MD Anderson receives $7.5 million in CPRIT funding for research and facility support

The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center this week was awarded $7.5 million from the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas (CPRIT). The awards included $3.8 million for early translational, individual investigator and high-risk/high-impact research, and $3.7 million for core facility support.

Since its inception, CPRIT has awarded $1.89 billion in grants for cancer research, of which MD Anderson has received more than 20 percent. The agency began making awards in 2009 after Texas voters overwhelmingly approved a 2007 constitutional amendment committing $3 billion to the fight against cancer.

“It is indeed an honor that CPRIT has again recognized the important scientific contributions being made by our world-class researchers at MD Anderson,” said Marshall Hicks, M.D., president ad interim of MD Anderson. “We are proud of our investigators who were awarded CPRIT funds this week, and we applaud our entire team for their work to accomplish our mission of eliminating cancer.”

CPRIT provides funding through its academic research, prevention, and product development research programs. Programs made possible with CPRIT funding have reached all 254 counties of the state, brought more than 135 distinguished researchers to Texas, advanced scientific and clinical knowledge, and provided more than 3.9 million life-saving education, training, prevention and early detection services to Texans.

“The large number of awards approved by CPRIT underlies the growth of the cancer-fighting ecosystem in Texas,” said Wayne Roberts, CPRIT chief executive officer. “This momentum is evident as Texas expands its critical mass of talent in our life-sciences sector."

CPRIT awards to MD Anderson included:

Early Translational Research Award

  • Targeting Ubiquitination for Cancer Therapy (Shuxing Zhang, Ph.D., Pharm.D., associate professor of Experimental Therapeutics ) – $915,000

Individual Investigator Awards

  • Role of HDAC8 and Higher Order Chromatin Structure in Melanoma Metastasis and Therapy, (Kunal Rai, Ph.D., assistant professor of Genomic Medicine) – $823,154
  • Novel Regulation and Function of TAK1 in Mutant Kras-driven Development of Pancreatic Ductal Adenocarcinoma (Paul Chiao, Ph.D., professor of Molecular and Cellular Oncology) - $823,500

High-Impact/High-Risk Awards

  • Capitalizing on Therapeutic Liabilities in RAS-Mutant Cancers with a Rational Combination Therapy with PARP and MEK Inhibitors (Gordon Mills, M.D., Ph.D., chair of Systems Biology) – $200,000
  • Identification of Critical Dependencies and Actionable Therapeutic Options in Smarcb1-Deficient Pediatric Tumors (Giulio Draetta, M.D., Ph.D., senior vice president of Discovery and Platforms, Therapeutics Discovery) – $200,000

Core Facility Support Award

  • The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center Science Park Flow Cytometry and Cell Imaging Core (Ellen Richie, Ph.D., professor of Epigenetics and Molecular Carcinogenesis) – $3,693,219