Researchers at the UT Health Science Center San Antonio produce and translate groundbreaking research into clinical care that saves lives. Major gifts, annual giving, corporate and foundation support, endowments and planned gifts are vital to sustaining the momentum of making lives better.
These types of gifts enhance the Health Science Center’s effectiveness in competing for world-class scientists, clinicians and faculty to work in the Health Science Center’s signature areas of research and care.
For more than 30 years, the Welch Foundation has funded some of the most basic and groundbreaking research at the Health Science Center through generous contributions of grants and endowments totaling more than $9 million.
Dr. Fields is university’s second Welch Foundation Chair
Under the leadership of Merle S. Olson, Ph.D., who was chair of the Department of Biochemistry from 1983 to 2003 and former dean of the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences (2003 2008), the Department of Biochemistry was awarded a $1 million endowment from the Welch Foundation. With an additional $1 million matching gift from an anonymous donor, the Health Science Center established the Robert A. Welch Distinguished University Chair in Chemistry.
Last year, Bruce Nicholson, Ph.D., professor and chair of the Department of Biochemistry, recruited Gregg B. Fields, Ph.D., to occupy the chair. Dr. Fields, a biochemist, arrived at the Health Science Center in August 2008 and brought his laboratory team and several million dollars in research grants to San Antonio from Florida Atlantic University, where he served as chair of the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry for eight years. He joins Bettie Sue Masters, Ph.D., also a professor in the Health Science Center’s Department of Biochemistry and a member of the prestigious Institute of Medicine of the National Academies of Science, who has held this Welch Foundation distinction for 20 years.
Dr. Nicholson said the Welch Foundation award has opened up an array of new and exciting research possibilities at the Health Science Center.
“The recruitment of Dr. Fields, and the potential this brings for building a new era of expertise at the Health Science Center would not have been possible without the Welch Foundation support and the national recognition that a Welch Chair brings with it,” Dr. Nicholson said.
Dr. Fields’ team strengthens the chemistry portion of drug-discovery research at the Health Science Center and its Cancer Therapy & Research Center because his research focuses on the design of new therapeutics that will help prevent the spread of tumors while minimizing side effects on other connective tissues of the body.
Dr. Nicholson said the significance of Dr. Fields’ recruitment was recognized by the UT System with its awarding of the Health Science Center’s first-ever STARs (Science and Technology Acquisition and Retention) Plus award, and its second STARs award, totaling $1.65 million. STARs funding is offered by the UT System to researchers who are accomplishing transformative work, and who, based on the opinions of internationally renowned experts, have the potential to be elected to the Institute of Medicine or to win the Nobel Prize.
The STARs and Welch Foundation funds will be used to renovate existing laboratory space and purchase new equipment needed to establish a nanomedicine research partnership with The University of Texas at San Antonio. STARs Plus funding will further allow the hiring of talented experts who possess the unique chemical training to accomplish this research effort. The goal of the partnership is to initiate more effective drug-discovery, delivery and targeting efforts in San Antonio.