• For Immediate Release
    February 18, 2015 - AUSTIN, TX
  • For more information, contact
    Chris Cutrone 512-305-8483

CPRIT Awards 58 Research Grants to Advance the Fight Against Cancer

The Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas (CPRIT) today awarded four grants through its product development research program and 54 grants through its academic research program.

The product development research grants support oncology-focused research and development conducted by Texas-based companies. With a total requested amount of $48.5 million, these grants will fund projects focused on taking promising cancer treatments and therapies from the laboratory into clinical practice.

The academic research grants, totaling $62.9 million, support three awards to recruit cancer scientists to academic institutions in Texas, including emerging researchers pursuing faculty appointment. An additional 51 grants support innovative research projects that will significantly advance knowledge of the causes, prevention, early detection and/or treatment of cancer.

In November, the CPRIT Oversight Committee adopted new annual priorities to guide its grant awards. In line with those priorities, ten of the awards focus specifically on childhood and adolescent cancer and five focus specifically on prevention and early detection.

After undergoing CPRIT’s merit-based peer review process, the grants were recommended by their respective program review councils and approved by the Oversight Committee.

See attached for a list and brief summaries of all 58 research grants awarded.


Company Formation Awards:

  • Armada Pharmaceuticals, Inc., Development of anti-cancer antibody-drug conjugate therapeutics – Houston, three years, $12,750,000* requested

This project develops a cancer therapeutic that combines an antibody targeting the cancer cell with a drug that kills the cell.

  • Medicenna Therapeutics, Inc., A multi-targeted approach for recurrent glioblastoma and other aggressive cancers: exploiting the potential of IL-4 fusion proteins treatment of cancer – College Station, three years, $14,140,090* requested

This project develops treatments for brain cancers that affect both adults and children, including glioblastoma multiforme (GBM). GBM is the most common form of adult brain cancer, with 11,000 new cases annually in the U.S.

  • Immatics Biotechnologies, Personalized cellular immunotherapy against novel cancer targets – Houston, three years, $19,652,175* requested

This project develops several types of immunotherapies which are intended to activate a patient’s T-cells to battle cancer.

  • NanoTx Therapeutics, Development of rhenium nanoliposomes for cancer therapy – San Antonio, three years, $2,000,000* requested

This project develops a method for taking radioactive material about one-thousandth the size of a cell and injecting it into a tumor, which ingests it and irradiates itself from the inside out.

* Maximum amount to be funded upon successful completion of all milestones


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

  • Jenna L. Jewell, Ph.D., Recruitment to The University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas from University of California, San Diego – $2,000,000
  • Vincent S. Tagliabracci, Ph.D., Recruitment to The University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas from University of California, San Diego – $2,000,000
  • Jonathan Sczepanski, Ph.D., Recruitment to Texas A&M University from The Scripps Research Institute, La Jolla, California – $2,000,000

**Recruitment grants awarded indicate only approval to negotiate offers; at the time of release candidates have not accepted offers

Individual Investigator Research Awards (IIRA) – 36 grants totaling $32,032,432

  • The University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center – 18 grants totaling $16,033,646
    • Exploring Molecular and Immune Mechanisms of Response and Resistance to Combined BRAF/MEK Inhibition in Patients with High-Risk Resectable Metastatic Melanoma – $900,000
    • Elucidating the Evolution of the Premalignant Airway Genome in Space and Time – $886,173
    • Role of PTEN Feedback Mechanism in Cancer – $900,000
    • Targeting 17q23 Amplicon in HER2-Positive Breast Cancer – $828,242
    • Investigating the Regulation of miRNA and IncRNAs by p63 in Mammary Tumor Progression and Metastasis – $900,000
    • Genome Stability and Immune Diversity Controlled by the POLQ Pathway – $900,000
    • Identifying Drivers of Lung Metastasis in Triple Negative Breast Cancer – $899,637
    • Regulation of Dormancy of Metastatic Prostate Cancer Cells by Bone Microenvironment – $900,000
    • Discovering the Molecular Mechanisms that Determine Replicative Lifespan – $892,104
    • Function of Fibroblasts and Collagen I in Pancreas Cancer – $898,811
    • Role of TBK1 in Regulating Dendritic Cell Function and Antitumor Immunity – $876,958
    • EGFR Arginine Methylations: Biomarkers for Cetuximab Resistance in Colon Cancer – $900,000
    • Mechanisms of De Novo and Acquired Resistance to Therapeutic Treatment of Bone-Metastatic Prostate Cancer – $900,000
    • Identification of Clinically Relevant Targets for Radiosensitization – $899,280
    • T-Cell Activating Immunotherapy for Indolent B-Cell Malignancies – $852,595
    • Leukemia Inhibitory Factor Receptor Signaling and Function in Cancer – $900,000
    • On the Role of DEAR1 in the Regulation of Cell Polarity and Progression from DCIS to Invasive Breast Cancer – $899,846
    • Tumor Cell Epithelial-Mesenchymal Transition in Regulating Immunosuppression and Metastasis in Lung Cancer – $900,000
  • The University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas – 7 grants totaling $6,203,171
    • Mechanisms of Nuclear Import and Export in Cancer – $900,000
    • Functional and Structural Characterization of a Small Chemical Compound that Arrests Glioma Stem Cell Growth With High Activity and Specificity – $900,000
    • Peripheral Nerve Tolerance to Single-Session Stereotactic Irradiation – $897,779
    • A Phase I Trial of Stereotactic HYpofractionateD RadioAblative (HYDRA) Treatment of Advanced Laryngeal Cancer – $860,540
    • TAMU-UT Southwestern Partnership for Breast Imaging and Spectroscopy at 7 Tesla – $897,311
    • Translating Online Adaptive Radiotherapy from Lab to Clinical Practice – $858,356
    • Harnessing the Cytosolic DNA Sensing Pathway for Cancer Immunotherapy – $889,185
  • Baylor College of Medicine – 5 grants totaling $4,450,990
    • Understanding How NCOA6 Suppresses Endometrial Cancer by Inhibiting the Wnt/beta-Catenin Pathway – $886,524
    • The Role of Progesterone Receptor in Early Stage Breast Cancer – $864,661
    • Broad Shortening of 3’ UTRs in Human Cancers: Methods, Target Genes and Functional Consequences – $900,000
    • Effects of Hormonal Therapy on Subclonal Evolution of Breast Tumors with ESR1 Mutations – $899,805
    • SRC-2 Driven “Metabolic Switch” in Metastatic Prostate Cancer-Prognostic and Therapeutic Implications – $900,000
  • The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio
    • Prostate Cancer Chemoprevention with Resveratrol – $900,000
    • Vertical Targeting of the B Cell Receptor in Leukemia and Lymphoma – $899,879
    • Cellular Mechanisms of Chemotherapy-Induced Peripheral Neuropathy – $844,746
  • Texas A&M University
    • Tumor Suppression through the cGAMP/STING Pathway – $900,000
  • The University of Texas at Austin
    • Targeting Twist1 for Prevention and Treatment of Non-Melanoma Skin Cancer – $900,000
  • The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston
    • Counteracting Tumor Evasion of Antibody Immunity by a Novel Therapeutic Strategy – $900,000

Individual Investigator Research Awards (IIRA) for Cancer in Children and Adolescents – 10 grants totaling $17,988,088

  • Baylor College of Medicine
    • Developing New Combinatory Therapies for Pediatric High Grade Glioma – $1,945,940
    • Genetic Susceptibility to Testicular Germ Cell Tumors – $1,406,791
    • Drug Discovery and Mechanistic Studies of Protein Methylation Targeting Leukemia – $1,733,813
    • Personalized Functionalization of Pediatric High Grade Glioma – $1,820,319
  • The University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center
    • Defining and Treating Targetable Lesions in AYA Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia – $1,989,950
    • Epigenetics in Medulloblastoma Development and Therapeutics – $1,871,708
  • Texas Tech University Health Science Center
    • Translational Investigations on Fenretinide and Safingol for Pediatric Cancer Use – $1,999,415
  • The University of Houston
    • An Ultra-Sensitive Nanomagnetic Sensor for the Early Detection of Anaplastic Large Cell Lymphoma – $1,929,710
  • The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio
    • Ewing’s Sarcoma, a Homologous Recombination Defective Disease – $2,000,000
  • The University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas
    • Using Imaging and Computational Tools to Improve Risk Stratification in Children with Bone Cancer – $1,290,442

Individual Investigator Research Awards (IIRA) for Prevention and Early Detection – 5 grants totaling $6,901,574

  • The University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center
    • Mechanisms of DHA and EPA Differential Effects on Colon Cancer Chemoprevention – $920,926
    • Varenicline and Combined NRT for Initial Smoking Cessation and Rescue Treatment in Smokers: A Randomized Pilot Trial – $1,493,464
  • Texas A&M Engineering Experiment Station
    • High-Throughput Screening and Detection of Circulating Tumor Cells – $1,135,450
  • The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston
    • Multi-Component Interventions for Patients and Providers to Increase HPV Vaccination in a Network of Pediatric Clinics in Houston, TX – $2,498,986
  • The University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston
    • Noninvasive Multiscale Imaging for Optical Biopsy in Epithelial Cancers – $852,748

About the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas

Beginning operations in 2009, CPRIT has to date awarded more than $1 billion in grants to Texas researchers, institutions, non-profits and private enterprises. CPRIT provides funding through its research – scientific and product development – and prevention programs. Programs made possible with CPRIT funding have reached every corner of the state, brought more than 80 distinguished researchers to Texas, advanced scientific and clinical knowledge, and provided more than 1.9 million life-saving education, training, prevention and early detection services to Texans. Learn more at cprit.state.tx.us.