Aug. 10, 2001
Volume XXXIV, No. 32


Making the Rounds


Children's cancer research jewel to rise in San Antonio

Photo of groundbreaking Balloons are released as Dr. Francisco G. Cigarroa, president, and area children symbolically break ground for the Children's Cancer Research Center.

With the swish of small shovels, children fittingly moved the first earth Aug. 2 for the Children's Cancer Research Center (CCRC), a resource to serve South Texas, the state and the nation.

The Health Science Center will operate the regional facility, which will focus on basic mechanisms of childhood cancer and will include development of new therapies for its many forms.

"The Children's Cancer Research Center is important because children suffer from different types of cancers than adults, and they require different treatments," said Dr. Francisco G. Cigarroa, UTHSC president. As a pediatric and transplant surgeon, he has helped many children with cancer. He said the center will unravel the mystery of cancer piece by piece, bringing hope for better methods of prevention, more effective treatments and, someday, a cure.

Speakers included the state's former attorney general, The Honorable Dan Morales, who on March 28, 1996, filed suit against the tobacco industry on behalf of the state's residents. The suit led to a $1.5 billion settlement to be paid over 25 years and to be appropriated by the Legislature for the good of Texans.

Morales later called the Health Science Center to ask for a proposal that would use some of the money wisely — and faculty including Dr. Celia I. Kaye, vice dean of the Medical School and professor and chair of pediatrics, conceived the Children's Cancer Research Center.

Photo of kids Two-year-old Shelby Urdiales, who has battled cancer of the muscle in her leg, enjoys shoveling dirt with her mother, Sandra Urdiales.

The CCRC is supported by a $200 million endowment, the nation's single largest cancer endowment. The 76th Texas Legislature awarded the funding to the Health Science Center in 1999 for the purpose of creating a new comprehensive research facility to serve the state.

"We break ground today on an absolutely state-of-the-art facility that will help us attract outstanding children's cancer research scientists to San Antonio," said Dr. Anthony J. Infante, interim director of the CCRC, associate dean for research in the Medical School, and professor of pediatrics and microbiology. "I see CCRC scientists making important discoveries about children's cancer in the areas of epidemiology, genetics, molecular mechanisms, tumor imaging, and the development of new and better drugs, vaccines and radiation therapies."

The CCRC will be at the Health Science Center's North Campus, 8403 Floyd Curl Drive. The four-story, $49.5 million structure will provide 100,000 square feet of needed research space. San Antonio already is home to burgeoning research initiatives geared to serving children, including clinical trials of new cancer-fighting medications and efforts to speed the drug-development process.

The CCRC will be located next to the newest building of the Cancer Therapy & Research Center. The Health Science Center and the Cancer Therapy & Research Center are partners in the San Antonio Cancer Institute, one of only two Comprehensive Cancer Centers in Texas and 38 nationwide as designated by the National Cancer Institute.

Garza/Bomberger & Associates of San Antonio assembled the CCRC design/build team, which includes the San Francisco firm NBBJ, designer of prominent research buildings such as the Rainbow Babies' and Children's Hospital in Cleveland, Ohio. Bartlett Cocke, L.P., of San Antonio is the general contractor.

Photo of interview KENS-TV medical reporter Wendy Rigby interviews Dr. Anthony J. Infante, interim director of the CCRC, associate dean for research in the Medical School, and professor of pediatrics and microbiology. Members of the San Antonio media covered the Aug. 3 groundbreaking of the CCRC.

Photo of Krier at podium

The Honorable Cyndi Taylor Krier of San Antonio brings official greetings and congratulations from The University of Texas System Board of Regents. The Honorable Nelson Wolff, her successor as Bexar County judge, brought greetings from the county. The Honorable Dan Morales, former attorney general of Texas, discussed the original vision for a facility such as the CCRC.