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Clay Johnston speaking at the Dell Medical School groundbreaking

By Jamey Smith

With preparations for Dell Medical School moving full steam ahead — ground was officially broken in April — it’s worth remembering that the medical realm is hardly new territory for The University of Texas at Austin.

The university is already deeply invested in health-related teaching, offering nationally ranked programs and 24 majors related to health sciences. On the research side, Forty Acres scientists received more than 70 medical-device patents in the past three years, and in 2012 the National Institutes of Health steered nearly $57 million to UT, the most for any university without a medical school.

Scientists at UT’s Dell Pediatric Research Institute collaborate with Dell Children’s Medical Center physicians to research cancer, nutrition, and neurodevelopmental disorders. Other interdisciplinary programs on campus include the Center for Infectious Disease, the Institute for Neuroscience, and the Waggoner Center for Alcohol and Addiction Research.

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Meanwhile, the School of Nursing’s two wellness centers provide thousands of primary health care visits to low-income, uninsured Central Texans, while pharmacy, nursing, and social work students hone their skills performing free health assessments through a College of Pharmacy program called Project Collaborate.

That solid foundation in health education and research will serve UT well, says Dr. Clay Johnston, Dell Medical’s founding dean, “from the research lab to the bedside and then out into the community.” At the same time, he notes, as the first tier-one university to open a medical school in 35 years, UT has the opportunity to shake things up.

“The current antiquated models of health care are failing us,” Johnston says. “If we start from scratch, we can design a medical school that empowers doctors to embrace new technologies, work collaboratively, perform cutting-edge research — and, ultimately, better serve patients while driving down costs.”

Keep up with Dell Medical School news and ways to support the school at

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