For immediate release: August 1, 2007

GALVESTON, Texas - A Galveston couple has contributed $500,000 to establish an endowed faculty position in the University of Texas Medical Branch's Department of Radiation Oncology. The Irma Labardini Mendoza and Jesse Jesus Mendoza Chair in Radiation Oncology is the second endowed chair and fifth endowed faculty position created for the department and will support the work of the appointed faculty member to advance radiation therapy to treat breast and gynecologic cancer patients.

The Mendozas plan to make additional contributions to the chair to increase its endowment to the $1 million distinguished chair level.

Irma and Jesse Mendoza come from humble beginnings, having saved much of the family's income that Jesse made as a barber. The couple invested some of that savings in real estate and eventually profited from their venture. Now retired, Irma and Jesse have spent their time together, traveling around the world or playing golf.

Dr. Sandra "Sunny" Hatch, who has been Irma Mendoza's physician for nearly 10 years, is being nominated as the first holder of the Mendoza Chair, pending approval by the UT System Board of Regents. Hatch is vice chair of the Department of Radiation Oncology and director of clinical operations. She also directs the residency training program in radiation oncology and UTMB's Multidisciplinary Breast Cancer Program. Hatch, who currently holds the Ruth Levy Kempner Professorship in Radiation Oncology at the university, is a past recipient of the Association of Residents in Radiation Oncology Teacher of the Year Award.

"I am honored to have my name associated with Mr. and Mrs. Mendoza," Hatch said. "We share the fundamental commitment to the concept of patient-focused care. The endowment will allow our work at UTMB to continue to bring hope, health and healing to the breast and gynecologic cancer patients that we serve."

Dr. Martin Colman, professor and chairman of the Department of Radiation Oncology, said the Mendozas' generous contribution to the department will have a significant effect in improving women's health. "We're fortunate to have benefactors like the Mendozas to help us improve our resources and capabilities in the treatment of breast cancer, the most common malignant tumor in women," said Colman, holder of the John Sealy Distinguished Centennial Chair in Radiation Oncology. "They're expanding the department's research and clinical care capacity to provide crucial health services."

Dr. Garland D. Anderson, dean of the UTMB School of Medicine and a career-long advocate for women's health, said the Mendozas' support is particularly inspiring because it supports faculty. "I am grateful to the Mendozas for their very thoughtful gift, and I am particularly pleased that Mrs. Mendoza has experienced first-hand Dr. Hatch's extraordinary dedication and expertise. On the behalf of our faculty, and the patients and students who will benefit from this gift, I am extremely grateful."

The University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston

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