• For Immediate Release
    August 20, 2014 - AUSTIN, TX
  • For more information, contact
    Chris Cutrone 512-305-8483

CPRIT Supporting Promising Advances From Prevention To Discovery And Delivery

New grants invest $107 million in Texas across research, prevention and product development spectrum in the fight against cancer.

AUSTIN — The Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas (CPRIT) today awarded 101 new grants: Two grants through its product development program, 15 grants through its prevention program and 84 grants through its research program.

CPRIT received nearly 600 grant applications, and after a rigorous review process, awarded grants to highly qualified cancer researchers, prevention initiatives and product development projects from institutions and organizations across the state.

“CPRIT funds provide needed support for individuals and organizations working to reduce the burden of cancer. Through our merit-based peer review, we identify a wide range of high-quality, innovative projects that positively impact the lives of Texans – both now and into the future,” said Wayne Roberts, CPRIT chief executive officer. “These new grants, plus the more than $970 million CPRIT has already invested in research, prevention and product development projects, will make new discoveries to cure and prevent cancer a reality.”

The product development grants support cancer research and development conducted by a Texas-based company and the relocation of an existing cancer-focused company to Texas. With a total requested amount of approximately $13.5 million, these grants will fund projects to develop novel brain cancer treatments and advanced imaging and diagnostic techniques.

The prevention awards, totaling $17.5 million, support a range of prevention services for underserved populations in Texas. The projects receiving evidence-based grants will address increasing HPV vaccination rates, tobacco cessation in young adult smokers and increasing access to colorectal cancer screening. The projects receiving competitive continuation grants will provide screening, diagnostic and vaccination services for breast, cervical, colorectal and other cancers. Additional competitive continuation grants support public and professional education projects.

The research grants, totaling approximately $76.2 million, support the recruitment of 8 cancer scientists and clinicians to academic institutions in Texas, including: promising researchers pursuing faculty appointment; outstanding early-stage researchers; and senior research faculty with distinguished professional careers and established cancer research programs. An additional 76 research grants support innovative research projects that will significantly advance knowledge of the causes, prevention and treatment of cancer.

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 101 product development, prevention and research grants awarded.


New Company Product Development:

  • Curtana Pharmaceuticals, Preclinical Drug Discovery and Development of Novel, First-in-Class, Small Molecule Compounds that Directly Target Glioblastoma and Other Brain Cancers – Relocating to Austin from San Diego, CA, three years, $7,580,185* requested
    • This project develops novel brain cancer treatments for the most common and deadliest of adult and pediatric brain cancer tumors.
  • OncoNano Medicine, LLC , Transforming Cancer Surgery by Tumor Illumination – Dallas, three years, $6,000,000* requested
    • This project develops nanotechnology-enabled fluorescent probes to help cancer surgeons visualize tumors during surgery, allowing them to excise tumors precisely and completely.

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


Evidence-Based Cancer Prevention Services:

  • Legacy Community Health Services , Increasing HPV Vaccinations in Harris and Jefferson Counties Using Combined Evidence-Based Approaches in a Federally Qualified Health Center – $1,500,000
  • The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston , Multi-Component Interventions to Increase HPV Vaccination in a Network of Pediatric Clinics – $1,495,388
  • The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio , SMS Cessation Service for Young Adult Smokers in South Texas $1,400,045
  • Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center El Paso , Tiempo de Vacunarte! Time to Get Vaccinated! – $1,499,195
  • The University of Texas Health Center at Tyler , Improving Access to Colorectal Cancer Screening in East Texas – $1,269,216
  • The University of Texas at San Antonio , Building a Healthy Temple Cancer Primary Prevention Program Amongst Hispanics – $573,095

Competitive Continuation/Expansion Grants:

  • Asian American Health Coalition of Greater Houston, doing business as Hope Clinic , Eliminating Cancer Disparities in Medically Underserved Immigrant and Refugee Populations in Houston Texas – $1,496,840
  • Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center , Access to Breast and Cervical Care for West Texas – $1,499,670
  • The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio , Educating Hispanic Adolescents and Their Families on Cervical Cancer Prevention and HPV Vaccination in Community and Clinic Settings – $149,985
  • Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center El Paso , ACCION 2: Against Colorectal Cancer in our Neighborhoods: El Paso and Hudspeth County – $1,499,438
  • Texas A&M University , Cancer Genomics Training Program for a Competent Texas Health Education Workforce – $149,991
  • The Bridge Breast Network , Bridging Access to Breast Healthcare Services – $1,497,357
  • Baylor College of Medicine , Empowering the Medically Underserved Through a Community Network for Cancer Prevention – $1,499,234
  • The University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas , Population Based Screening for Hereditary Breast and Ovarian Cancer Syndrome and the Lynch Syndrome in the Underserved Populations – $1,499,872
  • The Rose, Navigating Rural Highway II: Expanding Access to Breast Cancer Screening and the Care Continuum for Underserved Texas Women (NRH II) – $539,144


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

  • Yiwen Chen, Ph.D. , Recruitment to The University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center from Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Harvard School of Public Health – $2,000,000
  • George Eisenhoffer, Ph.D. , Recruitment to The University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center from the Huntsman Cancer Institute at the University of Utah – $2,000,000
  • Andrew Hsieh, M.D. , Recruitment to The University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas from University of California, San Francisco – $2,000,000
  • David McFadden, M.D., Ph.D. , Recruitment to The University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center from Massachusetts Institute of Technology – $2,000,000
  • Kexin Xu, Ph.D. , Recruitment to The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio from Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Harvard Medical School – $2,000,000
  • Aryeh Warmflash, Ph.D. , Recruitment to Rice University from The Rockefeller University – $2,000,000

Recruitment of Rising Stars**:

  • Daniela Nicastro, Ph.D. , Recruitment to The University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center from Brandeis University Department of Biology and Rosenstiel Basic Medical Sciences Research Center – $4,000,000

Recruitment of Established Investigators**:

  • Gang Bao, Ph.D. , Recruitment to Rice University Department of Bioengineering from Georgia Institute of Technology and Emory University – $6,000,000
    • Bao is a nationally recognized physician-scientist who conducts leading-edge cancer research in the field of nanomedicine and biomolecular engineering. He is expected to establish a highly active nanomedicine laboratory and work closely with other cancer researchers at Rice University and the Texas Medical Center.

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

Individual Investigator Research Awards (IIRA) — 61 grants totaling $51,279,773

  • The University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center — 25 grants totaling $21,306,235
    • Regulation of MDM2-Mediated Oncogenesis and Anti-Tumor Immunity by USP15 – $870,156
    • Role of TJP1in Sensitivity and Resistance to Proteasome Inhibitors in Myeloma – $900,000
    • Optimizing Therapy for Glioblastoma Through Genomic Profiling of Treatment Failure – $900,000
    • Next Generation Sequencing and Transcriptome Profiling of Oral Potentially Malignant Lesions to Identify Markers of Cancer Risk and Targets for Chemoprevention – $900,000
    • Collateral Genomic Deletions as Targetable Vulnerabilities in Cancer – $900,000
    • Role of a Novel Histone Variant-Specific Epigenetic Reader ZMYND11 in Breast Cancer – $899,534
    • Identification of a Novel Mechanism of mTORC1 and Autophagy Regulation for Cancer Therapy – $900,000
    • Systematic Investigation of Clinically Relevant Expressed Pseudogenes in Cancer – $870,539
    • Intrinsic Reward Sensitivity & Smoking Cessation with Varenicline or Patch NRT – $899,505
    • DNA Methylation and Telomere Length in Peripheral Blood as Predictors of Aggressive Prostate Cancer – $898,721
    • Inhibiting Oxidative Phosphorylation: A Novel Strategy in Leukemia – $826,744
    • Reversing Vaccination-Induced Impairment of Anti-CTLA-4-based Cancer Therapy – $899,991
    • Targeting of Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia by Designer T Cells – $900,000
    • Targeting p53 in Cancer Through Manipulation of p63 and p73 – $900,000
    • Preclinical Intravital Microscopy of Prostate Cancer Lesions in Bone: Identification and Eradication of Survival Niches by Combination Therapy – $256,061
    • Synaptic Mechanisms of Cognitive Decline After Cranial Radiation – $836,557
    • PAF, a Novel Wnt Signaling Regulator, in Colorectal Cancer – $900,000
    • PPAR-delta Regulation of Wnt/B-catenin to Drive Colon Cancer – $890,003
    • Direct Roles for RB and E2F1 in DNA Repair – $900,000
    • Toward the Cure of Myelodysplastic Syndrome: Interfering with Inmate Immunity Alterations in Human Mouse Systems – $900,000
    • CDK Inhibitors as Adjunctive to 5-FU and/or Radiation in Esophageal Adenocarcinoma- Assessment of Efficacy and Predictive Biomarkers – $882,133
    • Biology and Therapy of Basal Bladder Cancers – $865,587
    • The Role of DIRAS3 (ARHI) in Initiating Autophagy and Tumor Dormancy – $900,000
    • Targeting Tumor Cell Invasion in Glioblastoma – $900,000
    • A Missing Link Between Obesity and Cancer: Adipose Derived Stem Cells – $610,704
  • The University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center — 12 grants totaling $10,121,949
    • Endotrophin and the Obesity/Cancer Nexus: Role in Growth and Chemoresistance – $899,997
    • Evaluation of the Role of Tumor Suppressor Candidate NPRL2 in Cell Growth Control – $596,265
    • Mutant KRAS Reprograms Lipid Metabolism Exposing Beta-Oxidation as a Novel Therapeutic Target in Lung Cancer – $687,759
    • Novel Targets for Acute Myeloid Leukemia Treatment – $900,000
    • Noninvasive Identification of Prostate Tumor Hypoxia as a Prognostic Biomarker of Radiation Response – $895,820
    • Natural Product for Treatment of Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer – $772,368
    • Structure-Guided Kinase Inhibitor Design for Cancer Therapy – $900,000
    • Turn ON the Tumor Contrast for Surgical Resection of Head and Neck Cancers – $900,000
    • Targeting HER2 for Cancer Therapy – $892,989
    • Analyses of the Regulator Mechanisms of Tankyrase and Its Role in Tumorigenesis – $876,751
    • Targeting BRD4 in Breast Cancer – $900,000
    • Dependence of Small Cell Lung Cancer on the Basic Helix-Loop-Helix Transcription Factors Asc11 and NeuroD1 – $900,000
  • Baylor College of Medicine — 10 grants totaling $8,385,167
    • Novel Small Molecule Probes Targeting IDH Mutated Glioma – $695,527
    • Mechanisms of CTC Biomarkers in Breast Cancer Brain Metastasis – $899,968
    • Investigating and Preclinical Targeting Molecular Drivers of Muscle-Invasive Bladder Cancer – $827,451
    • Role of DNA METHYLTRANSFERASE 3A in Hematologic Malignancies – $900,000
    • Targeting Self-Renewal in Leukemic Stem Cells Through the Inactivation of KLF4 – $813,789
    • Role of DNA2 Nuclease in Cellular Tolerance of Replication Stress and Telomere Maintenance – Implications for Cancer Biology and Anticancer Therapy – $746,531
    • Translational Discovery of Resistance Genes and Cancer Gene Functions – $900,000
    • Tenascin-C and Metastatic Prostate Cancer Progression – $827,806
    • The Intersection Between Childhood Cancer and Congenital Anomalies: Identifying Novel Cancer Predisposition Syndromes – $874,964
    • Toll-Like Receptors, Gut Microbiota, and Risk of Colorectal Adenoma – $899,131
  • The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio
    • Inactivating Mutation of D2HGDH Establishes a Novel Link Between Metabolism, Alpha-KG Dependent Dioxygenases and Epigenetic Reprogramming in B Cell Lymphoma – $854,740
    • Modulation of Autophagy: Phase II Study of Vorinostat Plus Hydroxychloroquine vs. Regorafenib in Refractory Metastic Colorectal Cancer (mCRC) – $825,285
    • Investigation of the Tumor Suppressor TMEM127 on Lysosome Function and Lipid Metabolism – $881,146
    • MicroRNAs: Safe and Effective Therapeutic Adjuvants for Treating Drug Resistant Breast Cancers – $900,000
  • The University of Texas at Austin
    • New Therapeutic Strategies for Metastatic Melanoma – $900,000
    • Determining the Functional Role of MicroRNAs in Viral Tumorigenesis – $604,624
  • The University of Texas at Dallas
    • Optimal Biomarkers for Personalized Cancer Therapy: A Network-Based Approach – $490,689
    • Mapping Acidic Tumor Microenvironment with Renal Clearable pH Nanoindicators – $900,000
  • Baylor Research Institute
    • Next Generation Sequencing-Based Approaches for the Development of Epigenetic Biomarkers for Predicting Therapeutic Outcome in Patients with Colorectal Cancer – $886,982
  • Baylor University
    • Targeting Hypoxia in Breast Cancer with Highly Potent Small-Molecule Anticancer Prodrugs – $900,000
  • Rice University
    • Towards Point-of-Care Nucleic Acid Cancer Diagnostics – $900,000
  • Texas Tech University
    • Engineering Microfluidic Devices for Multimodal Mechanical Phenotyping of TumorCells in Flow – $674,465
  • The Methodist Hospital Research Institute
    • Accurate and High Throughput Detection of Breast and Ovarian Cancer Cells in Whole Blood – $900,000
  • The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston
    • The Role of Alternative Polyadenylation in Glioblastoma Tumor Progression – $848,491

High-Impact/High-Risk Research Awards (HIHR) — 15 grants totaling $2,997,762

  • Baylor College of Medicine
    • Integrated Human Herpesvirus 6 as a Novel Heritable Risk Factor for Glioma – $199,298
    • Viral MicroRNAs in Ovarian Cancer Growth and Metastasis – $199,995
    • Context-Specific in Vivo Screening for KRAS-Associated Gene Aberration Drivers Using Genetically Engineered Mouse Models of Lung Cancer – $199,715
  • The University of Texas at Austin
    • Development of Therapeutic Antibodies Having Both Fc[gamma] and Fc[Alpha] Effector Functions and Displaying Potent Cancer Cell Killing – $200,000
    • Realizing Personalized and Precision Medicine for Melanoma: A Rapid Assay for Measuring ERK Activity – $200,000
    • Synthetic Protein Degradation Agents to Clear Oncogentic Proteins From Cells – $199,852
  • Texas A&M University
    • Screening for Melanoma Genes Using Natural Hybrid Incompatibilities – $199,993
    • High-Field Open MRI: Cost-Effective Screening for Early Detection of Breast Cancer – $200,000
  • Texas Tech University
    • New Technology for Ultra High Throughput Enumeration of Circulating Tumor Cells – $199,993
    • Computational Chemistry Determination of DNA Damage Mechanisms in Proton Cancer Therapy to Optimize its Clinical Use – $200,000
  • The University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center
    • A New Cancer Target: AMPylation Machinery – $200,000
    • Dissecting a Necrotic Signaling Pathway in Human Cancer Cells – $200,000
  • Scott & White Healthcare
    • Novel, Humansized Single-Chain CD123xCD3 Bispecific Antibodies for Eliminating Leukemia Stem Cells and Leukemic Cells – $199,959
  • The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio
    • SHH/GLI3 Signaling Axis as a Therapeutic Target in Castration Resistant Prostate Cancer – $200,000
  • The University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center
    • Opening the Central Nervous System to Immunotherapy by Blocking TREK1 –$198,957