The Texas Biomedical Forum Celebrates Fifty Years Of Triumphs


By Jake Gaines           Photography by Super Q Photography



THE SETTING: Over 50 years ago, Dottie Block, Tena Gorman, and Ruth Eileen Sullivan had the vision and creativity to launch Southwest Research Forum, today known as the Texas Biomedical Forum. The Forum extended their thanks to President & CEO of the Texas Biomedical Research Institute, Larry Schlesinger, M.D.,  its scientists, along with the past presidents, all who have paved the way for making the world a better place, one research project at a time. This year’s Forum President was Amy Swaney.


THE STYLE: The Forum’s activities actually began last November, when the Fall Lecture Luncheon, one of their educational outreaches to the community, took place. Then, the Past President’s Luncheon was held, and the 3rd annual Cheers for CHAIRity event followed in late February. At the beginning of March, pre-COVID-19, the Spring Lecture Luncheon hosted three panelists. Suzanne Dabbous, M.D. (Radiologist and Past Forum President), Jean Patterson, Ph.D. (Professor) and Angelica M. Olmo-Fontanez, M.S. (Graduate Student/Biomedical Researcher) who discussed the Routes of Success: From Early to Established Careers Women Discuss Pathways in STEM. To top off the year, the Charles Butt Foundation presented a check for $50,000 designated to the Forum’s K-12 grant program and generously agreed to do so for three consecutive years. The 50th Anniversary 2020 Forum Gala, chaired by Whitney Schones and Karen Bryant, with The Starry Night as its theme, was regrettably cancelled due to the virus. Table sponsors were asked to consider allowing the organization to donate their sponsorship dollars intended for the 2020 gala directly to COVID-19 research. Through their generosity, Texas Biomed received close to $325,000 for this urgently needed critical research. Cynthia Kirby will serve as the 2020-2021 Forum President.


THE PURPOSE: The purpose of the Texas Biomedical Forum is to support the Texas Biomedical Research Institute through community relations, volunteer services, and fundraising. Over the years, the Forum’s fundraising efforts have raised approximately $3.2 million to be used in pilot studies. These grants are sometimes known as “seed grants” because they are relatively small, but the ideas they power can grow to become immensely impactful. This funding has allowed researchers to apply for additional grant monies in excess of $75 million in subsequent awards for large-scale research projects, which equates to approximately twenty-three dollars in return for every dollar of Forum grants. In commemoration of their 50th year, the Forum is grateful to have received three $100,000 grant matches from the Gorman Family Foundation, the Mays Foundation, and the Sullivan Family Foundation. The generosity of these three donor matches has allowed the Forum to give a little over $400,000 to the scientists’ pilot studies this year, making a total of $800,000 in contributions to Texas Biomed in 2020.


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