HARLINGEN, RGV – Around 35 acres of land located in Harlingen will go towards a new institute of neurosciences and other medical related facilities.

Randolph “Randy” Whittington, attorney and president of the South Texas Medical Foundation (STMF), announced the organization will donate approximately 35 acres of land to the UT-Rio Grande Valley School of Medicine for the development of an institute of neurosciences. Last year, the Valley Baptist Legacy Foundation gave a grant of $15 million to go towards operations.

“The Institute of Neurosciences is going to be a center which does research on brain health and other aspects of neurosciences,” Whittington said, “Medical education will [most likely] include a neurology or neurosciences residency program. It will focus on all types of subjects from psychiatry, alzheimer’s and other mental health issues.”

One reason it is important to have an institute of neurosciences in the region, said Whittington, is because it is a part of a conscious effort by Dr. John Krouse, the dean of the UTRGV School of Medicine, and Dr. Guy Bailey, the president of UTRGV, to make UTRGV a first tier research institute. Another reason is because the institute is part of a larger initiative within the UT System, Whittington explained.

“[The institute] is part of an initiative that the Chancellor of the University of Texas System, Admiral William McRaven, started when he first became chancellor to create brain health centers or institutes of neurosciences in various places within the UT system,” Whittington said.

According to Whittington, the 35 acres of land is located near the Regional Academic Health Center and was acquired for approximately $2.5 million. The plan is the Institute of Neurosciences will be a facility between 50,000- to 70,000-square-feet.

Whittington told the Rio Grande Guardian Krouse and Bailey have other medical school- and UTRGV-related ideas for the land. Based on recent conversations, planning and designing of the institute will take approximately between 12 to 18 months before construction.

STMF was formed in 2010 in response to a bill passed by Texas Legislature in 2009 that authorized the creation of the UTRGV School of Medicine. The 35 acres of land will be the foundation’s first gift to the medical school. Whittington said STMF pledged money for an endowed chair to the school and is still in the works. Once that is settled, the foundation will focus most of their efforts on raising money for scholarships.

Asked about the land gift, Jennifer Berghom, public information officer for UTRGV School of Medicine, said the item “has not been finalized and will be reviewed by the Board of Regents at an upcoming meeting.”