By Rosanna Ruiz
Throughout his life, Harold T. Sanders cherished education and hard work. He nurtured those values in his son, Dr. Paul Sanders of Dallas.
As a tribute to his father, Sanders recently established the Harold T. Sanders Endowed Fellowship in Vaccine Development at UTMB. In addition to a new, state-of-the-art hospital, the creation of scholarships and fellowships also are key goals for UTMB’s $450 million Working Wonders Campaign.
“My father had a lifelong interest in education and promoted that every way he could,” said Sanders, a 1973 UTMB alumnus who practices internal medicine in Dallas. “I established this fellowship in his honor because of his interest in education and to promote medical research and education.”
Harold T. Sanders, of Tyler, Texas, died in 1993 of cancer. He was 79.
Dr. David L. Callender, UTMB’s president, praised Dr. Sanders for his generosity and foresight.
“UTMB continues to do important work aimed at improving health and health care in the years ahead, and because of the kindness of our friends and alumni like Dr. Sanders we are closer to our vision,” Callender said. “The Sanders Fellowship in Vaccine Development will advance our promising research aimed at treating and preventing acute and chronic diseases with vaccines.”
The Sealy Center for Vaccine Development is the largest university-based vaccine development effort in the country. The men and women trained at UTMB as Sanders Fellows in Vaccine Development will take their places among the world’s leading vaccinologists.
The fellowship, Callender added, will be a fitting legacy.
After he served in the Air Force during World War II, Harold Thayer Sanders found success as a rose nurseryman in Tyler with his first business endeavor, Sanders Nursery Company. During the early 1900s, the rose industry became a lucrative enterprise in Smith County, and by the 1940s more than half the U.S. supply of rose bushes was grown within 10 miles of Tyler.
Harold T. Sanders was a self-taught success who took only a few business courses. The harsh lessons of his teen-age years during the Great Depression always motivated him. He made sure his son received an advanced education.
“He grew up in difficult times and he spent his entire life making sure things were secure financially,” Sanders said of his father. “He did accomplish that.”
Sanders earned his undergraduate degree in biology from what was then known as North Texas State University. He went on to UTMB, where his father often visited him and once met Dr. Truman Blocker, the university’s first president.
His father developed a bond with UTMB. “He really loved UTMB and was impressed with the school and everything going on there,” Sanders said.
After medical school, Sanders completed a fellowship in clinical immunology at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. His interest in immunology inspired him to study vaccine medicine and vaccines to prevent disease during international travel. He now devotes some of his practice to travel medicine. Sanders provides immunizations and other medical services to recreational travelers and businesses whose employees must travel abroad.
The Sanders fellowship not only honors his father, it also builds on Sanders’ appreciation for the untold possibilities rooted in vaccine research.
“This area of research could change medicine in a profound way and make a real difference in cost, effectiveness and comfort for millions of people,” he said. “The potential is limitless.”