Table of Contents
Table of Contents
The Willerson Years
- James T. Willerson, M.D., named interim president of The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston, effective September 1, 2000.
- The UT System Board of Regents appoints Willerson the fourth president of the UT Health Science Center at Houston on March 9, 2001.
- June 9, 2001 - Tropical Storm Allison deluges the UT Medical School Building with an estimated 10 million gallons of flood water. Willerson begins to marshal support from government, private and philanthropic sources to fund eventual recovery and restoration from $155 million in total damages.
- In November 2003, Willerson leads a collaborative strategic planning process to produce a plan that emphasizes priorities and accountability at the university.
- In spring 2004, after success with a similar study in Brazil, Willerson and collaborators at the Texas Heart Institute launch one of the nation's first clinical trails of autologous stem cell therapy for heart failure patients.
- In June 2004, the UT School of Nursing moves into its new home, the "green" award-winning $57 million School of Nursing and Student Community Center. The school now ranks in the top five percent of the nation's nursing schools, according to U.S. News & World Report.
- The International Academy of Cardiovascular Sciences presents Willerson with the Medal of Merit in June 2004.
- In July 2004, Willerson ends his unprecedented three-term, 11-year stint as editor-in-chief of Circulation, the American Heart Association's largest scientific journal.
- On September 1, 2004, Willerson and other officials sign an agreement to purchase the
Hermann Professional Building at 6410 Fannin and rename it The University of Texas Health Science Center Professional Building. They also sign a re-affiliation agreement guaranteeing for the next 15 years that UT Medical School at Houston faculty members will continue on staff at Memorial Hermann -Texas Medical Center, where they treat patients, conduct research and train more than 450 medical students, residents and fellows each year.
- On October 6, 2004, Willerson is named president-elect of the Texas Heart Institute.
- In April 2005, Willerson assembles a task force of experts to examine available data related to outdoor air pollutants in the Houston area and to advise Mayor Bill White on those most likely to cause significant risks to human health. A year later, the final report of the Task Force on Reducing Air Quality Health Risks identifies a dozen pollutants that pose the highest risk to residents in the Greater Houston area.
- Willerson works to secure funding for the UT Medical School at Houston's new research space, and on April 12, 2005, there is a ceremonial groundbreaking for the Medical School Expansion, which opened in December 2008.
- On Sept. 1, 2005, Willerson announces that the university is organizing a plan to assist the city with Hurricane Katrina relief efforts. In the following weeks, faculty, staff, students and other UT volunteers provide medical care to thousands of evacuees at the George R. Brown Convention Center.
- Willerson embarks on an ambitious effort to recruit and retain "world's best scientists" in
many disciplines, resulting in the appointments of internationally known new faculty members such as: Dr. C. Thomas Caskey, leading geneticist (January 2006), Dr. Mauro Ferrari, pioneer in biomedical nanotechnology (April 2006), Dr. Paul Simmons, world leader in adult stem cell biology (May 2006) and Dr. Perry Bickel, renowned expert in obesity and metabolic disorders (September 2007).
- In the spring of 2006, Willerson is honored as an International Honorary Member of the
Japanese Circulation Society. He was among the first seven physicians outside of Japan to be inducted and one of only two Americans to receive the honor.
- On April 18, 2006, Willerson signs an agreement between the UT Health Science Center at Houston and TIRR Systems to merge research and education that will focus exclusively on rehabilitation.
- On May 16, 2006, Willerson and others participate in a ribbon-cutting ceremony at the Fayez S. Sarofim Research Building, the new home of The Brown Foundation Institute of Molecular Medicine for the Prevention of Human Diseases.
- October 3, 2006 - The National Institutes of Health (NIH) awards the UT Health Science Center at Houston a $36 million, five-year grant to enhance clinical and translational research, ultimately improving patient care and community health. It is one of the first 12 grants awarded nationally and is the first such award in Texas.
- On Nov. 17, 2006, Willerson is honored as the Outstanding Cardiologist 2006 at the Shanghai International Symposium of Cardiology.
- On April 24, 2007, Willerson and his wife, Nancy, are honored for their contributions to the health science center and the Houston community during "An Evening of Texas Traditions," a dinner to mark the institution's 35th anniversary.
- Dr. Ferid Murad, the Texas Medical Center's only Nobel laureate in Medicine, is named director emeritus of The Brown Foundation IMM, as well as Texas Nobel Scholar of the UT Health Science Center (June 2007).
- On August 30, 2007, under Willerson's leadership, the UT Health Science Center at Houston breaks ground on a $161.5-million Research Park Complex. The complex on East Road will be the home to a new Dental Branch building, a Neuroscience Building and the Biomedical Research and Education Facility.
- September 26, 2007 - Willerson announces his plan to step down as president of the health science center.
- August 1, 2008 - Willerson leaves the UT Health Science Center at Houston and becomes president of the Texas Heart Institute.
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