As big academic institutions go, the University of Texas System has it all—except one thing.
"It isn't everyday that a premiere research university gets a medical school,” Bill Powers, U.T. Austin president, said. “In fact, it has not happened in about 35 years."
And it's a first for the Austin school.
"For the first time, you will have physicians and students in physical proximity to the academic campus." Ken Shine, U.T. Health Affairs Vice Chancellor, said.
The $334 million complex will transform about eight blocks of downtown Austin.
"This is really a very forward-thinking effort to make sure that we're taking care of the health of our community for the next coming decades," Patricia Young Brown with Central Health said.
The Dell Medical School partners U.T. with the Seton Healthcare Family and the county's Central Health District.
"These are monumental efforts, but at the end of the day, these efforts, they're going to save lives,” Francisco Cigarroa, U.T. System Chancellor, said. “It's going to prepare a generation of physicians and health professionals that will be second to none."
One primary mission of the teaching hospital will be to serve uninsured patients.
"Adding the medical school with the four-year students, that will also increase the number and types of services that can be made available to our patients," Young Brown said. "This new medical school is an effort and an opportunity to train physicians to provide care in ways we have not done so in the past."
But most of all, prepare students for the future of healthcare.
"As the population continues to grow, the need's going to grow, and we have to be able to sustain a healthcare system that we can afford," Brown said.
The Dell Medical School is expected to open in 2016.
Long-term plans for the new medical school include taking over the current site of the Frank Erwin Center in 6 to 10 years.
A second U.T. System medical school is also planned for the Rio Grande Valley.