Agrawal: S.A. needs biomedical niche

San Antonio needs to create a niche for itself within the biomedical industry that the city can become known for both nationally and internationally, according to Mauli Agrawal, dean of the University of Texas at San Antonio College of Engineering.

“I don’t want to offend anybody, but even though we have the largest biomedical industry, if you step outside of San Antonio and say what is San Antonio known for, it’s hard to say,” Agrawal said.

Agrawal spoke at the San Antonio chapter of the Healthcare Businesswomen’s Association’s fourth annual state of the industry event Tuesday evening at the Omni San Antonio Hotel at the Colonnade.

 “For us, the trump card is the presence of the military in town,” he added. “What they do best here is treat trauma. So my personal opinion is we need to create trauma treatment and trauma research as the niche for San Antonio.”

George B. Hernández Jr., president and CEO of University Health System and another panelist at the HBA event, said San Antonio is poised to do what Agrawal suggested.

San Antonio already has two Level 1 trauma centers, he noted. They are San Antonio Military Medical Center, formerly Brooke Army Medical Center, and University Hospital.

Construction is underway on a 10-story trauma tower that will be adjacent to the University Hospital in the Medical Center. That is scheduled to open in 2014, Hernández said.

“This is a wonderful opportunity to do exactly what Mauli said,” Hernández said.

Other panelists at the HBA event were: Janet Campbell, chairman and CEO of Seno Medical Instruments Inc.; Col. Mary Garr, chief operating officer for the San Antonio Military Health System; and Dr. Gary Piefer, chief medical officer of WellMed Medical Management.

— Patrick Danner

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