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Stem Cell Summit Seen Boosting Region's BioMedical Profile
December 5, 2014

By News Radio 1200 WOAI

Hundreds of top level stem cell researchers from all over the world have gathered in San Antonio for the World Stem Cell Summit, and that is music to the ears of Ann Stevens.

She heads BioMed SA, the group which is responsible for promoting the growth of the region's biomedical industry.

She tells News Radio 1200 WOAI's Stephanie Narvaez that one in six San Antonians works in the biomedical industry, which ranges from standard hospitals to research facilities like the Texas Biomedical Research Institute, to the thousands of medical and research personnel who staff the facilities at Ft. Sam Houston and other military installations.

But Stevens says San Antonio is still not known as a biomedical center of excellence, something she hopes this summit will help change.

"It's the largest industry in the city, and yet we are not really known for that nationally or internationally," Stevens said.

She says the local medical community has overcome one major hurdle. In the 1980s and 1990s, when people in San Antonio needed a major medical procedure, especially one involving children, they would inevitably travel to another city.

When Henry and Mary Alice Cisneros' son John Paul was born in 1987 suffering serious medical complications, his family took him to Children's Hospital of Philadelphia for treatment, something which was standard practice at the time.

But a report done for the San Antonio Chamber of Commerce released last month indicates that travel out of the city for medical purposes has all but ended, and 22% of the patients in San Antonio hospitals, and 25% of the pediatric patients who were treated last year, were from elsewhere in the United States and Latin America.

Stevens says the World Stem Cell Summit and all of the medical advances being discussed here will help take the local BioMed industry to the next level.

"We are the home of U.S. Military Medicine, they are the home of regenerative medicine, and to have their facilities in San Antonio is a huge advantage," she said.

Stevens says the goal now is to build on the awareness and prestige San Antonio has gained by hosting this summit.

"We believe that regenerative medicine is one of the great strengths and future potentials of the San Antonio industry," she said. "So bringing the summit here brings international thought leaders to the city, many of them for the first time."

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