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Gifts From the Heart Lead To Clinical Trials for COVID-19 Vaccine

Gifts From the Heart Lead To Clinical Trials for COVID-19 Vaccine

Elizabeth Sauer, BBA '66, known to all as Betsy, was a Houston native. She referred to Austin as "her place" and was known to say "hook 'em!" rather than hello or goodbye. She considered the four years she spent at The University of Texas at Austin to be the best years of her life. When Betsy wrote her estate plan, she wanted to help others experience their own life-defining moments at UT.

The three endowed scholarships that Betsy Sauer established through her estate plan have been awarded 13 times since 2017.

Betsy knew from a young age that she wanted to attend UT. Smart and independent, she was one of only two women in her business school's graduating class and a lifelong Longhorn. Her brother, Henry Sauer, Jr., BBA '62 and J.D. '64, reflected, "If you ever saw a crowd of people in burnt orange with horns up, odds were that Betsy was in that crowd."

Betsy's generous support established two endowed presidential scholarships for McCombs School of Business undergraduates. One of the recipients is Morgan Grosch, BBA '21, Canfield Business Honors and Plan II. "As one of five children in my family to attend college, the Elizabeth A. Sauer Endowed Presidential Scholarship has eased the financial cost of my education," Morgan said. "I have been able to fully embrace all of the opportunities available to me at UT, from conducting research to joining on-campus organizations. Because of her support, I have been fortunate enough to follow my academic passions wherever they lead me."

One of the only things that Betsy loved more than UT was her family. She honored her brother and sister-in-law, Judy Sauer, B.A. '64, with gifts to fields of study she knew meant the most to them.

From left to right: David Taylor and Aguang Dai show Daniel Leahy how to collect cryo-EM data. Jason McLellan (left), the Robert A. Welch Chair in Chemistry, and graduate student Daniel Wrapp. Photos: Vivian Abagiu

“The gifts from Betsy are more than we could have imagined. They have given Henry and me a meaningful new connection to the university.”

— Judy Sauer

In honor of Henry, she established an endowed scholarship with the School of Law. The scholarship is awarded to students with strong academic performance and has been given to five students since it was established in 2018. 

Her gift to honor Judy was directed to the College of Natural Sciences and helped set up the Sauer Laboratory for Structural Biology. "The generous gift from the Sauer family enabled UT to acquire two state-of-the-art cryo-electron microscopes and recruit David Taylor, assistant professor of Molecular Biosciences and co-director of the Sauer Lab, and Jason McLellan, associate professor of Molecular Biosciences and the Robert A. Welch Chair in Chemistry," said Dan Leahy, co-director of the Sauer Lab. "David's work has illuminated new mechanisms underlying gene-editing that could help overcome obstacles to treating life-threatening disorders such as cancer, HIV and Huntington's disease. Jason's lab created the first 3D atomic-scale map of the part of the COVID-19-causing coronavirus — the spike protein — that is essential for infecting human cells. The spike protein is the basis for multiple COVID-19 vaccines in late-stage clinical trials." 

"The gifts from Betsy are more than we could have imagined. They have given Henry and me a meaningful new connection to the university," Judy said. 

Betsy's forethought and support will continue to change the lives of students through scholarships. It will also impact science and medicine today — through groundbreaking COVID-19 discoveries and future innovations for generations to come. 

Hook 'em!


This article originally appeared on the Texas Leader website.​

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Friday, 22 January 2021

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