Tilman Fertitta donates $50M to University of Houston medical school

The University of Houston's relatively new medical school also has a new name - the Fertitta Family College of Medicine.

The christening comes after a multi-million dollar donation from Houston businessman Tilman Fertitta.

Fertitta, who owns multiple high-profile businesses including the Houston Rockets, is also longtime chairman of the UH System Board of Regents. Now, his family has pledged $50 million to the medical school which was founded in 2019 with the aim of improving health care in underserved urban and rural communities. It's especially intended to help increase the number of primary care physicians.

Only about 20% of medical students nationwide go into primary care. The Tilman J. Fertitta Family College of Medicine hopes to have at least half of its graduates do so.

Last year, 249 of the 254 counties in Texas reportedly had too few primary care physicians.

The $50 million from Fertitta will be used to hire faculty members who are nationally recognized in their fields, support various scholarship funds, and cover expenses of graduate student research.

A $10 million portion for faculty hires will be matched by UH's "$100 Million Challenge," doubling the endowment.

The university says the Fertitta Family College of Medicine will have an estimated regional economic impact of $377 million by 2029 and expand health-related research at the school by an estimated 400% over the next 30 years.

The first two classes of UH medical students have been in temporary quarters, but construction on a new $80 million building is projected for completion this summer. The three-story facility sits on 43 acres of previously unused campus property along Martin Luther King Boulevard that will eventually become a full life-sciences complex.

This isn't the first UH building bearing Fertitta's name. In 2016, his $20 million donation to UH athletics helped transform the school's basketball arena into the Fertitta Center.

Fertitta also owns the giant Landry's restaurant group and the Golden Nugget casinos and hotels.

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