John Sealy School of Medicine Alumni Awards

2024 Ashbel Smith Distinguished Alumni (ASDA) Awardees and Legacy Awardees.

Dr. Richard Helmer, 2024 ASDA Recipient

Richard E. Helmer III, MD, FACP

2024 Ashbel Smith Distinguished Alumni (ASDA) Award Recipient

This is the highest alumni honor bestowed to a medical school graduate by the university's John Sealy School of Medicine Alumni Association. This award, recognizing outstanding service to the medical profession and to humanity, honors the memory of Dr. Ashbel Smith. A prominent figure in Texas medicine, politics and education, Dr. Smith was considered the driving force behind establishing the University of Texas at Austin in 1881, and a medical department that would later be known as the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston in 1891.

About Dr. Helmer

Dr. Richard Helmer is a fifth-generation Texan with a BA in Zoology from the University of Texas, where he graduated in
1967. During his time at UT, he was a member of Sigma Nu Fraternity and was elected to the Student Assembly and the
Silver Spurs Service Organization. He continued his education at UTMB, where he obtained his degree in Medicine in 1971 and was a member of Alpha Kappa Kappa.

His postgraduate training in Internal Medicine at UTMB was under the guidance of Dr. William P. Deiss, Jr. During
his final year of residency, he served as a junior Fellow on the Medical Oncology Service. In 1974, he was called to
active duty as a General Internist at the US Army Hospital in Okinawa, Japan, and later transferred to Brooke Army
Medical Center (BAMC) as the Assistant Chief of the General Medicine Service in 1975.

At BAMC, Major Helmer held academic positions as a Clinical Assistant Professor in the School of Nursing and as Clinical
Instructor in the Department of Medicine at UT Health Science Center, San Antonio. Along with Major Mackey Watkins
(UTMB 1972), he served as the In-Patient Attending Physician for the General Medicine teaching service.

In 1977, he returned to UTMB for his Hematology-Medical Oncology Fellowship under Dr. Frank H. Gardner. Dr. Helmer
is a diplomat of the American Board of Internal Medicine (Hematology and Internal Medicine) and has authored or
co-authored numerous papers in national and international medical publications.

In 1979, he returned to Austin and joined private practice with the Capital Medical Clinic. The CMC Hematology-Medical Oncology service later merged with Central Texas Oncology, forming The Southwest Regional Cancer Center.
He served on both the CMC and SWRCC Executive Committees and as Vice President of SWRCC. SWRCC later merged with Texas Oncology, and he practiced at the Midtown Office until his retirement in 2021, completing fifty
years and one week after starting his UTMB Internship.

Dr. Helmer is involved in various professional organizations, including the Deiss Society, the Sealy Society, the Department of Internal Medicine Alumni Association, American College of Physicians, The American Society of Hematology, The American Society of Clinical Oncology, The European Hematology Association, the European Society of Medical Oncology, and the Christian Medical and Dental Society. He also served three terms as President of the Texas Society of Medical Oncology and was a member of the ASCO Clinical Practice Committee.

Post-retirement, Dr. Helmer and his wife, Angela Helmer, PhD, divide their time between their homes in Austin, the Texas hill country, and Ruidoso, New Mexico. Dr. Helmer has three children: Dr. Richard IV (UTMB 2000), a Cardiothoracic surgeon in Waco; Kevin B., a Senior Ethics and Compliance Coordinator for Texas A&M AgriLife in College Station; and Alissa Chrisman, a mother and Speech Pathologist in Austin. The Helmers also have five grandchildren: Rich, Elizabeth, Katherine, Grady, and Barrett. Dr. Helmer remains active in supporting UTMB, being a member of the UTMB Development Board and a founding member of the UTMB President’s Cabinet. He is also affiliated with various medical societies and serves on the John Sealy School of Medicine Alumni Association Board of Trustees as president-elect and is a lifetime member.

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