A plan to build a $12.2 million Classroom and Office Building for the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley School of Medicine in Edinburg will be considered in Austin when the University of Texas System Board of Regents meets on Monday, February 26, 2018 and Tuesday, February 27, 2018, according to Rep. Terry Canales, D-Edinburg, and the Edinburg Economic Development Corporation.

In addition, the nine-member UT System Board of Regents will consider purchasing a condominium building containing approximately 17,442 square feet of space on approximately 1.27 acres of land located at the northeast Corner of South Jackson Road and Lindsay Boulevard for medical, educational, office, and clinical use, from Banco Mercantil del Norte, S.A.

This property is located approximately two and a half miles from UTRGV’s Edinburg campus and is adjacent to a medically-oriented facility within one mile of Doctors Hospital at Renaissance, which is UTRGV’s Valley’s teaching hospital. Not to exceed fair market value as determined by an independent appraisal performed by Aguirre & Patterson, Inc.; appraisal confidential pursuant to Texas Education Code Section 51.951

Also on the agenda, but scheduled to be held in executive session (behind closed doors), is a discussion with UTRGV President Guy Bailey regarding the assignment and duties, including individual responsibilities associated with outlining a vision and plans for the future of the institution. That item is one of 18 topics, involving other UT System campuses.

The Edinburg EDC is the jobs-creation arm of Mayor Richard Molina, Mayor Pro-Tem David Torres, Councilmember Homer Jasso, Jr., Councilmember Gilbert Enríquez, and Councilmember Jorge Salinas.

The Edinburg EDC Board of Directors is comprised of City Councilmember Gilbert Enríquez as President, Edinburg School Board Trustee Miguel “Mike” Farías as Vice-President, Isael Posadas, P.E., as Secretary/Treasurer, and Julio César Carranza and Noé Sauceda, Ph.D. as Members.

Canales represents House District 40, of which UTRGV and its School of Medicine have major campuses in the heart of Edinburg.

During the 2013 regular session of the Texas Legislature, Canales was a House cosponsor of Senate Bill 24, whose main author was Sen. Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa, D-McAllen, with Rep. René Oliveira, D-Brownsville, serving as the main House sponsor. SB 24 merged the University of Texas-Pan American in Edinburg and the University of Texas at Brownsville into UTRGV, and created the UTRGV School of Medicine.

SB 24 also allows UTRGV and its School of Medicine access to the Permanent University Fund, a source of money for the UT System and Texas A&M System – valued at about $19 billion – that is used to help pay for new buildings.

The money for the planned $12.2 million facility in Edinburg will be coming from the PUF.

Formally known as the UT Rio Grande Valley School of Medicine Classroom and Office Building, it will be 21,300 gross square feet in size, with the construction value of the structure estimated at $5,875,885. The other costs of the project include professional fees ($1,500,000), site development ($1,265,000), architectural/design services ($716,702), furniture and moveable equipment ($700,896), fixed equipment ($600,000), project management fees ($461,771), project contingency ($400,000), institutionally managed work ($390,000), insurance ($251,851), and other costs ($37,895).

Once finished, with the substantial completion date projected for November 2019, the School of Medicine Classroom and Office Building will increase enrollment at the Edinburg campus from 100 to 200 students within one year of completion.

The construction could begin as early as September 2018.

“This facility is necessary to accommodate current and expected growth in the School of Medicine while maintaining the mission of the school as a catalyst for education in health care,” states the executive summary provided to the UT System Board of Regents by UT System leaders. “The building will house faculty and administrative offices, small group study spaces for the growing medical student population, flexible and general purpose classrooms, conference rooms, and support spaces.”

The proposed project will be an extension of the existing $54 million, 88,260 gross-square-foot Medical Education Building, which opened in the summer of 2016, when the first class of future physicians began their advanced studies in Edinburg.

First- and second-year medical students are served by the School of Medicine Campus in Edinburg.

Other background information about the $12.2 million UT Rio Grande Valley School of Medicine Classroom and Office Building proposal includes that on November 19, 2017, the UT System chancellor approved this project for Definition Phase in the amount of $12,200,000.

On December 6, 2012, the UT System Board of Regents approved $100 million over the next 10 years of unspecified resources to be used for start-up costs for the School of Medicine. To date, the board has fulfilled this commitment through multiple appropriations of Permanent University Fund (PUF) Bond Proceeds totaling $50 million.

On February 6, 2014, the Board authorized construction of the South Texas Medical Academic Building (STMAB) with funding of $54,000,000 from PUF Bond Proceeds.

On October 2, 2017, the chancellor approved a transfer of $5,002,268 of unspent PUF Bond Proceeds from the STMAB project to this proposed project.

On August 20, 2015, the Board approved $10,000,000 in PUF Bond Proceeds to be used in support of eligible capital expenses associated with the start-up of the medical school, of which $7,197,732 will be transferred to this proposed project.



Dr. Joanne Curran, of the South Texas Diabetes and Obesity Institute and the Department of Human Genetics at the UTRGV School of Medicine, on Wednesday, January 31, 2018, received a four-year, $2.36 million grant from the National Institutes of Health’s National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute to study the relationship between human lipid variation and cardiovascular disease.

“This grant supports the UTRGV School of Medicine’s mission of engaging in research that will lead to innovations in the prevention and treatment of common illnesses in the Rio Grande Valley, such as cardiovascular disease, and will improve health outcomes for patients in the Valley and beyond,” said Dr. John H. Krouse, Dean of the UTRGV School of Medicine and Vice President of Health Affairs at UTRGV.

The project, “Genetic Determinants of Lipidomic Variation and Their Role in Cardiovascular Disease Risk,” seeks to identify specific genes that influence lipid variation and the risk of developing cardiovascular disease.

Lipids are important for the normal function of our cells and are important in human health. The breakdown of lipid function has been associated with many diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease and even psychiatric diseases. Cholesterol and triglycerides are lipids.

Curran and Dr. Peter Meikle, an associate professor and head of the Metabolomics Laboratory at the Baker Heart and Diabetes Institute in Australia, are principal investigators of this grant.

Curran and her team of researchers will use plasma samples STDOI has collected from large families of Mexican Americans who have participated in the institute’s ongoing research on heart disease, diabetes, obesity and related disorders, to generate lipid profiles for each sample. Then they will use whole genome sequence data to identify genes that influence lipid variation and cardiovascular disease risk.

“We’re looking for genes that are both influenced by lipids and have an influence on cardiovascular disease,” Curran said.

Researchers will look at 2,500 samples, some going back more than 25 years, from participating families to identify changes in lipid levels over time, to see if there is also a change in risk for cardiovascular disease.

UTRGV scientists, along with colleagues from the Baker Heart and Diabetes Institute in Australia, plan to measure more than 700 lipid species – the components that make up more complex lipids such as HDL and LDL cholesterol – which are genetic traits passed down in a family from parents to children, to identify lipids that influence cardiovascular disease.

Curran said she hopes the genes identified will lead to the development of medications for cholesterol management and the treatment of cardiovascular disease.

“Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death globally, posing a huge economic burden,” Curran said. “The ability to identify genes that are causally involved in disease risk provides an unparalleled opportunity to quickly determine biological pathways involved in disease pathology. A better understanding of the genetic contribution to lipid variation and the development of cardiovascular disease will provide novel approaches for the characterization, treatment and potential prevention of this costly disease.”

The grant will run through December 31, 2021.






Jennifer Berghom contributed to this article. For more information on the Edinburg Economic Development Corporation and the City of Edinburg, please log on to http://edinburgedc.com or to http://www.facebook