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Governor Briscoe supports studies of the heart, from the heart

Celebrating the Briscoe Family's legacy of giving are, left to right:
Bill Greehey, chairman of NuStar Energy L.P.; L. David Hillis, M.D., chairman of medicine at the Health Science Center; Governor Briscoe; William L. Henrich, M.D., M.A.C.P., president of the Health Science Center; Janey Briscoe Marmion; and Steven R. Bailey, M.D., chief of the Janey and Dolph Briscoe Division of Cardiology.

The Honorable Dolph Briscoe Jr. has led an amazing and exemplary life: graduate of The University of Texas; military service in World War II; eight years in the state Legislature; six years as governor of Texas; passage of important legislation; leadership in agriculture as a rancher and major landholder in South Texas.

He also was blessed, for nearly six decades, to be the husband of Janey Briscoe and father of their children. In 2000, two years after a major heart attack, Janey lost her battle with heart disease. The Governor credits cardiologists at The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio with giving him those last two years with Janey.

Governor Briscoe had long been a supporter of the UT Health Science Center, but since Janey's passing, he has given more than $9 million and established the Janey Briscoe Center of Excellence in Cardiovascular Research, which Steven R. Bailey, M.D., a renowned interventional cardiologist, directs. In appreciation, the Health Science Center last year named its cardiology division the Janey and Dolph Briscoe Division of Cardiology.

Among Governor Briscoe's gifts is $1 million invested in the Long Term Fund. It makes possible the Janey Briscoe Distinguished University Chair in Cardiovascular Research, held by Dr. Bailey.

"Until you need it, you don't realize what a precious resource we have in the UT Health Science Center," the Governor said in 2008. "I will always be grateful to the doctors who took care of Janey, especially Dr. Bailey. I have no doubt that they gave me at least two more years to share with Janey. You cannot put a price tag on having more time with your loved one."

William L. Henrich, M.D., M.A.C.P., president of the Health Science Center, said: "Governor Briscoe is a great Texan who, in a Texas-sized way, has given of his own resources to help others. Endowments such as the Janey Briscoe Distinguished University Chair are essential to ignite science and bring leading-edge discoveries to our communities. These funds are the single most critical element in moving the Health Science Center from a very good academic health center to a great one."

Dr. Bailey and his colleagues are studying therapies that will lead to true biological reversal of the cardiovascular disease process. Research falls into several categories:

  • improving understanding of the mechanics of heart attack, heart failure and stroke;
  • developing methods to deliver genes to the cardiovascular system to heal blood vessels and organs;
  • developing methods to grow new tissues, with the goal of forming new arteries and other heart tissues;
  • developing implantable devices and materials that can be reabsorbed by the body once their work is done.

Governor Briscoe has supported various other Health Science Center initiatives over the years, and the library at the Health Science Center is named the Dolph Briscoe Jr. Library. Mrs. Briscoe was a former member of The University of Texas System Board of Regents.