive.

"With the addition of a new baccalaureate degree program in respiratory care last year, our space situation is very tight," Dr. Van Straten said.

The new building will be situated to the southeast side of the McDermott Building.

Spring 1995 Mission

Degrees added in dental hygiene and lab sciences

The dental hygiene and dental laboratory technology departments, part of the School of Allied Health Sciences, are celebrating the final approval of three new degree programs.

The Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board authorized master's and bachelor's degrees in dental hygiene and a bachelor's degree in dental laboratory sciences in October 1994. The baccalaureate program for dental hygiene is scheduled to begin next fall. Dental laboratory technology's baccalaureate program and dental hygiene's master's program are scheduled to begin in fall 1996.

The existing two-year certificate programs in both departments will continue to be offered.

"The master's program in dental hygiene will be the first in Texas and only the ninth in the country," said Nita Wallace, chairwoman of the dental hygiene department. "With the addition of these programs, we will offer the total career ladder for the profession of dental hygiene — a certificate-level program, a baccalaureate program and a master's program."

The baccalaureate program will offer dental hygiene students an advanced-level, post-certification bachelor's degree. "This degree will allow students to work in a broad range of settings — public health, institutional health, public education and industry, as well as to become clinical instructors in accredited dental hygiene programs," Wallace said.

The master's program, offered through the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences, will prepare academicians to teach in dental hygiene programs and researchers to work in industry.

The new bachelor's degree in dental laboratory sciences will provide students with the advanced technical skills required in today's dental laboratories, and also management expertise, which surveys have identified as a critical need in the field.

"The number of dental laboratories registered with the Texas State Board of Dental Examiners has been decreasing. Our studies indicate that a primary reason for the closing of laboratories could be a deficiency of advanced business management and supervisory skills," said Roosevelt Davis, chairman of dental laboratory technology. "Due to our complex and everchanging economy, the profession demands greater emphasis on managerial skills. That concern is coupled with the fact that it is difficult for the average dental laboratory to keep abreast of new skills and knowledge.

"This program will focus on applying business and management principles, taught in prerequisite courses, to the dental laboratory setting. This program will effectively combine professional training and management education in one degree."

Spring 1995 Mission

President’s Council begins campaign

The President's Council, now in its third year, has begun its annual campaign to raise unrestricted gifts of $1,000 or more to support the Health Science Center and its missions of teaching, research, patient care and community service.

The campaign chairmen are Claude Nabers, DDS, and Harold Walker, both of San Antonio.

"I have accepted the role of co-chair of the President's Council for a number of reasons," Walker said. "The Health Science Center plays an important role in this community as a leading business with an economic impact of more than $800 million to the local economy. The Health Science Center provides more than $65 milion in indigent care. Support of the Health Science Center is vital to a vibrant economy."

Dr. Nabers cited similar reasons, saying: "The Health Science Center is an invaluable resource to not only San Antonio, but all of South Texas. By joining the President's Council, members are showing their continued support for improving educational opportunities for students, as well as improving health care for everyone."

"We are pleased to have Claude and Harold lead our efforts this year," said W. Frank Elston, vice president for university relations. "They are respected in the community and are tireless advocates of the work being done by our faculty and students."

Spring 1995 Mission

Hogan professorship honors ophthalmologist

More than $145,000 has been received for the Thomas F. Hogan Jr. Professorship in Ophthalmology and Ethics.

The new endowment was created to honor the memory of Dr. Hogan, a San Antonio ophthalmologist who died in 1991.

Principal impetus for the memorial professorship came from Kittie and Rugeley Ferguson, friends and former patients of Dr. Hogan. In addition to the generosity of the Fergusons, 316 donors have added to the fund.

W.A.J. van Heuven, MD, professor and chairman of the department of ophthalmology at the Health Science Center, initiated the fund-raising effort with the University Relations Office.

"Tom was a skilled ophthalmologist with a keen sense of ethics, morality, honesty and integrity," Dr. van Heuven said. Dr. Hogan practiced in San Antonio from 1956 to 1991 and was a dedicated teacher at the Robert B. Green Hospital, now known as University Health Center-Downtown.

The Hogan professorship will enable the department of ophthalmology to take its place as a leader in meeting the challenge of bringing into everyday practice ethical principles through education, consultation and research.

Additional donations are being sought to increase the endowment. Persons wishing to contribute may send their gifts to the department of ophthalmology or the university relations office.

Spring 1995 Mission

Physiologist heads gerontological society

Edward J. Masoro, PhD, professor of physiology and director of the Health Science Center's Aging Research and Education Center, has been elected president of the Gerontological Society of America.

Dr. Masoro assumed the post in Atlanta at the society's 47th annual meeting. He received the president's medallion and official gavel.

"Heading the Gerontological Society of America is quite an honor and recognizes Dr. Masoro's decades of contributions to the field of aging," said Linda K. George, PhD, professor of psychiatry and sociology at Duke University Medical Center in Durham, N.C. Dr. George, who is associate director of Duke's Center for the Study of Aging and Human Development, preceded Dr. Masoro as society president.

"This election is a fitting tribute to both his excellent scientific contributions and his superb service to the society," she said. "Everyone in the field respects his long-term studies of the effects of diet restriction on the life span of laboratory animals."

The society is composed of more than 7,100 researchers, scientists, educators and policy makers in the field of aging. The international forum, represents more than 30 countries.

Dr. Masoro is editor of the Journal of Gerontology: Biological Sciences, and is the author or co-author of more than 150 peer-reviewed research papers in the areas of biological gerontology, lipid metabolism, nutrition, membrane biochemistry and environmental physiology. He is the author or co-author of nearly 100 books, chapters in books, review articles and editorials on these subjects.

Spring 1995 Mission

Medina showed young scholars the way

Four decades ago, a vocational counselor for veterans decided to help a co-worker named Miguel Medina. "Where do you want to go from here?" he asked, then administered a battery of tests. Finding a strong aptitude for science and English, the counselor convinced his friend to go to college.

The career of a masterful scientist and educator had begun. And the proof was easy to see even before Miguel Medina, PhD, retired in January after 25 years at the Health Science Center. He had received his doctorate years ago, and was a professor of pharmacology and associate dean in the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences.

But Dr. Medina also built a legacy of achievement that included encouraging young people to pursue science and health careers. He offered practical guidance to students, much as his vocational counselor did for him years ago.

"When I work with groups in South Texas, I see several problems very clearly — lack of information and lack of counseling, the lack of someone to say, 'Look, this is how you do this, to get from here to here to here,'" he said.

For thousands of high school and college students, Dr. Medina filled the gap, starting and developing programs to help aspiring learners. They include:

"He is the heart and soul of these programs, and the things he's put into place will never leave us," said Sanford A. Miller, PhD, dean of the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences. "He has changed the face of the institution. He has moved us in a direction — an inclusiveness — that reflects the nature of the region in which we live.

"We had few Mexican American students in the Medical School until he received grants to support enrichment programs. Years later, he was the driving force when the Medical School was named a Hispanic Center of Excellence," Dr. Miller said.

His research focused on the effect of drugs on neurotransmitters, but teaching also caught his fancy. His interest in minority students heightened after 1967, when he joined an area group called IMAGE — Involvement of Mexican Americans in Gainful Endeavors.

"The objective was to inform students about careers and keep them from dropping out. IMAGE is where I really became involved with disadvantaged minorities," he said. Dr. Medina agreed to run the Health Science Center's IMAGE enrichment program for students from Edgewood Independent School District, one of the state's poorest districts.

In 1982, he started two new and highly successful high school programs — the Biomedical Program and the National Institutes of Health Summer Research Program.

Dr. Medina has delivered results. About 70 percent of the pre-med students in the university's enrichment programs have gone on to medical school, and about 85 percent of the pre-dental students have gone on to dental school.

"It's nice that many of the students have gone into health careers because that's part of the goal," he said, "but I've always wanted the kids to go to college and finish in any field, because a degree is the real payoff."

Spring 1995 Mission


Spring 1995 Mission

Occupational therapy becomes a priority

The Health Science Center and UT Pan American in Edinburgh have combined in an educational program designed to increase the number of occupational therapists in South Texas and the Rio Grande Valley.

The region has 26 occupational therapists, far below the 176 it should have based on national averages.

The program has three main goals:

A developmental grant of $115,000 for the first two years of the cooperative effort will come from the Area Health Education Center. The center is designed to improve the supply of health professionals in South Texas.

“UT Pan American’s developing occupational therapy department would share accreditation with the Health Science Center for five years, after which time it will propose its own accreditation as an independent program," said Gale Haradon, PhD, chairwoman of the Health Science Center's department of occupational therapy.

“Eventually the program will lead to a bachelor of science degree in occupational therapy,” she said. “With this degree recipients can begin work immediately in the field.”

The agreement will allow the Health Science Center's occupational therapy department to admit an additional 20 students a year. It now enrolls 35 a year.

“It’s been well documented that if students have to leave an area to get their education, many of them will not return. This program fits in well with one of the Health Science Center’s overall missions which is to reach out to and help fulfill the medical needs of South Texas," Dr. Haradon said.

“Most of the courses will be taught by faculty hired through legislative appropriations right on the UT Pan American campus. Some courses, like the more advanced medical lectures, might not be able to be held there so we will use the Health Science Center’s teleconferencing capabilities to conduct those courses,” she said.

Spring 1995 Mission

Oncologist receives coveted science honor

Medical oncologist C. Kent Osborne, MD, received the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation's 1994 Award for Scientific Distinction in Dallas.

Dr. Osborne, professor of medicine at the Health Science Center and chief of the breast disease clinic at the Cancer Therapy & Research Center, joins a select group of internationally known scientists who have received the award. They include Dr. Mary-Claire King of the University of California at Berkeley, Dr. Marc Lippman of Georgetown University and the late Dr. William McGuire, who established San Antonio as one of the world's leading centers for breast cancer research.

Dr. Osborne, also a consulting physician at Audie L. Murphy Memorial Veterans Hospital, has studied the biology and treatment of breast cancer for two decades. He and other San Antonio researchers, headed by Dr. McGuire, revolutionized breast cancer research by providing detailed data about prognostic factors that may be used to determine whether a woman's breast cancer will recur.

He has authored or co-authored more than 300 scientific papers and abstracts and serves on several editorial boards, including the Journal of the National Cancer Institute. His many honors and offices include membership on the executive committee of the American Society for Clinical Oncology.

"Kent Osborne is one of the most influential scientists in the field of breast cancer research. He has made enormous contributions both in basic and clinical research," said Dr. Lippman, director of the Vincent T. Lombardi Cancer Center at Georgetown University.

He called the San Antonio team "one of the preeminent breast cancer research groups in the world."

"There is no one more deserving of this award than Dr. Osborne," added Nancy Brinker, founding chair of the Komen Foundation. "He has demonstrated diligence, commitment and great leadership in his work."

Brinker named the Komen Foundation after her sister, Susan Komen, who died of breast cancer at the age of 36.

For several years, Dr. Osborne and his research team have studied cancer cell resistance to the drug tamoxifen, one of the most effective drugs used to fight breast cancer.

"In cases where tamoxifen is no longer effective, the drug is somehow interpreted by the cell as a factor that stimulates growth rather than inhibiting it," he said. "In addition, the drug may also cause the cell to be stressed in such a way that in the process of repairing itself, the cell divides at a faster rate."

Normally, tamoxifen limits the action of the female hormone estrogen. This key hormone, studied intensively by the San Antonio research group for more than 20 years, regulates the growth of both healthy and cancerous breast tissue.

Another of Dr. Osborne's projects involves studies of a new treatment approach, called a "ligand fusion toxin," that combines a cellular poison (diphtheria toxin) with a hormone. The hormone diverts the toxin to the cancer cell, killing it while sparing normal cells.

In recognizing Dr. Osborne with the 1994 Award for Scientific Distinction, the Komen Foundation cited both his contributions in the laboratory and his excellence in the clinic. In 1994, he was cited among the 44 San Antonio physicians included in the book The Best Doctors in America.

"He's an excellent physician," said Jane Nichols, chief nurse in the chemotherapy clinic at the Cancer Therapy & Research Center. "I have the utmost respect for this medical skills, and his patients really like him - he's a down-to-earth person - a 'regular guy' who's a doctor.

"He gives all his patients his home phone number -- he says to call him and he means it. He gets a lot of calls in the middle of the night."

Spring 1995 Mission

Dental research group elects faculty member

John D. Rugh, PhD, professor and director of research of the Dental School, has been installed as president of the American Association for Dental Research.

Dr. Rugh is the first psychologist to be elected president of the association, which represents more than 5,000 American scientists interested in oral health research.

In his president's address, Dr. Rugh emphasized the need for dental researchers to work more closely with dental practitioners, dental educators and the public. He said that there is need to increase communication, collaboration and mutual support between dental scientists, dental educators and dental practitioners.

He noted that each group has its own independent professional organization, journals, newsletters and legal staff. Each organization has independently developed a strategic plan. He warned that this independence may harm the profession.

Dr. Rugh pledged to initiate programs which would strengthen the interactions between educators, practitioners and scientists. To further strengthen the interaction between scientists and practitioners, Dr. Rugh will appoint an ad hoc committee with representatives from education, practice, government, industry and research to study the problem of transfer of science. He is concerned that much of the exciting new knowledge and products provided through dental research do not reach the educator and practitioner in a timely manner. With the current emphasis on accountability, Dr. Rugh feels that science organizations must be increasingly concerned about science transfer.

Dr. Rugh is internationally recognized for his research in the area of bruxism and temporomandibular disorders.

Spring 1995 Mission

Women's study will be nation's largest

The Health Science Center has joined in the largest study of American women's health ever undertaken.

The $628 million Women's Health Initiative (WHI) funded by the National Institutes of Health has enlisted 24 sites to study the chronic diseases affecting postmenopausal women, including heart disease, cancer of the uterus, breast and colon, and fractures due to bone thinning.

Principal investigator for the San Antonio portion of the study is Robert S. Schenken, MD, professor and Frank Harrison Chair in Reproductive Endocrinology.

San Antonio researchers will enroll 3,620 postmenopausal women between the ages of 50 and 79 in two separate studies, Dr. Schenken said. The San Antonio numbers will be part of the nationwide goal to recruit 163,000 women.

"We believe our selection as a research site was the product of the university's strong track record with national studies of postmenopausal women and our access to a large minority population in the San Antonio area," Dr. Schenken said.

The WHI began in 1993 with 16 sites and already is following 4,500 women nationwide.

The trials will seek to learn whether low fat dietary patterns prevent breast cancer, colon cancer and heart disease; whether hormone replacement therapy prevents heart disease and osteoporotic fractures; and whether calcium and vitamin D can prevent osteoporotic fractures and colon cancer.