William L. Henrich, M.D., MACP

A message from the president

Advancing laboratory discoveries to the patient’s side has but one purpose: to make lives better

William L. Henrich, M.D., MACP President Professor of Medicine UT Health Science Center at San Antonio

At the recent luncheon of the President’s Council – at which we annually honor and thank our donors – guests at every table were engaged in conversation by our brightest and most committed researchers about their ongoing work in science and health care.

We are most grateful for the support we receive from these – and all – donors, as it is essential in enabling these investigators – across our five schools, on eight campuses, in four cities – to conduct intensive research that is not only innovative and imaginative, but highly relevant and life changing.

Additionally, gifts made by members of the President’s Council this year are funding the recruitment of outstanding new scientists to our Health Science Center; scholarships for deserving students; professorships for remarkably accomplished members of our faculty; and, for the next three years, the Voelcker Biomedical Research Academy, attended by promising and motivated high school students.

By the end of the President’s Council luncheon, the large and enthusiastic audience was vividly reminded of the undeniable necessity for research in the basic sciences and that such research is the very foundation of clinical treatments that save lives and change the world forever.

Here, at the UT Health Science Center San Antonio, we pledge our fullest energies and endeavor to translating discoveries in science into the most competent and compassionate of clinical care. This issue of Mission describes several specific and successful examples of taking basic science discovery to the bedside.

Ours is a setting in which basic-science researchers push the new frontier of epigenetics by understanding how interactions between genes and the environment turn genetic products on and off.

The Health Science Center is also the place where something as unusual as the bark of the Amur cork tree, long used in Chinese herbal medicine, is studied for its powers to sensitize cancer cells to the point where they succumb more completely to radiation, offering hope and life to prostate cancer patients.

Benchmark technology is a hero in the story of how our UT Medicine San Antonio cardiothoracic surgeons, plastic surgeons and radiologists have pioneered an innovative reconstruction technique that resolves chronic pain and disconcerting movements for patients living with unstable breastbones.

And, finally, we look to our cover story to define translational science at its best. It describes how – for the first time ever in a clinical setting – researchers in our Department of Endodontics have found that stem cells, abundant in the soft tissue surrounding children’s teeth, can be used to regenerate the tooth’s own tissue and cells. Today, our 12-year-old cover subject can again chew gum, eat apples and do what he most enjoys – ride his bike. Now that’s certainly worth a smile.

I thank you for all you do that supports our Health Science Center. Your partnership ennobles our work every day. You arethe reason we can continue to make lives better.


William L. Henrich, M.D., MACP
Professor of Medicine
UT Health Science Center at San Antonio

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