Vice Provost Steven Leslie discusses new medical school at fundraising luncheon

Matthew Hart

Distinguished members of Austin’s medical community gathered with civic leaders Monday afternoon at the Four Seasons Hotel to discuss the upcoming Dell Medical School and the work of People’s Community Clinic at the “There’s No Such Thing as a Free Lunch” luncheon. 

Dr. Steven Leslie, executive vice president and provost of UT, was the keynote speaker of the event and is spearheading the development of UT’s new Dell Medical School.

Leslie said the Dell Medical School will be a community-engaged medical school reaching out to all areas of medicine, as well as a school for research and the expansion of biomedical engineering and neuroscience on campus.

“We will engage the process of new discovery and innovation with the medical school in areas that will launch it as a centerpiece for learning more about medicine and medical research,” Leslie said. “But also as an economic engine for the central Texas area.”

Leslie said the medical school will be at the forefront of computational science with Stampede, a supercomputer which is 20 times more powerful than Ranger, the most powerful supercomputer five years ago.

“When you deal with the complexities of the human body and brain, the computational capacity that you need is huge,” Leslie said. “It will help us in terms of new discoveries as we move forward and medical research areas.”

Leslie said the financial platforms are laid and the resources for the first buildings are well underway. A steering committee is being put together to manage the medical school and an inaugural dean will be in place before the end of the year. Leslie anticipates the first medical class to take place in 2016.

Evan Smith, CEO and editor-in-chief of The Texas Tribune, was master of ceremonies for the event and acknowledged the sponsors and notable officials attending the luncheon. Among those in attendance were Rep. Elliott Naishtat, D-Travis, and Mayor Lee Leffingwell.

Founded by volunteer nurses and doctors in 1970, the clinic works to deliver high-quality, affordable healthcare to 10,000 uninsured and underserved central Texans a year.

Smith said according to a recent report, 6.2 million Texans are without insurance.

“That is the highest number of citizens, raw number and percentage, of any of the 50 states,” Smith said. “PCC, of course, addresses that problem and so much more by providing care to those in need.”

Dr. Robert Sorin, director of reproductive health for the clinic, said their concern is delivering the greatest good to the greatest number of people when there is a finite amount of space that only a small number of providers can see to.

The luncheon raised more than $400,000 through donors and sponsors to support the mission of the People’s Community Clinic, more than the annual event has ever raised in the past.

Printed on Tuesday, April 2, 2013 as: Provost discusses medical school