Rebeca Rico-Hesse, Ph.D., a scientist at the Southwest Foundation for Biomedical Research (SFBR), this month will be recognized by the Instituto Cultural de México for her contributions to virology.
Rico-Hesse is one of three women from Mexico recognized in celebration of the Centennial of the Mexican Revolution and the Bicentennial of Mexico’s Independence, and the acknowledgement of International Women’s Month. The others are fashion designer Verónica Prida and artist Carla Veliz.
Born in Los Angeles, Calif., in 1955, to a German/American artist mother and Mexican orthopedic surgeon father, Rebeca Rico-Hesse was raised in Saltillo, Coahuila, Mexico. She decided to become a virologist at an early age after seeing the tremendous impact of viral diseases on the population of domestic animals in northern Mexico, including her family pets.
Rico-Hesse obtained scholarships to study microbiology at the University of Nebraska, virology at Cornell University, epidemiology at the University of Minnesota, and post-doctoral training at the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta. The Rockefeller Foundation funded her position as Assistant Professor at Yale University, and her subsequent research funding has come from the National Institutes of Health. She joined the Southwest Foundation for Biomedical Research, in San Antonio, as a scientist, in 1996. She has received many awards and recognitions for her research and publications.
Currently, Rico-Hesse’s research is focused on dengue fever, a viral disease contracted by mosquito bite. During the last couple of centuries, the United States has suffered periodic outbreaks of dengue. There have been several recent outbreaks in South Texas. San Antonio is a port of entry into the rest of the United States because the climate allows for the type of mosquito that carries and transmits the disease. In its mild form, dengue causes what’s called break-bone fever, with severe flu-like symptoms. But the severe, lethal form, dengue hemorrhagic fever, has increased steadily during the last decade, spreading to over 100 countries around the world.
She is an art collector and patron involved with San Antonio’s art community.
SFBR is one of the world’s leading independent biomedical research institutions dedicated to advancing health worldwide through innovative biomedical research. Located on a 200-acre campus on the northwest side of San Antonio, Texas, SFBR partners with hundreds of researchers and institutions around the world, targeting advances in the fight against cardiovascular disease, diabetes, obesity, cancer, psychiatric disorders, problems of pregnancy, AIDS, hepatitis, malaria, parasitic infections and a host of other infectious diseases. For more information on SFBR, go to www.sfbr.org, or call Joe Carey, SFBR’s Vice President for Public Affairs, at 210-258-9437.