(AUSTIN) The governing board of the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas (CPRIT) approved $12 million in recruitment grants in its quarterly meeting at the Texas Capitol on Wednesday. The grants will bring two CPRIT Scholars from out-of-state institutions to Texas to expand their cancer research and add to the state’s growing cancer research prowess.
The Houston Methodist Research Institute is recruiting Dr. Keith Chan, a widely respected genitourinary cancer translational scientist currently at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, California, to Texas with a $6 million CPRIT Established Investigator award. Dr. Chan will serve as the Director of Translational Research at Houston Methodist’s Department of Urology. Dr. Chan’s work will focus on expediting the development of early-stage clinical trials and enhance chemoimmunotherapy responses in bladder cancer patients.
“The recruitment of Dr. Chan to Houston Methodist is critical,” said CPRIT CEO Wayne Roberts, “not just for his renowned research and translational skills, but for his ability to enhance Texas’ research capacity by mentoring the next generation of cancer researchers. Welcome to Texas, Dr. Chan.”
The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center is attracting another premier candidate, Dr. Rugang Zhang, to chair the Department of Experimental Therapeutics at MD Anderson. Dr. Zhang is an internationally recognized ovarian cancer researcher at the Wistar Cancer Institute in Philadelphia. With the help of a $6 million CPRIT Established Investigator recruitment award, Dr. Zhang brings the promise of developing new therapeutic strategies for rare subtypes of ovarian cancer based on genetic mutations.
“The addition of Dr. Zhang to MD Anderson is a home run for Texas cancer research,” said Roberts, “and once again it looks like Philadelphia’s loss is Houston’s gain. Dr. Zhang and his work promise to change the standard of care for those diagnosed with ovarian cancer. CPRIT is excited about bringing Dr. Zhang to Texas.”
The CPRIT Scholars program has awarded $819 million since 2009 to bring 285 stellar cancer investigators from all over the country - and the globe - here to Texas to expand their research. The program is a key part of the agency's mission to make Texas a worldwide leader in the fight against cancer.
“Today’s CPRIT recruitment grants deepen our bench for the fight against cancer here in Texas,” said Roberts. “The people of Texas entrusted CPRIT to accomplish this mission and we’re getting it done every day.”
Invited guest speakers at today’s meeting included representatives from Dallas biopharmaceutical company OncoNano, who updated the Oversight Committee on the company’s STING activator program. CPRIT awarded OncoNano three product development grants since 2014 totaling $31.4 million to develop new drugs to help trigger a patient's own immune system to fight cancer.
An additional presenter, Aubree Shay, PhD, Assistant Professor of Health Promotion and Behavioral Sciences at UTHealth Houston School of Public Health, recapped ongoing efforts through a CPRIT-funded prevention project to increase Human Papillomavirus (HPV) vaccinations for at-risk childhood cancer survivors.
ABOUT THE CANCER PREVENTION AND RESEARCH INSTITUTE OF TEXAS (CPRIT)
CPRIT was created by the Texas Legislature and approved by a statewide vote in 2007 to lead the Lone Star State’s fight against cancer. In 2019, Texas voters again voted overwhelmingly to continue CPRIT with an additional $3 billion for a total $6 billion investment in cancer research and prevention.
To date, the agency has awarded over $3 billion in grants to Texas research institutions and organizations through its academic research, prevention, and product development research programs. CPRIT has also recruited more than 285 distinguished researchers to Texas, supported the establishment, expansion or relocation of 52 companies to Texas, and generated over $7.6 billion in additional public and private investment.
The Oversight Committee is composed of appointees from the Governor, the Lieutenant Governor and the Speaker of the House and meets at least once every quarter to set the priorities for the agency as well as vote on proposed, peer-reviewed cancer research and prevention grants to institutions throughout the state.
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CPRIT RECRUITMENT AWARDS
November 16, 2022
Dr. Rugang Zhang UT M.D. Anderson Cancer Center (Houston) $6,000,000
Dr. Keith Chan The Houston Methodist Research Institute (Houston) $5,999,198