(Jan. 28, 2016) -- The University of Texas at San Antonio has received a $1 million gift from the Semmes Foundation to establish the Semmes Foundation Endowed Chair in Cell Biology. UTSA will use the gift to recruit a distinguished cell biologist to advance research efforts in brain health, opening up a host of new possibilities for treating, and preventing neurodegenerative disease.
The Semmes Foundation gift comes on the heels of another $1 million gift to create the Semmes Foundation Distinguished Chair in Neurobiology, which is held by George Perry, Dean of the College of Sciences, and one of the nation’s top Alzheimer’s disease researchers. Perry said he was humbled by the Semmes Foundation’s continued support of brain research.
“There is a long history of brain research at UTSA,” Perry said. “With this new chair, we’re better positioned to battle diseases of the brain.”
The position will be a part of the UTSA Neurosciences Institute, which has done vital work in studying the origin of brain diseases and looking for treatments for them, including efforts to understand the drug-addicted brain and advancements in the treatment of Parkinson’s disease. They’ve also researched how the bilingual brain works and studied how the brain responds to different kinds of learning.
Cell biology is especially important to understanding brain diseases because it is the study of the most basic parts of the cell. Neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s are the result of abnormalities in neurons and related cells.
“Simply put, we need to understand how the cells in the brain normally function so we can understand exactly what is going wrong to lead to each type of brain disease,” Perry said.
Recently UTSA has begun to establish a group of biologists across many specialties to conduct novel “disease-in-a-dish” studies in which they work with skin cells from someone with a neurodegenerative disease. The researchers then convert these cells into stem cells and then into neurons so they can discover what has gone wrong with the neurons from each patient.
“With these novel methods, we’ll be able to diagnose, and more importantly figure out how to effectively treat, reverse or even prevent these diseases,” said John McCarrey, Professor and Robert J. Kleberg, Jr. and Helen C. Kleberg Distinguished Chair in Cellular and Molecular Biology.
“Basic scientific research is vital for the prevention and cure of diseases of the brain,” said Pat Semmes, Director of the Semmes Foundation. “We are pleased to enable UTSA to expand its team of world-class scientists and graduate students who are working toward a better understanding of neurodegenerative diseases.”
Learn more about the UTSA Neurosciences Institute.
Learn more about the UTSA Department of Biology.
The Leadership Storytelling Homecoming Brunch brings together UTSA alumni and students to share a delicious meal as well as a roundtable conversation about how experiences in college carry us forward on unique leadership journeys.
University Center, Denman Room (UC 2.01.28), Main Campus
The conference is dedicated to sharing recent knowledge and experiences gained in the area of Big Data by researchers in academia, industry and the government sectors within the areas of business, national security, infrastructure, healthcare and visualization.
H-E-B University Center Ballroom (HUC 1.104), Main Campus
Former National Security Advisor Susan Rice, via webcast, will examine America’s economic, political and security relations with China during CHINA Town Hall, an 80-city live discussion and Q&A on China and Sino-American relations.
Building Building, Richard Liu Auditorium (BB 2.01.02), Main Campus
The African American Studies program proudly presents William "Cruz" Shaw, San Antonio City Councilman and UTSA Alumnus. Event is free and open to the public.
University Center, Retama Auditorium (UC 2.02.02), Main Campus
The graduate fair is an opportunity for the UTSA student body and local San Antonio community to learn about graduate education opportunities. The event is free and open to the public.
H-E-B University Center Ballroom (1.104), Main Campus
President Taylor Eighmy is inviting all UTSA students to "Pizza With The Prez." Come grab a slice of pizza and take the opportunity to introduce yourself to the President. Pizza while supplies last.
Frio Street Building, Food Court Commons Area, Downtown Campus
President Taylor Eighmy is inviting all UTSA faculty and staff to "Tacos With Taylor." Take the opportunity to introduce yourself to the President at any one of these casual meet and greets.
Biotechnology, Science and Engineering Building atrium, Main Campus
The College of Engineering Student Council and the San Antonio Hispanic Chamber of Commerce host this fun and education event. Erika Camacho is the keynote speaker. Children and families are welcome.
East Campus Parking Lot, Valero Way, Main Campus
The University of Texas at San Antonio is dedicated to the advancement of knowledge through research and discovery, teaching and learning, community engagement and public service. As an institution of access and excellence, UTSA embraces multicultural traditions and serves as a center for intellectual and creative resources as well as a catalyst for socioeconomic development and the commercialization of intellectual property - for Texas, the nation and the world.
To be a premier public research university, providing access to educational excellence and preparing citizen leaders for the global environment.
We encourage an environment of dialogue and discovery, where integrity, excellence, inclusiveness, respect, collaboration and innovation are fostered.