• For Immediate Release
    May 21, 2014 - AUSTIN, TX
  • For more information, contact
    Ellen Read 512-305-8483

CPRIT Awards Product Development and Research Grants


AUSTIN — The Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas (CPRIT) today awarded two grants through its product development program and 14 recruitment grants through its research program.

The product development grants support oncology-focused research and development conducted by Texas-based companies. With atotal requested amount of about $44.9 million, these grants will fund projects focused on developing novel cancer treatments that build on the success of previous CPRIT-funded research.

The research grants, totaling approximately $37.3 million, support the recruitment of cancer scientists and clinicians to academic institutions in Texas, including: promising emerging researchers pursuing faculty appointment; outstanding early-stage researchers; and senior research faculty with distinguished professional careers and established cancer research programs.

After undergoing CPRIT’s 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 16 product development and research grants awarded.

AWARDED PRODUCT DEVELOPMENT GRANTS

Company Product Development:

  • AERase, Inc., Pre-IND development, phase I clinical trails and predictive biomarker evaluation for engineered human arginase targeting the metabolic vulnerability of tumors – Austin, three years, $19,806,145* requested

    This project develops novel cancer treatments by exploiting the unique metabolism of cancer cells. The drug development looks to build on successful CPRIT-funded scientific research that showed tumor shrinkage in several cancer types using a naturally-occurring human enzyme.

  • Mirna Therapeutics, Inc., Preclinical and clinical development of synergistic microRNA and targeted drug combinations – Austin, three years, $25,147,614* requested

    This project develops a new class of cancer treatments based on a compound that mimics naturally-occurring tumor suppressor microRNAs. Applying findings from a previous successful CPRIT-funded drug development project, Mirna aims to maximize efficacy and broaden the base of patients who can be treated with the drug to include patients with non-small cell lung cancer.

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

AWARDED RESEARCH GRANTS

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

  • Cullen Taniguchi, M.D., Ph.D., Recruitment to The University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center from Stanford University – $2,000,000
  • David Mayerich, Ph.D., Recruitment to University of Houston from University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign – $2,000,000
  • Gary Hon, Ph.D., Recruitment to The University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas from Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research, San Diego Branch – $2,000,000
  • Jian Xu, Ph.D., Recruitment to The University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas from Boston Children’s Hospital, Howard Hughes Medical Institute – $2,000,000
  • Priscilla Brastianos, M.D., Recruitment to The University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center from Dana-Farber Cancer Institute – $2,000,000
  • Samira Azarin, Ph.D., Recruitment to Rice University from Northwestern University – $2,000,000
  • Weibo Luo, Ph.D., Recruitment to The University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas from The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine  – $2,000,000
  • Andre Catic, M.D., Ph.D., Recruitment to Baylor College of Medicine from Harvard University – $2,000,000
  • Laura Banaszynski, Ph.D., Recruitment to The University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas from The Rockefeller University – $2,000,000
  • Yun Huang, Ph.D., Recruitment to Texas A&M Health Science Center from La Jolla Institute for Allergy & Immunology – $1,800,000

 Recruitment of Rising Stars**:

  • Kevin Pruitt, Ph.D., Recruitment to Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center from Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center Shreveport – $2,539,259

Recruitment of Established Investigators**:

  • Matthew Ellis, Ph.D., B.Chir, FRCP, Recruitment to Baylor College of Medicine from Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis – $6,000,000

    Ellis is a nationally recognized physician-scientist who has contributed to studies on breast cancer and to breast cancer treatment. He is a national leader in breast cancer clinical trials and has extensive grant support, as well as research collaborations.

  • Marco Durante, Ph.D., Recruitment to The University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas from GSI Helmholtz Centre for Heavy Ion Research, Darmstadt, Germany – $3,000,000

    Durante is a world leader in the field of particle radiobiology and medical physics. He has published extensively in several different areas and crosses various disciplines in his research and collaborations.  He has a strong track record in building programs and attracting research funding.

  • John Tainer, Ph.D., Recruitment to The University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center from Scripps Research Institute and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory – $6,000,000

    Tanier is one of the top structural biologists in the country and has elucidated the crystal structures of many components of the major DNA repair pathways. His work has been published in premier journals, and he is Principal Investigator on nine federal grants and has filed seven patents on his work.

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


About the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas

Beginning operations in 2009, CPRIT has to date awarded more than $930 million in grants to Texas researchers, institutions, non-profits and private enterprises. Besides scientific research funding, CPRIT also provides funding for product development and prevention programs. Programs made possible with CPRIT funding have reached every corner of the state, brought more than 50 distinguished researchers to Texas, advanced scientific and clinical knowledge, and made life-saving education, training, prevention and early detection services accessible to more than 1.3 million Texans at risk of cancer. In 2013, CPRIT worked with the Texas Legislature and its stakeholders on restructuring measures that have strengthened agency governance and improved transparency and accountability. Learn more at cprit.state.tx.us.

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