According to a recent article in the San Antonio Business Journal, the Texas Biomedical Research Institute’s senior administrator and leading scientist Dr. John VandeBerg will retire in June after more than thirty years with the organization.
Having arrived at Texas Biomed in 1980 to launch its Department of Genetics, Dr. VandeBerg went on to help lead the organization to becoming the powerful force in genetic research and vaccine development that it is known for today. Today, the Genetics department boasts fourteen faculty members with a 92-person support staff.
Texas Biomed’s Department of Genetics remained at the center of the organization’s key accomplishments. One of the most widely read news articles on BioNews Texas is a report on Texas Biomed’s work on a Hepatitis B cure. The organization’s achievement’s in developing this cure came directly as a result of Dr. VandeBerg’s persistent work in establishing a human chimpanzee research center — a project that Texas Biomed President Kenneth P. Trevett says was not easy for VandeBerg to traverse: “Dr. VandeBerg overcame significant resistance and financial challenges to receive designation for the institution’s primate facility as a National Primate Research Center in 1999, and he has served as its director since that time. The establishment of the Primate Center not only added to the reputation of our organization, but provided significant new funding for the programs and facilities.”
To date, the Texas Biomed chimpanzee research facility remains the only one of its kind doing independent research in the United States. Back in June of 2013, when the the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) moved to designate all research chimpanzees as officially endangered species, BioNews Texas conducted an exclusive interview with Dr. VandeBerg, wherein he articulated a compelling case for the use of research chimpanzees to benefit the health of wild chimpanzees and humans alike, citing that Texas Biomed’s Hepatitis B achievements could have never been realized without chimpanzee-based testing. This interview was the only one of its kind in the media to give VandeBerg the opportunity to make his case in the debate over the use of research chimpanzees in scientific research.
Dr. VandeBerg recently reflected on his decision to finally retire in his role as Chief Scientific Officer: “There is a time for everything, and now is the time I have selected to step back from my day-to-day duties as chief scientific officer, director of the Primate Center and scientist. “The past 34 years have been extraordinary for me and for this institution. I am sincerely grateful for the opportunity to pursue my vision of a world-class research organization that provides its scientists with a unique combination of resources to do their work.”