Of Tiny Mice and Giant Discoveries: Past Guides Future of Aging Research

By Michael Seringer

When Francisco Cigarroa, MD, first became president of UT Health San Antonio in 2000, a community and business leader called him with a new idea.

“Sam Barshop [founder of La Quinta Inns, Inc. and former Regent of UT System] calls me up and says, ‘I have this great idea. You need to invest in aging research.’

“ ‘Why?’ I said. ‘Look around you, Dr. Cigarroa, we are all aging,’ he said. ‘All the baby boomers like you are aging. I am good at business, and I’m telling you we gotta invest in aging research.’ ”

Sam Barshop was right, and his vision led to the basic research-to-clinic pipeline that exists today at the Sam and Ann Barshop Institute for Longevity and Aging Studies.

There is much more to aging than its inevitability. UT Health San Antonio is finding answers to aging hidden among many abnormalities, such as deficient genes and tangled tau proteins. The Barshop Institute is not only making key laboratory discoveries, its researchers are working hard to translate discoveries all the way to the clinic—and it all started with tiny mice.

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