Contribution part of $1.5 million commitment

FOR RELEASE: Dec. 21, 2006

GALVESTON, Texas — The Nelda C. and H.J. Lutcher Stark Foundation has contributed $500,000 to the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston to support ongoing educational and patient care programs at the foundation’s namesake diabetes center, located on the academic health center’s campus. This contribution is the final installment of a $1.5 million grant the foundation awarded in 2004 to benefit the Nelda C. and H.J. Lutcher Stark Diabetes Center.

Operating in UTMB’s Primary Care Pavilion, the 4,700-square-foot Stark Diabetes Center is one of only a few Southeast Texas facilities dedicated to offering educational programs and resources that help patients manage diabetes. This incurable disease prevents the body from producing or properly using insulin, the hormone needed to convert sugar, starches and other food into energy. While the cause of diabetes is still unknown, researchers have found that genetics and environmental factors, such as sedentary lifestyles and obesity, appear to play significant roles.

The American Diabetes Association reports that approximately 17 million people in the United States have diabetes, and according to the Texas Diabetes Council, an estimated 1.2 million adults in the state have been diagnosed with the disease. It is the sixth-leading cause of death in Texas, claiming more than 5,600 lives in 2003.

Since opening its doors in 2001, the Stark Diabetes Center has recorded more than 35,324 patient visits. It averages 600 adult diabetes patient visits each month and receives 15 new requests for consultation each week. The Stark Foundation grant is assisting the center’s clinical services by supporting additional patient education programs.

Training people with diabetes how to maintain productive lives is a central tenet of the Stark Diabetes Center’s mission. The UTMB Adult Diabetes Education Program is offered at the facility in English three times a week and in Spanish twice a month and has been recognized by the American Diabetes Association since 1993 for excellence in maintaining national diabetes education standards. It is offered in conjunction with the UTMB School of Nursing to the university’s hospital patients.

The Stark Foundation grant will also help the Stark Diabetes Center’s community outreach efforts by increasing its participation in area health fairs and other community events, as well as including more of the state’s health care providers in UTMB diabetes seminars. These forums allow health care practitioners to discuss the latest therapies and discoveries about the disease.

Part of the Stark Foundation’s contribution supports an annual diabetes conference in Galveston. A grant from the Miriam and Emmett McCoy Foundation also funds the conference, which attracts allied health professionals across Texas and is coordinated by the Stark Diabetes Center and UTMB’s Office of Continuing Education.

UTMB President John D. Stobo said the Orange-based Stark Foundation has been pivotal in enhancing the university’s ability to care for Texans with diabetes. “The Stark Foundation’s generous contributions have enabled UTMB to establish and expand its premier diabetes center, helping the people of Southeast Texas to safeguard themselves from the disease or to live well with it,” Stobo said. “We are grateful for the foundation’s dedication to such a vital endeavor.”

Added Dr. Randall J. Urban, executive director of the Stark Diabetes Center, “The Stark Foundation is to be applauded for helping us provide compassionate, innovative health care to thousands of Texans living with this disease. Such benevolence is also allowing us to build upon our successes in research and patient education.” Urban holds the Edward Randall and Edward Randall Jr. Distinguished Chair in Internal Medicine and is chair of UTMB’s Department of Internal Medicine.

Orange residents Nelda Stark and her husband, H.J. Lutcher Stark, an oil and lumber businessman, started their foundation decades ago to contribute to various charitable interests. Now both deceased, the Starks became ardent UTMB supporters after many visits for treatment at the university in the 1950s and 1960s. Their foundation has contributed $3 million to the Stark Diabetes Center over the last six years.
The University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston
Public Affairs Office
301 University Boulevard, Suite 3.102
Galveston, Texas 77555-0144