As Salvador Cruz-Flores, M.D., M.P.H., professor and founding chair of Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center El Paso’s Department of Neurology, tells his students, he did not particularly like studying neuroscience in medical school.
Rather than giving up, he rose to the challenge.
Today, Dr. Cruz-Flores is a recipient of the esteemed Texas Tech University System (TTU System) Chancellor’s Council Distinguished Teaching Award. The TTU System presents this prestigious award annually to educators who demonstrate a profound impact on their students and display exceptional dedication to teaching excellence.
TTU System Chancellor Tedd L. Mitchell, M.D., and TTUHSC El Paso President Richard Lange, M.D., M.B.A., honored Dr. Cruz-Flores during a March 31 ceremony on the TTUHSC El Paso campus.
“I’m deeply honored to have been chosen for this award,” said Dr. Cruz-Flores. “It’s incredibly humbling to receive this recognition for the privilege of doing something that I love, for I’m only one of many incredible teachers working here. This recognition isn’t only a testament to my passion for education but also to the incredible team of colleagues, students and staff that I’ve had the privilege of working with at TTUHSC El Paso. Together, we’ve created a learning environment that fosters growth, curiosity and excellence.”
Dr. Cruz-Flores earned his medical degree from the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de Nuevo León and completed training in internal medicine and neurology, as well as receiving his Master of Public Health at Saint Louis University. He is a fellow of several noted organizations, including the American Academy of Neurology, American Neurological Association, Neurocritical Care Society, Society of Critical Care Medicine, and American Heart Association.
With over two decades of experience in the field, Dr. Cruz-Flores has been instrumental in shaping the Department of Neurology at TTUHSC El Paso since its inception. Under his leadership, the department has grown significantly, providing comprehensive training and clinical experiences to its students, residents and fellows. His innovative educational initiatives have been a driving force in advancing the department’s reputation for excellence in neurological care.
“Dr. Cruz-Flores’ unwavering commitment to his students and the pursuit of knowledge has left an indelible mark on our institution,” said Dr. Lange. “His tireless dedication to teaching and mentoring the next generation of neurologists has helped establish TTUHSC El Paso as a hub for world-class patient care, pioneering research and top-tier medical education. We’re proud to have him as part of our team, and this award is a testament to his exceptional contributions.”
While serving as chief of staff at University Medical Center of El Paso, Dr. Cruz-Flores played a pivotal role in leading the stroke and neuroscience team. His efforts established the region’s first Mobile Stroke Unit — a specialized vehicle aimed at providing a swift response to stroke victims across El Paso. Under Dr. Cruz-Flores’ leadership, UMC became the first and only hospital in El Paso to receive a Comprehensive Stroke Center designation by The Joint Commission, in collaboration with the American Heart and Stroke Associations, signifying the highest level of stroke treatment available.
Dr. Cruz-Flores’ impact extends beyond the TTUHSC El Paso campus. He’s actively involved in numerous community outreach programs aimed at improving neurological health along the U.S.-Mexico border. Through his efforts, awareness and access to vital stroke and neurological care have increased, significantly benefiting community health in our Borderplex region. This includes the rural West Texas regions of Permian Basin and Big Bend, where the department of neurology recently provided improved epilepsy care using telemedicine and community education.
Throughout his career, Dr. Cruz-Flores has achieved many accomplishments. In 2021, he was appointed executive councilor for the Association of University Professors of Neurology, followed by a position on the Board of Directors of the American Neurological Association and the United Council of Neurological Specialties in 2022. He also currently holds the Jim and Julie Cardwell Endowed Chair in Neurology at TTUHSC El Paso.
Dr. Cruz-Flores’ work at TTUHSC El Paso has left a permanent mark on our Borderplex community. By establishing the Department of Neurology, he addressed a growing disparity in the region’s health care landscape, providing comprehensive care for stroke, epilepsy, movement disorders and other neurological conditions in historically underserved communities. Countless patients and families have seen their lives transformed for the better as a result.
Moreover, Dr. Cruz-Flores’ dedication to research and education has bolstered the university’s reputation as a beacon of health care innovation along the U.S.-Mexico border. His mentorship has inspired a new generation of health care professionals to address the region’s provider shortage, ensuring a diverse and skillful pool of neurologists and medical specialists.
“As we continue shaping the future of neurological care,” said Dr. Cruz-Flores, “I remain committed to empowering the next generation of medical professionals to serve our Borderplex community and beyond with compassion, skill and innovation. Someone once said that if your plan is for a year, plant rice. If your plan is for ten years, plant trees. If your plan is for a hundred years, educate people. That’s why I’m committed to education.”
The TTU System Chancellor’s Council Distinguished Teaching Award is a fitting tribute to Dr. Cruz-Flores’ commitment to excellence in education, research and patient care. TTUHSC El Paso is honored to have him on its faculty and looks forward to his continued contributions to the institution and the Borderplex community.
“These awards recognize the best of the best, and I am extremely honored to recognize our world-class faculty across the Texas Tech University System,” said Dr. Mitchell. “Our award recipients have ascended to the top of their areas of study and are leading experts at providing students with an unrivaled educational experience. I congratulate each of our esteemed faculty receiving this year’s teaching and research awards.”
The Chancellor’s Council fosters innovation and success across the TTU System through their annual gifts. Their prestigious Distinguished Teaching and Research Awards are the highest faculty and researcher honors bestowed by the TTU System. Awards are presented annually to outstanding educators and researchers in recognition of their exemplary scholarship.