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Celebrating Founders Day: Through the eyes of alumni, 1966-2016

Celebrating the past, creating the future, May 5, 2021

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The year UT Southwestern Medical Center was founded (1943), microbiologist Selman Waksman discovered streptomycin, the first antibiotic against tuberculosis, for which he later earned the Nobel Prize.

Since then, UT Southwestern faculty – currently numbering more than 2,800 ­– have received six Nobel Prizes for pioneering biomedical research, 25 are members of the National Academy of Sciences, 17 are members of the National Academy of Medicine, and 13 are Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigators, all helping to translate science-driven research quickly to new clinical treatments. On the clinical front, UT Southwestern physicians now provide care in about 80 specialties to more than 105,000 hospitalized patients and oversee approximately 3 million outpatient visits a year. As an educational institution, UT Southwestern encompasses more than 30 departments, more than 20 endowed centers for specialty research, and has conferred nearly 12,000 degrees from UT Southwestern Medical School, nearly 4,000 from the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences, and almost 6,000 from the School of Health Professions.

In photos: UT Southwestern in 1943

First campus, 1943

Modest buildings made up the first campus.

Medical students are lectured by Dr. George T. Caldwell.

First medical school graduation

Founding faculty members


The expanse of discovery covered throughout decades of research, UT Southwestern’s 78-year history of care provided to generations of people, and the generations of physician-scientists and health care professionals who have prepared the next generation of innovators and caregivers, are what we celebrate on Founders Day on May 5.

To honor the occasion, Nobel Laureate Dr. Joseph Goldstein, also a Regental Professor and Chair of Molecular Genetics, reminisced about his time as a student at UT Southwestern Medical School.

Black and white photo of man in suit
Nobel Laureate Dr. Joseph Goldstein appears in his yearbook photo during his first year of medical school in 1962.

“All of my mentors in medical school were outstanding clinicians and skilled in scientific research – a rare combination of talents that captured my imagination. Under their mentorship, I learned the ins and outs of human diseases and how understanding of disease pathophysiology is advanced by discoveries in basic biomedical science,” Dr. Goldstein said.

Decades later, UT Southwestern’s founding and growth continues to impact generations of health care leaders and the communities they serve. In honor of the first celebration of Founders Day, five outstanding UT Southwestern alumni are sharing memories of their time on campus and their passion for the future of science and medicine.

Catalina E. Garcia, M.D., Class of 1969

  • UT Southwestern’s first Latina graduate
  • Recipient, Latina Living Legend Award
  • Co-Founder, Texas Women’s Foundation

John T. Watson, Ph.D., Class of 1972

  • National Academy of Engineering member
  • Professor Emeritus in Bioengineering, University of California, San Diego
  • Founder, The William J. von Liebig Center for Entrepreneurism and Technology Advancement
  • Co-Founder, UT Arlington and UT Southwestern Joint Graduate Biomedical Engineering Program

Kim Orth, Ph.D., Class of 1993

  • Professor of Molecular Biology and Biochemistry, UT Southwestern
  • National Academy of Sciences member
  • Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator

Alecia Nero, M.D., Class of 2004

  • Associate Professor of Internal Medicine and Pediatrics, UT Southwestern
  • Sickle cell disease specialist
  • Transition Sickle Cell Program founder

Danika Franks, M.D., Class of 2006

Woman with dark hair and glasses, white sweater
Photo credit: Phariss Photos
  • Assistant Dean of Student Affairs and Assistant Professor, Medical Education at TCU and University of North Texas Health Science Center School of Medicine
  • Emergency medicine physician 

Michael Braitsch, PT, D.P.T, Class of 2016

Man in suit
  • Doctor of Physical Therapy, School of Health Professions
  • Founder/Director of Tribe Wellness LLC
  • Martin Luther King Jr. Scholarship recipient
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