$24 million in CPRIT funding awarded to MD Anderson and related research

Funds support early-career clinical investigators, basic science and translational research, cancer prevention and drug development efforts

The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center today was awarded nearly $9 million from the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas (CPRIT) to support research, clinical translation and prevention efforts. An additional $15.5 million was awarded to ImmunoGenesis, Inc., which has licensed technologies based on discoveries made by MD Anderson researchers. In total, these projects received nearly 21% of the $114 million in awards announced by CPRIT.

MD Anderson awards included $3 million for early clinical investigator awards, $750,000 for high-impact, high-risk awards, $2.7 million for individual investigator awards, $1.2 million for individual investigator research awards for clinical translation, and $900,000 for individual investigator research awards for prevention and early detection.

CPRIT awarded $15.5 million to ImmunoGenesis, Inc., which will advance bispecific PD-L1/PD-L2 antibodies initially developed by the laboratory of Michael Curran, Ph.D., associate professor of Immunology, and the ORBIT platform, part of MD Anderson’s Therapeutics Discovery division.

“We appreciate CPRIT’s vital support of our experts who are working to advance our research and prevention efforts to accomplish MD Anderson’s mission to end cancer,” said Peter WT Pisters, M.D., president, MD Anderson. “These critical funds facilitate our research into basic science discoveries, novel therapies, prevention strategies and drug development efforts that lead to cutting-edge clinical care for cancer patients here in Texas and throughout the world.”

Since its inception, CPRIT has awarded $2.6 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 from all 254 counties of the state, advanced scientific and clinical knowledge, brought more than 200 distinguished researchers to Texas, and provided more than 6.6 million cancer education, training, prevention and early detection services to Texans.

“Today’s investments demonstrate CPRIT’s continued commitment to cancer research and the unparalleled growth of the cancer-fighting ecosystem across Texas,” said Wayne Roberts, chief executive officer, CPRIT.

CPRIT awards to MD Anderson include:

Early Clinical Investigator Awards:

  • Nicolas Palaskas, M.D., Cardiology - $1,499,996
  • Chad Tang, M.D., Radiation Oncology - $1,491,551

High-Impact, High-Risk Awards:

  • Elucidating Pre-metastatic Niches at Single Cell Resolution (Filippo Giancotti, M.D., Ph.D., Cancer Biology) - $249,996
  • Targeted Proteolysis of Glucocorticoid Receptor (GR) as a Therapeutic Strategy to Enhance Anti-Tumor Immunity (Yonathan Lissanu Deribe, M.D., Ph.D., Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery) - $249,992
  • Targeting B Cells to Enhance Responses to Immune Checkpoint Blockade (Jennifer Wargo, M.D., M.M.Sc., Surgical Oncology) - $249,755

Individual Investigator Research Awards:

  • A Hippo Pathway Sensitized Genetic Screen for Regulators of Yap/Taz Driven Hepatocellular Carcinoma (Randy Johnson, Ph.D., Cancer Biology) - $899,999
  • Targeted Inhibition of Autophagy for Treatment of Dormant Ovarian Cancer (Steven Millward, Ph.D., Urology) - $900,000
  • Predicting Response and Improving Efficacy of CAR T-cell Therapy in DLBCL (Linghua Wang, Ph.D., Genomic Medicine) - $899,020

Individual Investigator Research Award for Clinical Translation:

  • Harnessing Aurora Kinase Inhibition-Induced Cell Death to Enhance Immunotherapy in HPV- Driven Cancers (Jagannadha Sastry, Ph.D., Thoracic Head & Neck Medical Oncology) - $1,199,997

Individual Investigator Research Award for Prevention and Early Detection:

  • Improving Risk Prediction for Li-Fraumeni Syndrome: A Practical Tool for Clinical Health Care Providers (Banu Arun, M.D., Breast Medical Oncology) - $896,896

Texas Company Product Development Award:

  • Development of a Cytoreductive Bispecific PD-L1/PD-L2 Antibodies Active across Immune “Hot” and “Cold” Cancers based on discoveries made at MD Anderson (ImmunoGenesis, Inc.) - $15,455,860