Public Release: 

Francisco G. Cigarroa, M.D., to receive BioMed SA 2014 Julio Palmaz Award

University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio


IMAGE: Francisco G. Cigarroa, M.D., is chancellor of The University of Texas System and served as president of The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio from 2000 to... view more

Credit: The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio

SAN ANTONIO (Sept. 9, 2014) -- BioMed SA, the non-profit corporation focused on growing and promoting San Antonio's thriving healthcare and bioscience sector, will award its ninth annual Julio Palmaz Award for Innovation in Healthcare and the Biosciences to Francisco G. Cigarroa, M.D.

The award, named after Palmaz® Stent inventor Julio Palmaz, M.D., honors individuals who have made significant contributions to advance the healthcare and bioscience fields. Cigarroa will accept the award at BioMed SA's annual Palmaz Award dinner to be held in San Antonio on Thursday, Sept. 18, 2014, at The Vistas at Valero.

Palmaz Award honorees

Previous recipients of the Palmaz Award include world-renowned engineer, medical inventor, and entrepreneur, Robert S. Langer, Sc.D. of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, (2013); Larry Miller, M.D., founder & chief medical officer of Vidacare Corporation (2012); Leroy Hood, MD, Ph.D, president and co-founder, Institute for Systems Biology, Seattle, Washington (2011); C. Mauli Agrawal, Ph.D., dean of engineering at The University of Texas at San Antonio (2010); internationally acclaimed inventor Dean Kamen of DEKA Research & Development Corp. in New Hampshire (2009); Karen Davis, Ph.D, president of The Commonwealth Fund in New York (2007); and San Antonio pediatric surgeons Drs. Robert Campbell, Melvin Smith (deceased) and Kaye Wilkins from The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio and CHRISTUS Santa Rosa Children's Hospital (2008).

A champion for patient care and education

Dr. Cigarroa was nominated for the award by William L. Henrich, MD, MACP, president of The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, who noted that Dr. Cigarroa's contributions included advancing patient care in the region, influencing public policy through leadership, championing the training of medical students in their home region, building support among health care entities and legislative delegations, and articulating the economic advantages a medical school will bring to the Rio Grande Valley.

"Dr. Francisco Cigarroa is a nationally renowned pediatric transplant surgeon who, despite the rigors of his positions, first as president of our Health Science Center and then as UT System chancellor, has continued to perform liver and kidney transplant surgeries," said Dr. Henrich.

Saving one life at a time

In February of this year, Dr. Cigarroa announced plans to step down as chancellor of The University of Texas System to return to pediatric transplantation surgery at the Health Science Center in San Antonio, where he says that he will "return to saving one life at a time."

"The selection of Dr. Cigarroa as this year's Palmaz Award winner brings honor not only to the recipient, but to BioMed SA and the San Antonio community," said BioMed SA Chair Kenneth P. Trevett.

Visionary leadership

One of Dr. Cigarroa's most notable accomplishments has been his visionary leadership and unwavering commitment over the past 14 years to developing a school of medicine for the state's most medically underserved region, the Lower Rio Grande Valley.

President Henrich said, "The ground that Dr. Cigarroa has broken - both figuratively and literally - to establish a new university and medical school in the Rio Grande Valley, I predict, will stand as one of his outstanding legacies and will be seen as a game changer for education, student access and economic growth for South Texas."

Dr. Cigarroa's innovations include:

  • As a surgeon, Dr. Cigarroa led a surgical team that performed the region's first successful small bowel transplant in a child.

  • As president of the UT Health Science Center at San Antonio from 2000 to 2009, Dr. Cigarroa strategically leveraged faculty and staff resources of the university to establish a Regional Academic Health Center (RAHC) in the Valley, a recognized model of expanding medical education into a geographically remote region.

  • Dr. Cigarroa spearheaded a new era in translational science with a landmark, 190,000 square foot research facility for the South Texas Medical Center.

  • Dr. Cigarroa also helped create the Center for Medical Humanities and Ethics to encourage Health Science Center students to approach their work with compassion and empathy.

As chancellor of the UT System, among his many other accomplishments, Dr. Cigarroa has helped bring to fruition new medical schools for both the Rio Grande Valley and Austin.

'A special milestone'

"I am so honored to receive the Julio Palmaz Award, named for one of the region's greatest medical innovators," Dr. Cigarroa said. "It is a special milestone in a career during which I have been privileged to work with countless exceptional professionals. Together, we have been able to improve many lives through the creation of new and transformational initiatives."


About Francisco G. Cigarroa, M.D.

A third-generation physician, Dr. Cigarroa has advanced both the art and science of medicine in the South Texas region. He began by saving one child's life at a time as a pediatric transplant surgeon and proceeded to make many lives better as a higher education leader. He served nine years as president of The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio before becoming chancellor of the UT System in Austin for the past five years.

A recent article about Dr. Cigarroa can be accessed here.

Dr. Cigarroa's bio can be accessed here.

Palmaz Award dinner information

Reservation deadline for the Palmaz Award dinner is September 12, 2014. Call 229-2118 to make reservations or email Donna Miller at

About BioMed SA

BioMed SA is a non-profit, membership-based organization, supported in part by the City of San Antonio. Its mission is to accelerate growth of San Antonio's biomedical sector, create regional economic benefit, and contribute to the health of San Antonio and beyond by establishing San Antonio as a leader in healthcare and bioscience. The city's healthcare and bioscience industry has added approximately 40,000 net new jobs over the past decade, significantly fueling San Antonio's growth and employing more than one out of every six members of the city's workforce. As America's seventh largest city, San Antonio is a community that embraces science and medicine. Its vibrant health care and bioscience industry, a dominant force in the city's economy with an annual economic impact exceeding $29 billion, combines unique assets and a diversity of resources with a collaborative spirit that is making a global impact on science and health. For more information, visit

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