On Monday, the McAllen City Commission voted to approve funding for The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley School of Medicine.
The school will obtain $1 million to fund cancer immunology research, specifically to study how cervical cancer affects Hispanic women.
“We’re not sure that if in the Mexican-American population,” said John Krouse, dean of the UTRGV School of Medicine. “We are not sure that the treatments work the same, and we want to develop a good understanding of that so we can directly feedback what we learn in the lab and use that to treat patients here in the Valley.”
Krouse said the research program is not only a step towards advancing medical research, but improving the local economy, as well.
“The goal is that over time we could attract industry partners,” Krouse said.
Approximately 50 researchers and staff will be hired as part of the five-year program. But, not everyone was on board with the commission’s decision Monday night.
“They just gave them a blank check for $1 million,” said Tim Wilkins, who is running for District 1 commissioner in the city’s upcoming special election.
Wilkins said he supports the project, but not the way the commission went about approving the funds.
“They haven’t even started the process of recruitment,” Wilkins said. “They are going to start now that they have our million dollars, but what’s going to happen when they run out and they don’t have any more money?”
Krouse says the university will provide some of its own funding to continue the program in the future.