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WATCH: SAQ Virtual Town Hall: Mayor Nirenberg, local bioscience experts

SAN ANTONIO – San Antonio is home to medical and academic research institutions, an innovative private sector and active military missions, and they are all developing innovative technologies to fight COVID-19.

On Wednesday, April 15, KSAT hosted and broadcasted a Virtual Town Hall with Mayor Ron Nirenberg and local bioscience experts about local innovative solutions.

The panelists included:

  • Dr. Larry Schlesinger, President/CEO of Texas Biomedical Research Institute
  • Rachel Beddard, MD, Chief Medical Officer of BioBridge Global
  • Walter Downing, Executive VP/COO of Southwest Research Institute
  • Dr. Thomas Patterson, Chief of Infectious Disease, UT Health San Antonio
  • Dr. Doug Frantz, UTSA Center for Innovative Drug Discovery
  • Heather Hanson
Panelists for the Innovative Solutions Town Hall hosted by KSAT on April 15, 2020.
Panelists for the Innovative Solutions Town Hall hosted by KSAT on April 15, 2020. (KSAT)

*Scroll down to the end of the article to read the full bios of the panelists

The Virtual Town Hall event is a partnership between KSAT, The Texas Research & Technology Foundation, VelocityTX, and BioMedSA.

Viewers can submit questions through the prompt at the end of this article and then watch Wednesday starting at 6:30 p.m. to potentially see the answer.

Find more answers on our SAQ page and submit your questions for the mayor here and your questions for local bioscience experts through the prompt below:

Panelists’ Bios:

  • Dr. Larry Schlesinger, President/CEO of Texas Biomedical Research Institute
    • Larry S. Schlesinger, MD is an internationally recognized authority in infectious diseases. He began his distinguished scientific leadership career after joining the faculty at the University of Iowa in 1991 where he served as Fellowship Director for the Division of Infectious Diseases and Associate Chair of the Department of Medicine. He moved to the Ohio State University in 2002 where he served as Director of the Division of Infectious Diseases, Department of Internal Medicine until 2011, when he became first chair of Microbial Infection & Immunity. During his tenure he founded the Center for Microbial Interface Biology, a Board of Trustees approved universitywide center with a focus on infectious diseases of concern to public health (now Infectious Disease Research Institute). Dr. Schlesinger grew the program from infancy to more than 180 faculty and staff with more than $62 million in grant funding. In 2017 he became President and CEO of Texas Biomedical Research Institute in San Antonio, TX and is leading a transformational change process. Dr. Schlesinger is a practicing scientist who has trained more than 170 individuals just in his research lab. His passion lies in the development of people and programs that will have revolutionary impact on human health for years to come. He is known for his effective leadership style, development of innovative programs and the concept of team science. Dr. Schlesinger earned a BA in Biology from Cornell University and MD from Rutgers Medical School. He completed his residency in Internal Medicine at the University of Michigan and clinical and research fellowships in Infectious Diseases at UCLA. He is a leading physician scientist whose studies focus on the pathogenesis of tuberculosis and other airborne infectious agents that subvert lung immune mechanisms. His discoveries have led to greater insight into the unique attributes that soluble and cellular components of the innate immune system of humans bring to the microbe-host interface, translating them into drug discovery platforms. He has been continually funded for 30 years by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and other federal agencies as well as private foundations such as the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. He is a recent NIH NIAID Council member, Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, Infectious Diseases Society of America, Association of American Physicians and American Academy of Microbiology.
  • Rachel Beddard, MD, Chief Medical Officer of BioBridge Global
    • Dr. Beddard joined South Texas Blood & Tissue Center as the VP, Medical Affairs on August 2007. Prior to joining our organization, she worked for Johns Hopkins University as an Immunology Laboratory Research Associate, Tidewater Blood Research Laboratory, as the Medical Director, and Texas Cord Blood Bank, as the Medical Director. Dr. Beddard received her undergraduate degree from the University of Virginia and her graduate degree from Eastern Virginia Medical School. She has licensures from Virginia, Texas, Georgia, and New York. She is also board certified in Clinical Pathology and Transfusion Medicine.
  • Walter Downing, Executive VP/COO of Southwest Research Institute
    • Walt Downing is the Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of Southwest Research Institute (SwRI®) in San Antonio, Texas. SwRI is an independent, not-for-profit organization conducting contract research in the physical sciences and developing innovative technologies for the betterment of humanity. SwRI pushes the boundaries of science and technology in applications ranging from deep sea to deep space to develop innovative solutions that advance the state of the art and improve human health and safety. Walt graduated from Southern Methodist University with a BSEE and the University of Texas at San Antonio with an MBA. He is a registered professional engineer in the states of Texas and Florida. He and his wife, Sharon, are native San Antonians and they have three children and three grandchildren living in the Greater San Antonio Area.
  • Dr. Thomas Patterson, Chief of Infectious Disease, UT Health San Antonio
    • Dr. Thomas F. Patterson received his Bachelor of Arts degree from Baylor University, in Waco, Texas and his medical degree from the University of Texas Medical School at Houston, Texas. He completed his internship and residency at Vanderbilt University Medical School, in Nashville, Tennessee and at Yale-New Haven Hospital, and a fellowship in infectious diseases at Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, Connecticut where he also served as an Assistant Professor of Medicine. Dr Patterson currently is a Professor of Medicine and Chief, Division of Infectious Diseases at the University of Texas Health Science Center in San Antonio, Texas. He is also Director of the San Antonio Center for Medical Mycology. He has extensive experience in opportunistic fungal infections. His clinical and research interests focus on the diagnosis and treatment of fungal diseases, particularly in immunocompromised hosts. He has been involved in developing new antifungal drugs and in clinical trials of new antifungal compounds. Dr Patterson has published and lectured extensively on fungal infections. He is a past member of the ICAAC and IDSA Program Committees and is Editor-in-Chief of the popular mycology website www.doctorfungus.org. He is a member of the American Board of Internal Medicine, Subspecialty Committee for Infectious Diseases. He is a Fellow of the American College of Physicians and Past-President of the Texas Infectious Disease Society.
  • Dr. Doug Frantz, UTSA Center for Innovative Drug Discovery
    • Doug Frantz is a professor of chemistry at The University of Texas at San Antonio. After receiving his Ph.D. in organic chemistry at Texas A&M University in College Station, TX, he moved on to do a post-doctoral fellowship with Dr. Erick Carreira at the ETH Zürich in Zürich, Switzerland where he discovered and developed several new chemical reactions for reducing the costs associated with the manufacturing of new drugs. From 2000 to 2005, Frantz worked in the Department of Process Research at Merck, developing practical and efficient ways to synthesize drug candidates. He initially worked at the Merck site in Rahway, N.J, but in 2001 moved to the new Wayne, Pa. site where he continued to work in the area of pre-clinical drug development and process chemistry. Frantz returned to Texas in 2005 to pursue a career in academia, and he joined the faculty in the Department of Biochemistry at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas as a research assistant professor and director of the Synthetic Chemistry Core Facility. In 2009, he was recruited to UTSA and co-founded the Center for Innovative Drug Discovery (CIDD) which has become one of the premier academic drug discovery centers in the country. Dr. Frantz has received a number of awards including UTSA President’s Distinguished Research Award in 2011, Eli Lilly’s Collaborator of the Year Award in 2014, and the Thieme Journal Award in 2017. He has published numerous peer-reviewed publications in therapeutic areas such as infectious diseases, cancer, diabetes, chronic pain, heart disease and neurodegeneration. He is listed as a co-inventor on 6 US Patents and has given over 50 lectures including a TedX Talk in 2013. In 2010, Frantz was named the Max and Minnie Tomerlin Voelcker Fund 2010 Young Investigator, and in 2014 he was named the Max and Minnie Tomerlin Voelcker Distinguished Professor in Chemistry. Frantz’s research at UTSA centers on the discovery and development of new treatments in a broad range of therapeutic areas including diabetes, chronic pain, cancer, and neurodegeneration. He has ongoing collaborations with two large pharmaceutical companies, Eli Lilly and Bristol-Myers Squibb, that have already led to the discovery of several preclinical drug candidates.
  • Heather Hanson
    • Heather Hanson is a proven, successful senior-level executive, known for improving organizational performance and shareholder value through planning, analysis, problem-solving, program development and servant leadership. She leverages her extensive experience in multiple aspects of the biomedical industry to serve the members of BioMed SA and the San Antonio biomedical industry at large. The healthcare and bioscience industry is responsible for 20% of the economy in San Antonio, which translates to $40 billion each year. BioMed SA seeks to increase the impact through collaboration, advocacy, and programming. Ms. Hanson has worked at the ground level and managed others to accomplish all aspects of medical device development, including: research, design, quality, regulatory, manufacturing, field service, clinical trials and supply chain. As an engineer, she has designed products and equipment resulting in 24 U.S. patents for a variety of medical technologies. As an executive, she has led companies to improve their operational performance, establish efficient processes, raise capital, while motivating peers and employees to achieve positive results. Ms. Hanson has also founded a successful consulting company, Corvax Solutions, to assist companies and entrepreneurs in the development of medical devices. Additionally, she has worked directly for Southwest Research Institute, Motorola and Seno Medical, and worked with a multitude of medical device companies and research institutions as a consultant. Ms. Hanson holds a BSE in Mechanical Engineering from Arizona State University and a MS in Mechanical Engineering from North Carolina State University. She and her family have called San Antonio home for over 20 years. Ms. Hanson enjoys playing soccer and assisting tomorrow’s leaders as Cub Master and Committee Member of two units in the Boy Scouts of America.

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