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$1.2 million awarded for collaborative research
By Melissa C. Rodriguez, Public Affairs Specialist I
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Posted: 03/12/2007
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The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio announced a $1.2 million grant March 9 that will enable UTHSCA researchers to mentor three junior faculty members from The University of Texas-Pan American on diabetes and schizophrenia research.

“What a great joy to partner with and be a part of this great campus in this research,” said Dr. Francisco Cigarroa, president of The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio. “The grant that Dr. Escamilla has received will focus attention on complex diseases that are prevalent in South Texas.”


UTPA Image
Pictured from left to right are Dr. Andres Figueroa, UTPA assistant professor of computer science; Dr. Michael A. Escamilla, the Mary Weir professor in the Health Science Center’s department of psychiatry who will mentor the UTPA faculty members; Dr. Anita Baines-Davelos, UTPA assistant professor of biology; and Dr. Jonathan Lieman, UTPA assistant professor of biology.
The grant will fund studies that look at the interaction of genetics and environment, including how these interactions occur and how they lead to the development of these diseases in Hispanics.

Dr. Michael A. Escamilla, the Mary Weir professor in the Health Science Center’s department of psychiatry, will lead the program and mentor UTPA faculty members Dr. Andres Figueroa, assistant professor in the department of computer science who specializes in bioinformatics and genetics; Dr. Anita Baines-Davelos, assistant professor in the department of biology whose interest is the gene-environment interaction; and Dr. Jonathan Lieman, assistant professor of biology who specializes in molecular biology.

“We are grateful to Dr. Escamilla for choosing to do his work here,” UTPA President Dr. Blandina Cárdenas said. “We all know someone who has lost some part of their body due to diabetes. By being in this area, that sense of urgency and purpose becomes so much stronger.”

Baines-Davelos, who will be among the first to be mentored by Escamilla, said she was excited about the chance to work on such interesting research.

“This is an amazing opportunity and I think Dr. Escamilla has done a fantastic job of putting together a team of people who can accomplish this research,” she said.

Escamilla will spend 20 percent of his time working with UTPA’s three faculty members in the Health Science Center’s Regional Academic Health Center (RAHC) Medical Research Division adjacent to UTPA in Edinburg. The state-of-the-art, $20 million center is the first and only biomedical research facility of its type on the Texas-Mexico border.

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