(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.
MuTe Fest is a celebration of original music and technology. Three days of concerts, sessions, and informative lectures will offer a unique experience of musical works created by fellow UTSA students and the chance to gain valuable knowledge about music technology.
Art Building, Music Tech Lab (Arts 3.01.30B), Main Campus
UTSA Libraries hosts Assistant Professor Ian Caine for his lecture, Architectural Postcards from Space, as part of the popular Pizza + Research series. Pizza will be served while supplies last.
Buena Vista Street Building (BVB 2.304), Downtown Campus
The conference will showcase the works of authors, illustrators, and scholars which embody Latino culture and art as a means to promote literacy and reading in Latino children.
Durango Building, first floor, Downtown Campus
The theme of this year’s symposium is Black & Brown Futures. The free event will give UTSA students and the community the opportunity to meet and hear national scholars talk about current research and academic trends relevant to the lives of African Americans in the United States.
Student Union, Denman Room (SU 2.01.28), Main Campus
Registration is open now for this family-friendly and dog-friendly run that supports the UTSA Alumni Association scholarship fund.
Convocation Center, Main Campus
Join the Department of Interdisciplinary Learning and Teaching for the 14th Annual UTSA Storytelling Festival featuring Nancy Simpson, storyteller and keynote speaker. The event is free and open to the public.
Main Building, Ground Floor Lobby, Main Campus
Students are invited to a semi-formal, dinner banquet with an awards presentation and dancing. Keynote speaker will be San Antonio City Councilman William Cruz Shaw. Tickets must be purchased by Feb 19 at Roadrunner Express. UTSA students are $15 and guests are $20.
H-E-B Student Union Ballroom (HSU 1.104/1.106), Main Campus
Dr. Don Jenkins from UT Health SA will lead this event UTSA with up to 30 certified STB trainers, and train up to 300 UTSA students and personnel in stop the bleed methods.
H-E-B Student Union Ballroom (HSU 1.106), 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.
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