A supplement to the Mission magazine highlighting advancements at the The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio and the heroes who help make them happen.
Vanguard - UT Health Science Center San Antonio
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In This Issue Search Vanguard


Three students swabbing petrie dishes
High school students in college preparatory programs at the Health Science Center learn techniques in culturing bacteria as they discover how normal pathogens lead to serious health problems.

$750,000 grant from Voelcker Fund creates research academy for local youth
The legacy of Max and Minnie Tomerlin Voelcker, and their commitment to medical research, children and San Antonio, was the inspiration for the trustees of the Voelcker Fund to invest in an exciting new partnership with The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio.

In April, with a $750,000 gift, they established The Max and Minnie Tomerlin Voelcker Biomedical Research Academy. Over the next three years, 60 high school students from the greater San Antonio area will participate in an immersive and experiential biomedical research, education and college preparatory program focused on developing the next generation of biomedical scientists for San Antonio.

Three students using lab equipment
Students practice the art and science of microscopy using state-of-the-art equipment in labs on the Health Science Center campus.

For more information about the Voelcker Academy, call co-directors Irene Chapa, Ph.D., at (210) 567-3941 or Sophia Piña, Ph.D., at (210) 567-3984.

Voelcker Scholars will have the opportunity to learn firsthand from some of the most accomplished scientists at the Health Science Center, including principal investigator for the Academy, Brian A. Herman, Ph.D., who is vice president for research.

“Voelcker Scholars will have the potential to lead discoveries and advance cures in heart disease, arthritis, muscular dystrophy, cancer and more,” Dr. Herman said. “The Academy offers a unique opportunity to prepare our high school students as future biomedical researchers.”

Twenty inaugural Voelcker Biomedical Research Scholars will participate in a seven-week summer program in the first year of the Academy. These “rising” sophomores, with a passion for excellence in science, will experience multiple hands-on research activities and workshops in labs and classrooms on campus, as well as related field trips. These sophomores will continue the program throughout the academic year, as well as in their junior and senior years. Each year a new class of 20 sophomores will be recruited to enter the Academy. At the conclusion of the summer program every year, Voelcker Scholars will present their work at a science symposium, and each will receive a $1,000 Voelcker Scholar Award.

Francisco G. Cigarroa, M.D., chancellor of The University of Texas System, and former Health Science Center president, began discussions about the Academy with the trustees before becoming chancellor.

“We are grateful to the trustees of the Voelcker Fund for their leadership in establishing the Voelcker Biomedical Research Academy for San Antonio high school students, in collaboration with the UT Health Science Center San Antonio,” Dr. Cigarroa said. “We believe it could be a national model to support education for the next generation of biomedical scientists.”

The Voelcker Fund and its trustees have been generous supporters of the Health Science Center since the Fund was established in 2006, with substantial investments in cancer and heart disease research totaling nearly $4 million.

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