AUSTIN Last week, The University of Texas-Rio Grande Valley announced the creation of the South Texas Diabetes & Obesity Institute, a new research, clinical and education program.

Created during the 83rd session, UT-RGV will bring a Tier One research university with a state-of-the art medical school to the valley. Representative Ryan Guillen, who co-authored the bill and sponsored the creation of UT-RGV, is encouraged by progress that the university is already making.

"UT-RGV is a vital piece in continuing the successes of South Texas." said Rep. Guillen. "With the creation of the South Texas Diabetes & Obesity Institute, UT-RGV will become the centerpiece in the fight against diabetes and obesity as well as offer an outstanding choice for students who want to pursue a career in medicine.

Diabetes is the seventh leading cause of death in the United States, and about 30 percent of South Texans have the disease. The South Texas Diabetes & Obesity Institute will work to develop better treatments and preventative measures to improve the health of those who suffer from diabetes and obesity.

UT-RGV also announced that renowned genetics and infectious diseases expert Sarah Williams-Blangero, Ph.D., has been appointed the new director of the South Texas Diabetes & Obesity Institute. Dr. Williams-Blangero will also be joined by a team of 21 researchers whose work spans across many countries and across all fields of medicine and medical research.