CPRIT renews funding for MD Anderson training program focused on education and research

Today, the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas (CPRIT) awarded The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center $4 million in continued funding for the MD Anderson Cancer Center CPRIT Research Training Program, which provides fundamental, interdisciplinary and innovative training in cancer research for basic and translational scientists. The grant renewal funds the program for another five years.

The program includes three tracks: the CPRIT TRIUMPH (Translational Research in Multidisciplinary Programs) post-doctoral program, the CPRIT Graduate Scholar program, and the CPRIT Summer Undergraduate Research program. Since the program’s inception in 2010, 447 undergraduates, 52 Ph.D. graduate students and 36 postdoctoral trainees have completed these tracks, and it has received three grant renewals from CPRIT. 

“We are excited to receive this renewal grant and to have the opportunity to continue our impactful training program at MD Anderson,” said Khandan Keyomarsi, Ph.D., program co-director and professor of Experimental Radiation Oncology. “We sincerely appreciate CPRIT’s support, our institutional support and our many dedicated faculty mentors, which have all contributed significantly to our program’s success.”

Students on all tracks of the program have excelled in their STEM education and careers. For instance, seven students who participated in the 2020 CPRIT CURE summer undergraduate program were awarded the prestigious Goldwater Scholarship. One of the graduate scholars received a Fulbright Fellowship in 2019, and several have high-tier, first-author publications in journals like Cell and Nature Communications. Its post-doctoral trainees also continue to amass first-author publications in top journals such as Cancer Discovery and Cancer Cell, and to secure independent research support, including NIH K00, F32 and R01 Diversity Supplement awards. Further, the program outcomes indicate similar successes for minority and non-minority students, suggesting that it helps remove barriers to advancement in the cancer research field.

“With this renewed funding, we plan to continue expanding our mentorship and training opportunities, recruiting top talent, and conducting research alongside our esteemed faculty mentors,” said Stephanie Watowich, Ph.D., program co-director and professor of Immunology.

Since its inception, CPRIT has awarded $2.73 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 2010 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 from all 254 counties of the state, advanced scientific and clinical knowledge, brought more than 200 distinguished researchers to Texas, and provided more than 7.1 million cancer education, training, prevention and early detection services to Texans.

“We are grateful for CPRIT’s support of MD Anderson’s vital programs,” said Peter WT Pisters, M.D., president, MD Anderson. “The funds received today will allow the MD Anderson Cancer Center CPRIT Research Training Program to continue educating the next generation of cancer researchers, making a lasting impact on their professional and academic careers as well as on the future of cancer research, prevention, treatment and survivorship.”