Honoring a lawmaker who helps move UNTHSC forward

Rep. Charlie Geren, UNT System Chancellor Lesa Roe, UNT System Regent Glen Whitley and UNTHSC President Michael Williams celebrate a construction milestone for the new Interdisciplinary Research and Education Building in October.

By Jeff Carlton

UNT Health Science Center has awarded Charlie Geren its Vision Award, UNTHSC’s highest recognition of service for the state representative’s decades-long support of the university’s growth and progress.

“Time after time, Charlie Geren has stepped forward to help move our institution forward,” said Dr. Michael R. Williams, President of UNTHSC. “He has consistently served as a vocal supporter for all areas of UNTHSC and the many benefits that our schools and programs offer.”

Rep. Geren’s longstanding support for UNT Health Science Center’s DNA program is a critical factor in its development into one of the nation’s premier laboratories for human identification. In addition to securing the lab’s state appropriations, he wrote a bill recognizing it as a sanctioned crime lab, making it eligible to apply directly to the US Department of Justice for additional grants and awards.

Since his initial involvement, the UNT Center for Human Identification has assisted in nearly 30,000 forensic and missing person cases, processed more than 15,000 DNA samples and completed nearly 4,000 sexual assault cases. The lab has assisted 210 of Texas’ 254 counties in DNA identification cases, making it an integral part of the criminal investigation and law enforcement operation in the Lone Star State.

Rep. Geren also was instrumental in ensuring UNTHSC’s role in the Texas Alzheimer’s Research and Care Consortium, which is a collaboration among nine of the state’s leading medical research institutions. And in the last legislative session, he helped secure nearly unanimous support for House Bill 1913, which removed the prohibition against UNTHSC awarding an MD degree.

The bill set UNTHSC up for success as it moves forward in its effort to have a dual-name degree through the new TCU and UNTHSC School of Medicine, which is scheduled to open in 2019, pending accreditation. It also strengthened UNTHSC’s position as it pursues new and expanded affiliations and rotations with hospital systems and works to increase the number of residency opportunities for graduates of the new school and the Texas College of Osteopathic Medicine.

“I appreciate this award – and UNT Health Science Center’s commitment to training the health care providers who are going to care of the citizens of Tarrant County,” Geren said. “I’m proud to support UNTHSC and its efforts to make Texas a healthier place to live.”

Since Geren took office in 2001, UNT Health Science Center has added three schools: the School of Health Professions, the UNT System College of Pharmacy and the new School of Medicine. With Geren’s leadership in the Legislature, UNTHSC also has improved its infrastructure, adding the Center for BioHealth, the Medical Education and Training Building, and the new Interdisciplinary Research and Education Building, scheduled to open later this year.

“From my perspective, Representative Geren has been not only a true advocate, but he has been a partner, friend and advisor to UNTHSC and me, personally,” Dr. Williams said. “His support is unwavering.”

The Vision Award was established in 2008 to recognize community members who strive to help advance the Health Science Center’s mission to create solutions for a healthier community. Previous recipients include Congresswoman Kay Granger, community supporter Michele Reynolds and the late Val Wilkie Jr., formerly of the Sid Richardson Foundation.

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