This year the Texas Research Park is celebrating a rich 10-year history of continuous growth and pioneering research that has drawn acclaim from around the world.
Wen-Hwa Lee, Ph.D., director of the
Institute of Biotechnology (IBT), and his colleagues at
the Texas Research Park are celebrating 10 years of
conducting innovative research.
Situated in the beautiful Hill Country 20 miles west of the Health Science Center, the Texas Research Park boasts the Institute of Biotechnology (IBT) which is sharing in the 10-year anniversary celebration.
Much of the success of the Texas Research Park in general and the IBT in particular rests in the hands of one man, Wen-Hwa Lee, Ph.D.
Dr. Lee left his laboratory in Southern California almost 10 years ago to travel to the newly built Hayden Head Building at the IBT. His mission was clear - build a world-class research facility in the brushland of South Texas.
While some may have had a difficult time picturing a full-fledged research park of international standing as they gazed at the wildflowers and mesquite trees, Dr. Lee saw a challenge that he could meet. A decade later, the institute continues to grow in staff and reputation, drawing top scientists to its ranks and developing a world-class graduate program in molecular medicine.
"It has been a very exciting time for us," said Dr. Lee, director of the IBT, who arrived in San Antonio in July 1991 with his wife and fellow researcher, Eva Lee, Ph.D., and a team of 20 investigators. "We have achieved a great deal over the years and the future of this park is very bright."
What began as a team of 30 scientists in a largely vacant building has grown into a group of 110 researchers in four sets of laboratories. They conduct investigations in molecular medicine that may one day lead the way to treatments for a host of diseases.
"It has been tremendously satisfying to go from nothing to what is here now and to see the potential for the future," said Z. Dave Sharp, Ph.D., deputy director of the IBT. Dr. Sharp moved his laboratories and team of five researchers to the building in 1990 to prepare for Dr. Lee's arrival. "It is an environment that fosters critical leading-edge science."
Leading-edge science is just what Dr. Lee had in mind when he moved his laboratories to Texas. Dr. Lee was a pioneering cancer geneticist when he took the reins of the IBT, having already led research that found the first human gene linked to the causes of cancer.
"I have learned a lot in the last nine years," said Dr. Lee. "I succeed because my staff shares the same vision I do. They share my optimism, so I know we can make it."
As the institute's staff and reputation have grown, grant funding for researchers and projects also has increased. Funding from the National Institutes of Health climbed from $6 million in the institution's fledgling years to $23 million in 1999. Many of the IBT's scientists and their projects have been featured in national and international journals.
Along with its research reputation, the institute has built a thriving graduate program in molecular medicine. Since its inception in 1993, initial student enrollment has more than doubled, making molecular medicine the largest graduate program at the Health Science Center.
Dr. Lee continues to look to the future, hoping to add more researchers and students to the IBT staff, and predicting that the institution will be an intricate part of the research mecca envisioned for the Texas Research Park. At this time, the South Texas Centers for Biology in Medicine, located adjacent to the IBT, is under construction, and plans for more research facilities are under way.
"It is a great opportunity for us to build a critical mass of scientists in this research park," said Dr. Lee. "As we work together, we will be able to build a truly outstanding biotechnology center in San Antonio."