CPRIT awards nearly $13 million in support of MD Anderson research

Funds to facilitate clinical trial collaboration across Texas, early-career clinical investigators, basic and translational science research, and faculty recruitments

The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center has been awarded $12.75 million from the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas (CPRIT) to support basic, clinical, translational and prevention research efforts, including $3 million for a new project to build clinical trial network infrastructure across Texas. MD Anderson also received $3 million for early clinical investigator awards, $750,000 for high-impact, high-risk awards and $6 million for faculty recruitments.

“We are thankful for CPRIT’s continued support of MD Anderson’s fundamental research in cancer research, education and prevention,” said Peter WT Pisters, M.D., president, MD Anderson. “These awards will strengthen our efforts to increase access to clinical trials for patients and will help us to better understand cancer biology, to develop targeted therapies and to support the next generation of leaders in cancer research.”

The newly funded clinical trials network will serve as a central hub providing affiliated sites with the robust infrastructure needed to conduct and expand therapeutic clinical trials while improving the diversity of patient enrollment. This initiative will allow MD Anderson to share its clinical trials expertise and capabilities regionally, with the goal of expansion throughout the state. In the first stage of the project, MD Anderson is partnering with Lyndon B. Johnson Hospital in Harris County and The University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston County to increase clinical trial enrollment for minority populations and those who previously did not have access to cutting-edge, novel therapeutic clinical trials.

“We are excited that this funding opportunity will allow us to develop the critical infrastructure to enable clinical trial growth at affiliated sites, providing the opportunity for historically underrepresented patients to gain access to MD Anderson clinical studies,” said Michael Overman, M.D., professor of Gastrointestinal Medical Oncology and leader of the clinical trials network. “We appreciate that CPRIT understands and recognizes the large amount of personnel and infrastructure required to allow clinical trials to be conducted successfully and to benefit as many Texans as possible.”

Since its inception, CPRIT has awarded $3 billion in grants for cancer research, of which MD Anderson and its projects have received approximately 20% of the total awards. The agency began awarding funds in 2009 after Texas voters overwhelmingly approved a 2007 constitutional amendment committing $3 billion to fight cancer. In November 2019, voters approved another amendment to the Texas constitution that will fund CPRIT with an additional $3 billion over the next 10 years.

Programs facilitated by CPRIT funding have reached Texans across all 254 counties of the state, advanced scientific and clinical knowledge, brought more than 200 distinguished researchers to Texas, and provided 7.4 million cancer education, training, prevention and early detection services to Texans.

“Today illustrates the powerful return on Texas’ investment in cancer research and prevention,” explained Wayne Roberts, CPRIT’s Chief Executive Officer.  “Not only is the state enhancing its reputation as the center for innovative cancer research with more than 250 preeminent scientists recruited to Texas through our CPRIT Scholar program, but the eight new clinical trial grants will expand Texans’ access to promising cancer treatments.”

CPRIT awards to MD Anderson include:

Clinical Trials Network Awards:

  • Building a Clinical Trial Network for Texas Community Affiliates (Michael Overman, M.D., Gastrointestinal Medical Oncology) - $3,000,000

Early Clinical Investigator Awards:

 High Impact/High Risk Research Awards:

  • Identification of Collateral Lethal and Synthetic Lethal Targets in Pancreatic and Colorectal Cancers (Ronald DePinho, M.D., Cancer Biology) - $249,994
  • Multiplex CRISPR Genetic Modeling of Polypharmacology for Precision Medicine (Traver Hart, Ph.D., Bioinformatics and Computational Biology) - $250,000
  • Development of TCR-Based Immunotherapies Targeting Hotspot EGFR Mutations for the Treatment of Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer (Alexandre Reuben, Ph.D., Thoracic/Head & Neck Medical Oncology) - $250,000

Recruitment of First-Time, Tenure-Track Faculty Members Awards:

  • Recruitment of three experts - $6,000,000