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MCALLEN, RGV – A new biomedical research building was officially opened by the UT-Rio Grande Valley School of Medicine on Wednesday, March 13, 2019.

The new facility is a collaboration between the school of medicine, the City of McAllen and DHR Health.

One of the speakers was Dr. John Krouse, dean of the school of medicine. Here are his remarks to those who attended the ribbon-cutting ceremony:

“I would first like to thank Mayor Darling and the city commissioners, we have Mr. Villarreal here, we have Ms. Whitacre here, we have Mr. Zamora here. Thanks to all of you for your support, your ongoing and sustained support. It is very important to us. We really honor and respect that partnership that we have going forward. 

“One of the keys for us at the School of Medicine here is to engage the residents of the Valley in every way, to have students from the Valley as Jim (Darling) said, who can go to school here, go to medical school here, go to residency here at DHR or one of our other sites and then stay here in practice. That really what we want to do. 

“We also want to build research in the same way and in this wonderful building, what you are going to see is we are going to have neuroscientists and cancer immunologists and geneticists, and microbiologists who are all going to work together here in order to grow the research enterprise that is not only important for the school, it is important for the entire community. Because the kinds of things that we study here are diseases that are common in the Valley. And if we can research the causes and the diagnosis and the treatment of those diseases it will change the lives of many people here. And with our partners, with DHR, if we can keep those people here in the Valley for treatment and not have to go to San Antonio or Houston, even better. No one in the Valley should need to leave the Valley for care. We have world class care here. They don’t need to go elsewhere. 

“With this building we really are going to address a number of diseases. One of those that I want to focus on is cervical cancer and this is where we have partnered with the city because cervical cancer in women occurs more frequently in the Valley and when it occurs the mortality rate is much higher in the Valley. That is just unacceptable. That is something we need to address and we need to fix. 

“So, one of the things we did for that is we recruited a team of researchers from out of the area who will be joining us here in the summer, five faculty researchers, ten PhD post-doctorate researchers, a team of 15 people and staff that will be filling this building. Those are people working on cancer, cancer immunology, and those are new people moving into the Valley and continuing to lift the growth of the economy here in the Valley. That is critical for all of us. They will be the ones who advise the new therapeutic, the immunogenic, the things that really will change this disease over time and we will look to them and our other researchers in this building.

“This is going to contain a variety of high tech instruments. We are going to have molecular imaging, we are going to have genomics here, we are going to work with the South Texas Diabetes and Obesity Institute. I see a number of the researchers from the STOI here today. They are going to have a presence in this building, which is going to help us work with our DHR partners around diabetes in this area. It is a huge disease. It is a disease with great morbidity. It doesn’t have to be that way, if we can look at new ways to deal with this. In addition, with this team coming we will be starting a PhD program in immunology and what that will allow us to do is train students to be the next generation of scientists looking at this area. We are doing that in immunology, we are doing that in genetics and we are doing that in neuroscience.

“In addition, what we are trying to do with all of this is really make the UTRGV School of Medicine in partnership with our clinical partners, and academic health system that we can all be proud of. I think in working together, that is something we will accomplish. So, once again, I do not want to take up a lot of your time on this hot day. I think you want to get inside and take a look at the facility. I want to again thank McAllen and the mayor and the commissioners here today. Thank you all for coming out, thank Dr. Bailey for his unwavering support of the medical school. Please let’s go and enjoy the building. Thank you again.”

Editor’s Note: This is the first of a two-part series on UT-Rio Grande Valley School of Medicine’s new biomedical research facility. Part Two will be published later this week.

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