May 5, 2000
Volume XXXIII, No. 18

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SBC Foundation awards $7 million to Health Science Center

Nearly $7 million in grants from the SBC Foundation will be used to create a "virtual campus" of scientists and an ultra-modern teleconferencing center at the Texas Research Park, officials from the Health Science Center announced last week.

The grants will enable the Health Science Center to eliminate the effect of distance on collaboration between faculty members and with colleagues at other institutions. The state-of-the-art telecommunications center, for example, will bridge the 19 miles between the Texas Research Park and the South Texas Medical Center and provide interactive connectivity with research peers nationwide and worldwide.

The SBC Foundation provided $5 million for the virtual campus network and $1.8 million for The SBC Teleconference Center. The teleconferencing facility will be constructed adjacent to the Health Science Center's newest research building, the South Texas Centers for Biology in Medicine (STCBM), and its neighbor, the U. T. Institute of Biotechnology established in 1990. The $19 million, 87,000-square-foot STCBM is under construction in the Research Park and should be completed later this year.

Research at the STCBM will focus on diseases disproportionately affecting the region's population. Researchers will study infectious diseases, diabetes, bone disease, certain cancers and aging-related conditions prevalent in the South Texas/Border Region. The Institute of Biotechnology, home to the Health Science Center's Department of Molecular Medicine graduate degree program, is the workplace of researchers generating world-acclaimed studies in cancer genetics and other fields.

"Through communications technology and the Internet, researchers here will be able to call on a staggering supply of resources, talent and expertise from literally thousands of experts and institutions around the world," said Gloria Delgado, president of the SBC Foundation. "And researchers here will be able to contribute their knowledge and expertise, as well. The SBC Foundation is proud to support this center."

Dr. John P. Howe, III, president, said the new teleconferencing center and virtual campus will help researchers communicate with colleagues worldwide in real time and conveniently from their labs or desktops.

"From the beginning, the SBC Foundation has been a supporter of the Texas Research Park and the Health Science Center. Most importantly, however, SBC is demonstrating its commitment to the people of South Texas. By supporting our research and the scientific community, SBC is helping to improve the lives of those who reside in the South Texas/Border Region," he said.

The virtual campus project will strengthen the Health Science Center's partnerships with the U.S. Army and U.S. Air Force, UTSA, school districts, the Cancer Therapy & Research Center, the Southwest Foundation for Biomedical Research, the Southwest Research Institute, and institutions in Laredo, Corpus Christi and the Lower Rio Grande Valley. The virtual campus will use high-bandwidth communications, networking and computers so that researchers, students and faculty can collaborate as if they were across a desk from one another or in the same classroom or laboratory. The intended outcome is improved quality of health-related research and, ultimately, better quality health care in the region.

The SBC Teleconference Center  will include an auditorium with more than 200 seats. Audience members will be able to see scientific speakers from remote sites and review research slides and other graphics during presentations.