EDINBURG, Texas (KVEO) — UTRGV’S School of Medicine is growing again by adding a podiatry program – the only one in Texas. 

“Historically, anyone in Texas who wanted to be a podiatrist had to leave the state to get a degree to come back,” Dr. Lawrence Harkless, UTRGV School of Podiatry interim dean said. 

Dr. Harkless came out of retirement to serve as the new school’s dean and prepare the academic plan.  

“We will be taking the classes the medical school takes in the first two years, and then we will start teaching more podiatry-specific courses earlier,” he said.  

Dr. Harkless previously helped establish a College of Podiatric Medicine in Pomona, California, and says student mentorship will be at the forefront of this new program.  

“The foundation for that would be learn, serve, lead,” he said.  

According to the American Diabetes Association, the RGV has a diabetes rate three times higher than the national average, which Dr. Harkless says makes the area an ideal spot for the school.  

“(People) Can really stay in the community where they grew up and serve,” he said.  

The inaugural class will be welcomed in the fall of 2022, and UTRGV is already looking to hire 20 faculty with a passion for both teaching as well as research.   

“To have excellence in a student, every faculty member has to be excellent because they have to be able to teach that — whether in basic science, two years theory and fact or whether in clinical years,” he said.  

Along with the South Texas Diabetes and Obesity Institute of Brownsville, Dr. Harkless says the RGV could become medical leaders over genetics and genomics of the feet.