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DHR Health proposes to state lawmakers a “Research Facility on Hispanic Health” – to be built in the Rio Grande Valley – that would improve healthcare for Texas’ largest population group and generate a stronger Texas economy - Titans of the Texas Legislature

FEATURED, FROM LEFT: Dr. Manish Singh, MBBS, MS, MD, FACS, FASMBS, Chief Executive Officer, DHR Health; and Nima Bhojania and her husband, Rep. Salman Bhojani, D-Euless. This image was taken on Saturday, January 28, 2023 as part of a tour by state legislators at DHR Health Brownsville.

Photograph Courtesy DHR HEALTH FACEBOOK


DHR Health proposes to state lawmakers a “Research Facility on Hispanic Health” – to be built in the Rio Grande Valley – that would improve healthcare for Texas’ largest population group and generate a stronger Texas economy

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DHR Health leaders have proposed to state lawmakers the creation of a state-of-the-art medical research facility in the Rio Grande Valley that would dramatically help come up with new and better healthcare for Hispanics throughout Texas.

In doing so, the appropriately-named Research Facility on Hispanic Health would go a long way in generating a stronger economy for the state’s southmost border metropolitan region (Hidalgo, Cameron, Starr and Willacy counties), which would benefit all areas of Texas in more ways than one.

The U.S. government defines “Hispanic or Latino” as a person of Cuban, Mexican, Puerto Rican, South or Central American, or other Spanish culture or origin regardless of race.

In Texas, Hispanics suffer from a lack of equal opportunities compared with non-Hispanic whites in education, good-paying jobs, healthcare and other key socioeconomic categories.

Socioeconomic factors include occupation, education, income, wealth and where someone lives.

Texas’ vital interests in promoting and protecting healthcare for Hispanics is that Hispanics currently make up 50 percent or more of the state’s population, and will make up the largest star of the workforce by 2030.

The idea for the Research Facility on Hispanic Health was first and prominently promoted before a group of key state lawmakers who participated in a tour of DHR Health in Brownsville on Saturday, January 28, 2023.

Dr. Manish Singh, MBBS, MS, MD, FACS, FASMBS, Chief Executive Officer, DHR Health, was the main speaker during the Saturday, January 28, 2022 legislative gathering in Brownsville.

“This is an opportunity for ‘transformational impact,” Singh urged the state lawmakers. “Hispanics will comprise 50 percent or more of the Texas population and the largest share of the workforce by 2030,” Dr. Singh predicted, citing the most recent U.S. Census projections. “Hispanics suffer from higher incidence of chronic disease and are not well represented in medical research. Unless action is taken, the Texas economy will suffer in the future.”

Transformational impact is the process of changing the way that you do things in to order to have, or participate in an attempt at positive impact. Transactional impact is short term, while Transformational impact is long-term.

Medical research involves scientists and physicians at medical schools and teaching hospitals discovering new treatments and bringing them from the laboratory bench to the patient bedside. More than half of all research sponsored by the National Institutes of Health is conducted at medical schools and teaching hospitals. The advances and innovations that come from this research save lives and improve the quality of life for millions of patients.

Dr. Singh was joined at the event by fellow officials, including Roberto Haddad, Vice President, Counsel for Government Affairs and Policy, Doctors Hospital at Renaissance Health System.

A video of his presentation – produced by the Rio Grande Guardian, which was the first online newspaper to launch on the South Texas border, starting out in July, 2005 – is available at:

DHR Health was the original teaching hospital for the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley School of Medicine and encompasses a general acute hospital with the only dedicated women’s hospital south of San Antonio, a rehabilitation hospital, a behavioral hospital, more than 70 clinics Valley-wide, advanced cancer services, the only transplant program in the Rio Grande Valley – and as of September 8, 2021, the first 24/7 Designated Level One Trauma Center south of San Antonio.

Because Texas Hispanics are under-represented in medical research, they have different degrees of illness or health risks than non-Hispanic Whites (White Americans who are not of Hispanic or Latino ancestry), said Dr. Singh, who cited federal and state statistics about Hispanics, such as:

• 50 percent higher death rate from diabetes;
• Nearly twice as likely to die from chronic liver disease and Cirrhosis as non-Hispanic Whites;
• 28 percent less colorectal screening;
• 24 percent more poorly controlled high blood pressure; and
• 23 percent more obesity.

Estimated costs, funding sources, legislative strategies, or timetable for the Research Facility on Hispanic Health have not yet been publicly announced.

What is public knowledge, however, are the eight main resources that would be housed in the proposed 35,000 square foot structure, including:

• Phases I – IV Clinical Trials unit;
• Infusion Center;
• BioBank;
• Research Laboratory;
• NextGen Sequencing;
• Research Pharmacy;
• Research Radiologic Services; and
• Research Education Center

While Hispanics make up approximately 19 percent of the U.S. population, they only make up six to eight percent of clinical trial participants. Clinical trials help show if a new drug or treatment, or a new treatment combination, works better than what is now used.

“This means that Hispanics are left of out important discoveries, and the design of new drugs can result with undesirable consequences,” Dr. Singh explained. “For example, although widely prescribed as an anti-coagulant in order to reduce the risk of heart attack, the drugs Plavix (clopidogrel) has shown less effectiveness in Hispanic patients.”

DHR Health leaders’ vision for the research facility would “supercharge the Texas economy and establish Texas as the leader in innovative Hispanic medical research, based in the Rio Grande Valley, where 90 percent of the population is Hispanic, and the economy is ripe for the establishment of a health science ecosystem,” Dr. Singh further explained.

Such a health research institution has high value to society. It can provide important information about disease trends and risk factors, outcomes of treatment or public health interventions, functional abilities, patterns of care, and health care costs and use.

Together, these forms of health research have led to significant discoveries, the development of new therapies, and a remarkable improvement in health care and public health.

The proposal for the Research Facility on Hispanic Health has come to light soon after the publication of a Texas A&M University report, released in October 2022, that shows Hispanics are now the largest demographic group in Texas.

A demographic group may be defined as a part of a larger group of the general population,, and refers to the group’s age, gender, occupation, nationality, ethnic background, sexual orientation, etc. Individuals may belong to several demographic groups (e.g., an American who is a librarian; a computer engineer who is also a knitter).

Further explanations on what the eightmain resources of the Research Facility on Hispanic Health may involve, based on general descriptions of similar programs at other advanced research centers, follow:

Phases I – IV Clinical Trials unit

Clinical trials are studies to test new drugs, already approved drugs, devices, or other forms of treatments.

Many clinical trials look at new ways to detect, diagnose, or measure the extent of disease. Some even look at ways to prevent diseases from happening.

Researchers still use human volunteers to test these methods, and the same rules apply.

Doctors use clinical trials to learn whether a new drug, treatment, or combination works and is safe to use for people.

Clinical trials are important in developing new treatments for the most serious health concerns such as cancers, cardiovascular and circulatory diseases, digestive diseases, musculoskeletal disease, and infectious diseases before being approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Clinical trials can take years to complete. They can take months, if not years, to see if a treatment does what it is meant to do. Clinical trials show us what works (and what doesn’t) in medicine and health care.
They are the best way to learn what works in treating diseases.

Clinical trials are designed to answer some important questions:

Does the new treatment work in people? If it does, doctors will also look at how well it works.

Is it better than a treatment now being used? If it’s not better, is it as good and cause fewer side effects? Or does it work in some people who aren’t helped by current treatments?

Is the new treatment safe?

No treatment or procedure – even one already in common use – is without risk. But do the benefits of the new treatment outweigh the risks? Is this treatment better than the standard treatment given for this disease?

Clinical trials help show if a new drug or treatment, or a new treatment combination, works better than what is now used. Answering these questions, while giving as few people as possible an unknown treatment, often requires several clinical trials in different “phases.”

Each phase is designed to answer certain questions while keeping the people taking part as safe as possible. Results from these phases show if the new drug or treatment is reasonably safe and effective.

Infusion Center

Thanks to modern advancements in infusion therapy, patients with serious illnesses can be successfully treated intravenously (into the vein) or subcutaneously (under the skin).

When a patient’s condition is so severe that he or she cannot take oral medications or treatment of the disease requires an alternate approach, infusion therapy is a safe and effective way to treat many diseases.

An infusion center is an outpatient clinic that is certified to administer infusion therapy.

Ambulatory clinics are sometimes called outpatient clinics or ambulatory centers. They are medical facilities that perform procedures that do not require an overnight stay in a hospital or care facility. They may include preventive, diagnostic, or treatment services. For example, some minor surgeries are performed as outpatient procedures as are pain management, chemotherapy, wound care, physical therapies, and more. With the advancement of many medical technologies and techniques, more procedures can be safely performed on an outpatient basis than in the past.

These medical facilities have advanced equipment and competent staff who specialize in infusions.

Infusion therapy has traditionally been administered only in hospitals. Due to an emphasis on cost-containment in health care and developments in the clinical administration of the treatment, outpatient infusion centers are now more common.


What is a biobank? A biobank is a collection of biological samples (such as blood) and health information.

Biobanks can be large and hold thousands of samples, or they may be small and hold only a few hundred samples.

Different biobanks collect different types of samples and information. The types of information and samples collected depend on the specific purpose of the biobank.

For example, some biobanks are specific to a particular disease, such as cancer. Other biobanks are population based and contain samples and information from people in a specific population or region.

How does a biobank make performing research easier? The biobank serves as a library for researchers.

Therefore, the time and resources needed to recruit new participants for each research study is greatly reduced because samples and corresponding medical information are available in one place.

By making sample collection and patient recruitment more efficient, better studies can be performed in a more timely fashion.

Research Laboratory

Research laboratory means a facility for scientific research, including but not limited to pharmaceutical, chemical and biotechnology research, or the design, development and testing of electrical, electronic, magnetic, optical, computer or telecommunications components.

Laboratory research occurs in the lab, whether it be a biology or chemistry lab.

Laboratory research does not involve working on humans.

Clinical laboratory sciences, or medical laboratory sciences, involves the specialization in library information, services that deal with diagnosis, treatment, and monitoring of medical conditions. It involves performing tests, developing new laboratory processes and experiments, or the interpretation of results.

Laboratory research is typically carried out by professors at colleges, especially those that prioritize research. The aim of laboratory research is to help the doctors to better understand the causes of a particular disease and to analyze how well treatments that are currently being used work.

This knowledge can be fundamental in developing new therapies. Although lab research is quite different from clinical research, their role in medical science cannot be overstated, as they sometimes lay the foundation for major medical breakthroughs.

NextGen Sequencing

All of life is coded in it’s DNA. A remarkably simple code of four molecules that act as a blue print to define the proteins that we and all of the organisms we share our planet with are made of.

Reading this code is one of the most astonishing achievements that the human species has ever and will ever accomplish. Reading this code helps us to understand how we are made, how we are all related, how errors or mutations in our DNA cause disease and how we may respond best to medicines.

It holds the promise to revolutionize healthcare and has already begun to do so.

The first human genome “read” was competed in 2001. It took 10 years and the best part of $2.7 billion.

It was achieved by DNA sequencing. A method by which the sequence of the DNA is read painstakingly in small fragments and then reassembled to create a complete sequence.

Sanger Sequencing as it is known, was the method used to achieve the first publication of the first human genome.Next.

Generation Sequencing is a phrase used to describe a range of technologies that speed up and reduce the cost of DNA sequencing vs the traditional Sanger sequencing.

Research Pharmacy

A Research Pharmacy provides oversight and direction for use of investigational medications in the Clinical Research and Trials Units (CRTUs). The research pharmacy promotes patient safety, regulatory compliance and safe conduct of human research with protocols involving investigational drugs. They also provide expert consultation to investigators.

Additionally, dedicated research-trained pharmacists and pharmacy technicians share responsibility for facilitating investigational drug utilization and for providing the safest, most up-to-date care for patients participating in research studies.

Research Radiologic Services

Radiology research includes basic development of novel instruments and approaches for medical imaging, to translational research designed to move new methods from the bench to the bedside, to clinical trials to using validated methods to answer clinical and biologic questions.

Efforts encompass a wide range of modalities – MRI, PET, CT, ultrasound, and optical imaging – and scientific disciplines – instrumentation physics, chemistry for imaging probe development, and the computer science and applied mathematics for image analysis and informatics.

Work also includes a range of physiologic systems and disease process that include cancer, cardiovascular disease, musculoskeletal physiology, neuropsychiatric physiology and disorders, and pulmonary medicine.

Research Education Center

Medical education research aims to advance the knowledge, skills and professionalism of medical students by understanding and evaluating education ecosystems.

These ecosystems include policies related to admissions and curriculum, people who serve as teachers and mentors, instructional technology and other resources, the attitudes that pervade a given institution or educational experience, and even the students themselves.

Ultimately, research in medical education is conducted to:

• Address contemporary issues and questions in medical education;
• Design, evaluate, and support curricular innovations; and
• Assess and reform the culture underlying medical education.

About DHR Health

DHR Health was the original teaching hospital for the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley School of Medicine and encompasses a general acute hospital with the only dedicated women’s hospital south of San Antonio, a rehabilitation hospital, a behavioral hospital, more than 70 clinics Valley-wide, advanced cancer services, the only transplant program in the Rio Grande Valley – and as of September 8, 2021, the first 24/7 Designated Level One Trauma Center south of San Antonio.

A Level One Trauma Center is a hospital equipped and staffed to provide care for patients suffering from major traumatic injuries that result from falls, motor vehicle collisions, knife or gunshot wounds, or other catastrophes that threaten a person’s life or limbs.

On Tuesday, November 16, 2021, Driscoll Health System, in partnership with DHR Health, held a groundbreaking ceremony for Driscoll Children’s Hospital Rio Grande Valley, located at 2820 W. Michelangelo Drive in Edinburg, which is being built on the site of the DHR Health campus, next to DHR Health’s The Women’s Hospital at Renaissance.

The new, independently operated eight-level pediatric hospital will further the mission of Driscoll Children’s Hospital founder Clara Driscoll to provide medical care to all the children of South Texas. The building is expected to be completed later in 2023.

The Driscoll Children’s Hospital Rio Grande Valley represents a combined investment of more than $105 million. Driscoll Children’s Hospital Rio Grande Valley will operate with more than 500 employees, creating significant economic impact and new job opportunities for clinical, ancillary and support staff in the Valley.

Doctors Hospital at Renaissance, Ltd (“DHR”) and its general partner, RGV Med, Inc. (“RGV Med”) own and operate a 519 licensed bed general acute care hospital located at 5501 South McColl in Edinburg. The facility is one of the largest physician-owned facilities in the United States that began as an ambulatory surgery center in 1997.


For more on this and other Texas legislative news stories that affect the Rio Grande Valley metropolitan region, please log on to Titans of the Texas Legislature (

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