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UT System Regents grant $77.1 million for new UT Health Science Center buildings


HOUSTON—(Aug. 10, 2006)—Meeting in Arlington, the Board of Regents of The University of Texas System today allocated a total $77.1 million from the Permanent University Fund (PUF) to three new construction projects at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston.

A total $41.1 million will create a Biomedical Research and Education Center, which will be the primary home for adult stem cell research and teaching. The planned $62-million facility will contain laboratories, support spaces, multipurpose conference rooms and office space.

James T. Willerson, M.D., president of the UT Health Science Center at Houston, is a leading scientist in adult stem cell research, committed to investigating human stem cell transplantation in all areas, including cardiovascular disease, spinal cord injuries, diabetes and cancer.

“Research that will be done at the new Biomedical Research and Education Center, at our Brown Foundation Institute of Molecular Medicine for the Prevention of Human Diseases (IMM), and through our affiliation with the Texas Heart Institute, will dramatically change the way we educate the physicians of tomorrow, and how they treat their patients,” Willerson said. “That is the ultimate goal of stem cell research – translating findings in the laboratory to the bedsides and doctors’ offices where future generations will feel the impact of what we are beginning to do today. ”We are also very hopeful that the institutions of the Texas Medical Center and their scientists involved in stem cell research, and other stem cell scientists throughout the UT System, will collaborate with us in this new research facility.”

Willerson also is president-elect of the Texas Heart Institute (THI) at St. Luke’s Episcopal Hospital, where he and Emerson Perin, M.D. Ph.D., conduct clinical studies approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) using a patient’s own bone marrow-derived stem cells injected into their hearts to treat severe heart failure. Perin is director of New Interventional Cardiovascular Technology and medical director of the Stem Cell Center at THI.

The University of Texas Dental Branch at Houston will get $18 million in PUF money for new construction to replace its current six-story building, which opened in 1955. The 79th Legislature previously appropriated $60 in tuition revenue bonds (TRBs) for the project, which is estimated to cost at least $90 million to complete.

“This new building is about more than just a replacement facility; it’s about improving an entire institution and subsequently the health of our community and the advancement of the dental profession,” said Catherine M. Flaitz, D.D.S., dean of the UT Dental Branch. “This building will be constructed with the next 20 years in mind.”

The UT Dental Branch will seek additional funding from foundations and private individuals for construction, equipment, research expansion, faculty endowments and student scholarships. Houston endodontist Stephen F. Schwartz, D.D.S., a UT Dental Branch alumnus, will lead the fund-raising campaign.

“Our dental education program, the only one in the Texas Medical Center, deserves a state-of-the-art facility where the world’s best dental clinicians can collaborate with the best in oral health research,” Willerson said. “We at the health science center recognize the importance of oral health in relationship to systemic health and quality of life, and I look forward to helping Dean Flaitz complete fund-raising and construction of our new dental school.”

Both the Biomedical Research and Education Center and the new dental school building will be located in the UT Research Park, a 100-acre site that is being jointly developed by the UT Health Science Center and The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center on the “South Campus” of the Texas Medical Center.

The Regents also approved $18 million to support ongoing construction of the Replacement Research Facility at The University of Texas Medical School at Houston. The six-story research building at Fannin Street and John Freeman Boulevard in the Texas Medical Center should be ready for occupancy by Fall 2007. The total cost of $80.53 million is being met with state dollars and funding from a variety of sources – including philanthropic gifts, tuition revenue bonds from the Legislature, two National Institutes of Health grants, and Federal Emergency Management Agency and insurance payments from Tropical Storm Allison losses.

“We are delighted that the UT System Board of Regents, in providing these funds, continues to nurture our research mission and the training of scientists and clinical investigators of the future,” said Jerry S. Wolinsky, M.D., interim dean of the UT Medical School at Houston. “The new building will give us a state-of-the-art animal care facility and four floors of critical environments for attracting new scientists and strengthening our current expertise in basic and translational research, where multiple emerging areas of knowledge will improve the lives of Texans and the larger international community for generations to come.”

The Permanent University Fund (the “PUF”) is a public endowment contributing to the support of institutions of The University of Texas System (other than The University of Texas - Pan American and The University of Texas at Brownsville) and institutions of The Texas A&M University System (other than Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi, Texas A&M International University, Texas A&M University-Kingsville, West Texas A&M University, Texas A&M University Commerce, Texas A&M University Texarkana, and Baylor College of Dentistry). The PUF was established in the Texas Constitution of 1876.

For more on today’s unprecedented investment of $2.56 billion by the Board of Regents to boost the UT System’s competitiveness in key scientific areas, click here:


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