The Medical Center of the Americas Foundation legally formed in 2006, but its origins trace back to the late 1990s, when El Paso business, civic and government leaders moved forward on a plan to transform the region’s economy, which was primarily comprised of low-wage, low-skill jobs.

Understanding a critical need for improved health care in the Paso del Norte region, these leaders envisioned a health care “center of excellence” in the heart of the city—a home to a medical university, teaching hospitals, community clinics, and biotech research parks. This “life sciences hub” would create high-skill, high-wage jobs, produce highly trained health professionals, and attract investment in biotech to kick-start a major transformation of the region’s economy, while improving health care for the region’s residents.

Today, this vision has become reality—the MCA now leads the development of a 440-acre medical and biotech campus in South Central El Paso, home to Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center El Paso, University Medical Center of El Paso, El Paso Children’s Hospital, the Cardwell Collaborative research building, and a number of state, county and city organizations focused on health services.

Although we’re known for our growing El Paso campus, the MCA connects with universities, businesses and entrepreneurs across the Paso del Norte region and beyond with a shared vision of health care innovation and economic prosperity. Read on to learn more about the history of the MCA.

MCA Timeline


The MCA Foundation legally forms and holds its first board meeting.

Emma Schwartz steps off the board and contracts with the MCA as executive director. Architects and planners are invited to submit proposals for the first MCA campus master plan.


Architect Lee Burkhart Liu is selected to master plan the MCA campus.

Studies are conducted to measure and assess the current health care and life sciences capabilities and needs of the region. Planners host regular “charrettes”—meetings where input from community members helps shape the future of the MCA campus.

Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center holds a ribbon cutting for the Paul L. Foster School of Medicine at TTUHSC’s regional El Paso campus, located within the MCA campus footprint. It’s the first four-year medical school to be established along the U.S.-Mexico border.


Public meetings are held to discuss the master plan for the MCA campus.

The plan for a 140-acre campus is incorporated into the City of El Paso’s Comprehensive Plan.


A study of the region’s life sciences industry commissioned by the El Paso Regional Economic Development Corporation (REDCo) recommends the MCA build a private research and commercialization facility.

The MCA applies for an NIH grant to construct a research building. The MCA hosts the NIH Research Advancement Symposium, attended by nine high-level NIH officials.

Thomason Hospital, located within the MCA campus footprint, changes its name to University Medical Center of El Paso.

The Paul L. Foster School of Medicine welcomes 40 students into its inaugural class.


The MCA hires architect Lee Burkhart Liu and PlaceMakers to develop the second phase of the MCA campus expansion, including SmartCode rezoning of the campus.

The MCA launches Synapse, a regional life sciences newsletter.


The MCA campus master plan is expanded to 440 acres and incorporated into the City of El Paso’s Comprehensive Plan.

The El Paso City Council approves the creation of an economic development Impact Fund, allocating 75 percent of the fund to the MCA. The MCA holds a regional retreat to determine the best uses of the Impact Fund allocation.


MCA contracts with the city of El Paso for the 75% Impact fund allocation, approximately $2.7-3 Mill per year for 18 years, and commits to numerous "building" and "non-building" projects.

The El Paso Children’s Hospital, within the footprint of the MCA campus, opens to patients.


The MCA launches a for-profit subsidiary, the BioMedical Institute of the Americas (BMIA), dba as RedSky.

As a commercialization institute, BMIA serves as a resource to higher education institutions, entrepreneurs and others interested in starting biomedical companies.

The MCA begins the first steps in the development of a research and technology building that will be known as the Cardwell Collaborative. The MCA raises $8 million with a capital campaign, including a multi-million-dollar donation from El Paso businessman Jack Cardwell. A $1 million grant from the U.S. Economic Development Administration funded the design of the building.

The MCA hosts BIOMED, its first biomedical symposium, and hosts the State of Healthcare event in collaboration with the Greater El Paso Chamber of Commerce.

Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center’s regional El Paso campus, home to the Paul L. Foster School of Medicine, becomes Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center El Paso (TTUHSC El Paso)—an independent, stand-alone university within the Texas Tech University System.

Construction of the Gayle Greve Hunt School of Nursing begins on the TTUHSC El Paso campus.

The Paul L. Foster School of Medicine graduates its first class of 40 students.


The MCA continues designing the 60,000 SF Cardwell Collaborative Building and, purchases 13 acres of land on the MCA campus from the City of El Paso.

The MCA hosts Dynamica, the second regional biomedical symposium. Richard Lange, MD, MBA, hired as Founding President of TTUHSC El Paso.


Construction begins on the Cardwell Collaborative, and it is 80 percent complete by the end of the year.

TTUHSC El Paso signs a lease to occupy 20,000 square feet of the building.

The MCA contracts with the Center for Advancing Innovation for the Space Race startup challenge, a partnership with NASA to encourage the use of federally funded technologies by startup companies.

A ribbon cutting ceremony marks the opening of the Gayle Greve Hunt School of Nursing.


The MCA holds a ribbon cutting celebrating the opening of the Cardwell Collaborative in June.

Six tenants move in to the building.

The MCA’s Space Race startup challenge draws 40 teams—18 of them are local. Eleven winners and finalists are selected, receiving cash prizes and expert guidance as they move on to the final phase of the competition - 4 winners and 1 runner up are from the region.

The MCA hosts the inaugural Regional Clinical Research Symposium


The MCA Innovation Center, on the third floor of the Cardwell Collaborative, opens its doors to help early-stage technology entrepreneurs launch successful startups.

Innovation Center resources include assistance with technology development, business plans, investor pitches and grant and investment opportunities.

The Cardwell Collaborative has become a regional biotech company incubator, offering tenants wet and dry lab facilities outfitted with chemical and radioisotope fume hoods, incubators, cryogenic storage, 3D printers, and many other high-tech amenities.

The MCA hosts a one-day symposium, “The Future of the Medical Device Industry in El Paso-Juarez”, drawing nearly 200 attendees.

The MCA partners with Workforce Solutions Borderplex to create a report identify skills gaps and talent needs in the advanced manufacturing, life sciences and medical device industries.


MCA wins a bid to develop a 33,000 SF, $16 Million VA Wellness Center adjacent to the Cardwell Collaborative.

The MCA also completed the third version of the MCA Master Plan for the 440-acre biomedical campus to be executed in the next ten years.

The Innovation Center graduated 8 startups at the first official Demo Day and recruited a new cohort of Innovation Center participants that included 8 startups and 26 entrepreneurs and innovators.

The MCA also was awarded a grant from the Andeavor Foundation to plan for a stimulating STEM camp aimed at educating middle school students about the life sciences industry in the El Paso region.


The MCA wins the elusive EDA i6 Challenge Grant Award on the 5th try for $750,000 to support the MCA's Innovation Center.

The MCA Foundation was awarded the EDA Seed Fund Grant for $300,000 to plan and start an MCA Seed Fund for the region’s entrepreneurs and startups.

The MCA Innovation Center graduated 8 startups and 27 innovators from cohort 2 of the Innovation Center Program. Cohort 3 was launched in September with 5 startup participants. The Innovation Center developed 6 STARTUP Lab bootcamps that provided a structured curriculum to help startups bring their company from the idea stage to launch.

The MCA Clinical Trials Consortium attracted 3 integrated research organizations that lead to 8 signed contracts and 10 new high-paying jobs. The MCA Clinical Trials Consortium also launched its own regional clinical trials site.

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