President William L. Henrich, M.D., MACP

A Message from the President

What a profound responsibility it is to do this work. Historians will consider this a turning point.”
-Francis Collins, M.D., Ph.D., director of the National Institutes of Health

American physician-geneticist Dr. Francis Collins once spoke of the great responsibility associated with his research and leadership of the Human Genome Project. Because of his landmark discoveries of disease genes, he was described as one of the most accomplished scientists of our time.

At The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, our faculty researchers truly understand Dr. Collins’ philosophy. They work to make groundbreaking discoveries every day in areas such as aging, diabetes, cancer and oral health. Not only do they commit their lives to finding cures for diseases that afflict humanity, they take their responsibility further by mentoring the next generation of bioscientists.

On the cover of this issue of Mission is 16-year-old Stephanie Gonzales and her mentor, Veronica Galvan, Ph.D., an assistant professor of physiology and researcher at the Sam and Ann Barshop Institute for Longevity and Aging Studies. Under Dr. Galvan’s tutelage, Stephanie’s research could one day help lead to the development of drugs that may prevent age-related diseases and extend healthy lifespan. She is one of about 50 high school students who participated this summer in the Voelcker Biomedical Research Academy. Thanks to the generosity of the Max and Minnie Tomerlin Voelcker Fund, our faculty members are preparing students from San Antonio to perform research and advance cures in an array of serious illnesses.

Our students are privileged to receive one-on-one training from outstanding faculty. Over the years, we have recruited some of the world’s top scientists to our Health Science Center.In this issue, you’ll read about Kenneth Hargreaves, D.D.S., Ph.D., who, in labs in our Dental School, discovered how to block pain-causing compounds in the body, and is now developing a new class of nonaddictive painkillers.

With a $2 million grant from the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas (CPRIT), we recruited Dmitri Ivanov, Ph.D., from Harvard University, as the CPRIT Scholar in Cancer Research. Page 7 details how Dr. Ivanov is assembling the ultimate team of professionals to fight cancer. They are developing new anti-cancer agents for testing in Phase I clinical trials at our Health Science Center’s Cancer Therapy & Research Center (CTRC).

This past spring, the CTRC gained a leading physician-scientist to direct its Comprehensive Breast Health Clinic. A $500,000 gift from Ruth McLean Bowman Bowers allowed the CTRC’s Executive Director Ian M. Thompson Jr., M.D., to recruit Peter Ravdin, M.D., Ph.D. The article on page 10 describes how Dr. Ravdin is ensuring the clinic remains on the forefront of cancer research, treatment and compassionate care.

It is only with your help that we can continue to recruit this caliber of scientific talent. When historians recount this era in our journey, they will note, I am confident, that together we built a team who transformed our university into one of the country’s foremost academic health science centers. Thank you for sharing in our pledge to make lives better.


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

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