April 13, 2001
Volume XXXIV, No. 15


Of Note


Sen. Gramm sees progress at Texas Diabetes Institute

Cigarroa shaking hands with Sen. Gramm Dr. Francisco Cigarroa, president, greets U.S. Sen. Phil Gramm at the Texas Diabetes Institute (TDI) on South Zarzamora Street. Dr. Cigarroa noted that the physicians, nurses and researchers of the Health Science Center enjoy a rich collaborative relationship at the TDI, which is a facility of the University Health System.

U.S. Sen. Phil Gramm recently toured the Texas Diabetes Institute (TDI), where he learned about the work of Health Science Center physicians, nurses and research scientists devoted to improving the lives of patients and families at the West Side facility.

"Nothing the Health Science Center does is more important than research of this debilitating disease," said Dr. Francisco G. Cigarroa, president, as he welcomed Sen. Gramm. "We are grateful for National Institutes of Health [NIH] funding that supports diabetes-related research."

The TDI, located at 701 S. Zarzamora, is a state-of-the-art University Health System facility that houses the clinical care and research of Health Science Center faculty and staff. Patient care is enhanced because of the many types of diabetes care available under one roof, from podiatry and wound care to kidney function testing, eye care and endocrine evaluations.

Sen. Gramm toured the ophthalmology clinic, where Clinical Director Dr. Carlos Rosende of UTHSC demonstrated retinal photography, an advanced method for evaluating the blinding eye complication diabetic retinopathy. The senator also visited the hyperbaric medicine and wound care center, where 20 to 30 patients a day receive wound care treatment, said Medical Director Dr. Patty Smith, UTHSC department of rehabilitation medicine.

In the TDI's third-floor clinical research center, Dr. Larry Mandarino, UTHSC division of diabetes, and Research Nurse Magda Ortiz described the various metabolic studies under way, including investigations of new drugs to treat diabetes. Dr. Mandarino led the tour of an exercise testing area where patients are evaluated during clinical trials.

"This center addresses a horrible nightmare," said Jeff Turner, president and CEO of the University Health System, during the tour welcome. "Our relationship with the Health Science Center is outstanding, and we have a great focus here on diabetes prevention."

Luis Vera, a member of the University Health System Board of Managers who copes with diabetes, looked at Sen. Gramm as he said: "You made a promise to me that you would come [to the TDI], and you came. Here you'll see people going blind, missing limbs and in pain, but they are learning to live with it."

Bexar County Precinct 2 Commissioner Paul Elizondo said the TDI was created when "the community spoke" of the need for such a center and "the government listened."

Sen. Gramm said he believes in investing in scientific research. "In 1997, the NIH was asked to do a study on diabetes," he said. "The result was the Strategic Plan for the 21st Century, which recommends establishment of a National Diabetes Task Force for Technology and $77 million for diabetes projects around the country. I support those recommendations."

He said while he is not personally affected by diabetes, his grandmother had the disease and two cousins lost limbs because of it. "It is a disease with profound consequences. It affects 125,000 people in Bexar County, and many don't know they have it. I commit my support to this fight."