The UT System Board of Regents today approved the naming of the Biomedical Research and Advanced Imaging Building at UT Southwestern as the "Bill and Rita Clements Advanced Medical Imaging Building," in recognition of the significant contributions to higher education and academic medicine of Gov. Clements and his wife. It will house some of the world's largest and most sophisticated imaging equipment – including one of the nation's first 7-Tesla magnetic resonance imaging devices for human studies – and will encourage collaborative research efforts among UT Southwestern and other institutions to accelerate research into new diagnostic tests and treatments for debilitating neurological and metabolic illnesses.
"We have been supporters of UT Southwestern since its early years, and I've always been proud of my association with the medical center, which I regard as an important asset to the state of Texas," said Gov. Clements, whose gift will benefit the medical center's $500 million Innovations in Medicine campaign. "The new building will be a great addition to the campus, and we're happy to be a part of the future of biomedical research in this way."
UT Southwestern president Dr. Kern Wildenthal called Gov. and Rita Clements "true champions of Texas, higher education and medical science."
"This gift is monumental, and it will transform UT Southwestern's clinical and research programs in the most exciting area of medicine for the 21st century," Dr. Wildenthal said. "We are profoundly grateful for the extraordinary leadership of Bill and Rita Clements, whose generosity will enable us to complete a building that will be the envy of the rest of the country."
William T. Solomon, chairman of the Innovations in Medicine campaign and chairman of Austin Industries, said, "Bill and Rita Clements have always been innovators, and so it's especially fitting that this extraordinary gift enables the completion of the most cutting-edge facility on UT Southwestern's campus."
Dr. Craig Malloy, holder of the Richard A. Lange Chair in Cardiology and medical director of the new Advanced Imaging Research Center, which will be housed in part of the Clements Building, said, "The basic science and clinical impact of advanced imaging is widely agreed to be a critical element of new approaches to patient care. The new building will provide a dramatic expansion of imaging research and clinical capabilities at UT Southwestern."
The Clements Building – the latest addition to the UT Southwestern North Campus – will also house the Mary Nell and Ralph B. Rogers Magnetic Resonance Center, established in 1991 to provide MRI diagnostic tests for UT Southwestern patients.
The new Clements Building is a six-story structure containing 150,000 square feet of space. Core funding for the facility was provided by $56 million in bonds authorized by the 2003 Texas Legislature with the support of Speaker of the House Tom Craddick. The Clements funds will enable the building to be completed with the latest of modern equipment throughout.
The Clements Building will include 18 specially designed bays for clinical and research imaging devices. The largest of these will house the new 7-Tesla magnet, made available to UT Southwestern through a special federal appropriation of $7 million, championed by U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison. The 7T magnet is roughly 140,000 times more powerful than the Earth's magnetic field and is capable of the highest-resolution imaging currently available. MR images at 7T allow investigators to observe exquisitely small anatomical structures never before seen in the living human brain.
Dr. A. Dean Sherry, director of the Advanced Imaging Research Center, anticipates new applications for visualizing cellular function and a dramatic collaborative effort not only among researchers at UT Southwestern, but also between scientists at several other institutions from North Texas and beyond, including UT Arlington and UT Dallas. Dr. Sherry has a joint appointment as professor of radiology at UT Southwestern and professor of chemistry at UT Dallas, where he holds the Cecil and Ida Green Honors Chair.
"The possibilities are almost limitless," he said.
The $10 million gift from Gov. Clements follows his previous $1.25 million donation in 1998 to endow the Rita C. and William P. Clements Jr. Fund for Scholars in Medical Science.
Gov. Clements was Texas' first Republican governor since Reconstruction. He served two four-year terms (1979-1983, 1987-1991), making him the longest-sitting governor in the state's history.
In 1947 he founded SEDCO, which eventually became the world's largest oil and gas drilling contractor. He served as chairman of the board of SEDCO until 1985, one year after it merged with Schlumberger Limited.
Gov. Clements has also been an adviser to U.S. presidents. From 1969 through the early 1980s, he served on the president's Commission on Central America, the President's Commission on Strategic Forces and Department of Defense Blue Ribbon Defense Panel, and Deputy Secretary of Defense in the Nixon and Ford administrations.
A 1939 alumnus of Southern Methodist University, he served on the SMU Board of Governors for many years and as its board chairman. SMU has honored Gov. Clements with the Mustang Award for longtime service and philanthropy, an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree and the SMU Distinguished Alumni Award.
Rita Crocker Clements was appointed to the Board of Regents of The University of Texas System in November 1996 by then Gov. George W. Bush and was reappointed by Gov. Rick Perry in April 2001. She currently is vice chairman of the Board and chairs its Health Affairs Committee. She has served as a director of the UT Investment Management Company and as director of Team Bank and Bank One, Texas, as well as La Quinta Motor Inns and the Dr Pepper Co.
Mrs. Clements was named Distinguished Alumna of UT Austin in 1991. She has been a member of the UT Austin development board and served on the executive council of the university's Ex-Students' Association. She also serves as a life board member of the Hockaday School and served as chairman of the board of the Willis M. Tate Distinguished Lecture Series at SMU, and as chairman of the Salvation Army Dallas Metroplex Advisory Board.
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