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Pandemic spurs $800,000 donation to Texas Biomed from The Forum

Funds will be used for COVID-19 projects, pilot studies and K-12 outreach

Presenting a check to Texas Biomed
Whitney Schones and Karen Bryant, 2020 Forum Gala Co-chairs present check to Texas Biomed

San Antonio, Texas (July 9, 2020) – The Texas Biomedical Forum has supported the life-saving work of Texas Biomedical Research Institute (Texas Biomed) for 50 years. The Forum has funded innovative pilot studies from Ebola and HIV to understanding the genetics of heart disease. It also supports the Institute’s community relations and K-12 educational programming. This year, the local nonprofit celebrated its 50th anniversary and donated more than $800,000 to Texas Biomed – the largest donation the Forum has made in its 50-year history.

“We’re fortunate enough to have the Texas Biomedical Forum,” said Corbett Christie, VP of Development and Public Relations at Texas Biomed. “The Forum’scontributions have paved the way for our scientists to make groundbreaking discoveries. COVID-19 has put Texas Biomed in the spotlight, and with the Forum’s generosity, we’re able to further efforts the Institute’s mission to free the world from infectious diseases.”

As scientists race to find a vaccine to combat COVID-19, the San Antonio community has responded generously to both the Institute and through The Forum. To commemorate The Forum’s 50th anniversary, three $100,000 grant matches were made courtesy of the Gorman Family Foundation, The Mays Foundation and the Sullivan Family Foundation. These matches allowed The Forum to donate $400,000 toward Texas Biomed’s pilot studies. In addition, the Forum raised $330,000 toward the Institute’s COVID-19 projects with the remainder supporting education projects, including a $150,000 commitment from the Charles Butt Foundation.

The Forum is an all-volunteer organization, and this year’s board faced never-before-seen challenges with COVID-19. While the organization’s annual gala had to be cancelled, gala donors were given the choice of receiving a refund or allowing their contributions/sponsorships to stand. An overwhelming number agreed to let their contributions stand, enabling this historic gift to Texas Biomed.

“This historic gift was in no small part due to the heroic efforts of the entire Forum membership, our gala chairs and board, “said Amy Vogt Swaney, the 2019-2020 President of Texas Biomedical Forum. “Our gala chairs, Whitney Schones and Karen Bryant, as well as our grant chair Corinna Richter, provided selfless leadership in the face of adversity, and we are so proud of and grateful for their efforts.”

Encouraging Innovative Science

The pilot grant program at Texas Biomed provides funding opportunities to help jumpstart a study and assist in producing preliminary data, leading to larger and more robust research.

“These grants are sometimes known as ‘seed money’ because they are relatively small,” Swaney said. “However, the ideas they [grants] power can grow to become huge in their impact.”

Swaney says through-out the years the Forum’s fundraising efforts have raised approximately $3.2 million for pilot studies and resulted in more than $70 million in National Institutes of Health funding.

The Future is Through Education

The Forum aims to connect and inspire young minds to pursue the field of science in STEM and give students the necessary tools to become successful in their educational and career pursuits. The nonprofit hosts several events throughout the year in support of Texas Biomed’s outreach, including a Spring Lecture Luncheon. Additionally, the organization recognizes top high school science teachers at its annual Science Education Awards.

“This year we recognized teachers from Saint Mary’s Hall, Marshall High School and New Braunfels High School,” Swaney said.

Texas Biomed’s K-12 program includes student tours of the Texas Biomed campus sponsored by the Forum. In March, the campus was closed to visitors due to the pandemic. A virtual video tour of the campus was created to continue educating the public on the Institute’s groundbreaking research. In addition, the Institute is developing online curriculum to provide teachers in the fall with new bioscience activities and material.

The Forum is an integral part of Texas Biomed’s philanthropic and educational outreach in the community. This year’s commitment will help further COVID-19 studies, education and future scientific discovery.

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Texas Biomed is one of the world’s leading independent biomedical research institutions dedicated to eradicating infection and advancing health worldwide through innovative biomedical research. Texas Biomed partners with researchers and institutions around the world to develop vaccines and therapeutics against viral pathogens causing AIDS, hepatitis, hemorrhagic fever, tuberculosis and parasitic diseases responsible for malaria and schistosomiasis disease. The Institute has programs in host-pathogen interaction, disease intervention and prevention and population health to understand the links between infectious diseases and other diseases such as aging, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and obesity. For more information on Texas Biomed, go to www.TxBiomed.org.