UTSA receives $1 million gift from Semmes Foundation to advance brain health research
(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.
Make the most of your college experience by applying to be part of the 2020 Homecoming Court or the next Mr. or Ms. UTSA. Applications are now open for the Homecoming Court—from which Mr. & Ms. UTSA 2021 will be selected. Deadline is Friday, July 31 at 11:59 p.m.Virtual Event
Are you successful in your goals and activities? How do you know? Analyze current and past personal and team goals and effectively evaluate progress.Virtual Event
Your student organization can stay engaged this summer with the Student Organization Impact Series to help prep organization leaders on how to best guide an organization for the new academic year.Virtual Event
What is ethical leadership? Examine definitions, necessary principles and practice skills to navigate potentially challenging situations in the workplace, school settings and personal life.Virtual Event
In this Zoom forum, UTSA faculty and students are invited to participate in a discussion on how we can work collaboratively on creating a better experience for digital courses.Virtual Event
Grab your grub and drop in for a lively lunchtime conversation with this series on the culture and business of food in San Antonio. Free and open to the public.Virtual Town Event
Get your thinking caps on for a livestream game night like no other. The gaming will include a scavenger hunt, secret words, chat-room challenges and more.Virtual Event