Research makes UNTHSC better and Fort Worth stronger

Published: April 24, 2017

a profile image of president mike williams and the words 'now and next'

Dear team,

In the early days of this university, when classes took place in a converted bowling alley along Camp Bowie Boulevard, innovative research on our campus was in its infancy.

Back then, we literally were just one school. But our growing research programs eventually led to the creation of the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences, founded in 1993 and setting us on the path to become a true Health Science Center.

Since then, we have marched forward, with discoveries in the laboratory that create solutions for our community and improve the lives of others. It’s a journey that continues today, as we work toward my vision of One University using extraordinary teamwork to define and produce providers of the future.

Providers are more than the doctors, nurses or therapists who treat you in clinical settings. They are also, for example, the researchers in the lab, working to understand the biological mechanisms of disease to identify new therapeutic targets. Or the public health professionals, tackling challenges like childhood obesity or infant mortality.

What does this look like? Let’s start with Sid O’Bryant and his team in the Center for Alzheimer’s and Neurodegenerative Disease Research. They observed that Alzheimer’s drugs that fail in clinical trials are actually successful in treating a fraction of the study’s participants.

That observation led to a flash of insight. Dr. O’Bryant developed a blood test that can identify the fraction of people most likely to respond successfully to a so-called “failed” drug.

It’s scientific discovery that when paired with an entrepreneurial spirit will change the way UNTHSC turns research into results for our community.

A provider is someone like Amy Raines Milenkov, who’s trying to reverse Texas’ startling high rates of maternal mortality by pushing for better health care access, expanded coverage and drug treatment programs. Or Styliani Goulopoulou in the Institute for Cardiovascular and Metabolic Diseases, who is addressing the same health challenge through research focused on preeclampsia.

A provider is also someone like the remarkable Andras Lacko, who’s studying how to use the miracles of nanotechnology to deliver anti-cancer drugs directly to tumors while bypassing healthy tissue. Or the team in our Institute for Patient Safety, who through research is determining better, safer ways to care for patients in ambulatory settings.

This kind of research is a key part of our financial health as well. Total research funding at UNTHSC has increased by roughly 30 percent to $47.2 million – just in the last five years. And

we’re making better cases for that funding. Last fiscal year, we submitted 100 fewer grant proposals than the year before but received nearly $5 million more in funding.

There are hundreds of students, staff, postdocs and faculty performing extraordinary teamwork in research labs across campus, making us a better university and Fort Worth a stronger community.

I am so proud of the research we do now and excited about what’s next.


Dr. Michael R. Williams