Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas Funds Flow to Houston

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Dubois_CIPRIT GrantRepresentatives of the second-largest funding source for cancer research in the country visited Houston Wednesday to pass out some large checks to area researchers.

Jimmy Mansour, chairman of the oversight board of the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas (CPRIT), and board member Charles Tate distributed huge checks of the non-negotiable, symbolic variety representing $35 million in CPRIT funding to five research institutions and two biotech companies.

"This is a wonderful day, not only for the City of Houston and the Texas Medical Center, but also for would-be victims of cancer across the country and even the world," Mansour said. CPRIT awarded funding for its first round of research grants and prevention programs earlier this year.

Research projects will focus on areas such as new cancer inhibitors, early detection efforts, stem cell studies, screening techniques, and all types of cancers including colorectal, breast, lung, pancreatic, colon, cervical, prostate, leukemia and lymphoma.

Created by a constitutional amendment passed by the Texas Legislature and approved by voters in 2007, CPRIT will invest $3 billion in cancer research over the next 10 years. "We expect to be back in Houston many more times in the next ten years," Mansour said.

Recipients Wednesday were M. D. Anderson; Baylor College of Medicine; Ingeneron Inc.; Methodist Hospital Research Institute; Rice University; The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston; and Visualase Inc.

Former CPRIT board member, current agency ambassador and past Rice University President Malcolm Gillis, Ph.D., presented M. D. Anderson's $12.7 million "check" to Provost and Executive Vice President Raymond DuBois, M.D., Ph.D., who praised the speed and efficiency of the new state agency. "CPRIT assembled an executive team, pulled together research committees and then got funding out in record time," DuBois said.

Executive Director William "Bill" Gimson and Chief Scientific Officer Al Gillman, M.D., Ph.D., were appointed in March and April of 2009.

"Texas' bold and decisive action is unparalleled by any other state in the country," Mansour said, noting CPRIT is second only to the National Cancer Institute in the funding of cancer research. The agency has kept overhead costs to 3% of its budget, a number that will continue to drop, Mansour said. CPRIT also assembled a group of 105 scientists to review grant applications, all of whom are from out of state.

The CPRIT web site has a complete list of all grants awarded.

M. D. Anderson awardees are:

Individual Investigator Awards

Christopher Amos, Ph.D., professor, Department of Epidemiology, "Effects from nicotinic receptor variations on smoking behaviors and lung cancer risk," $1,441,155.

Richard Davis, M.D., associate professor, Department of Lymphoma/Myeloma, "Self-antigen dependence of chronic active B-cell receptor signaling in the activated B-cell type of diffuse large B-cell lymphoma," $971,675.

Sharon Dent, Ph.D., professor, Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, "Regulation of Ash2L and MLL oncoproteins by PRMT-mediated methylation in normal cells and acute leukemias," $949,549.

Raymond DuBois, M.D., Ph.D., professor, Department of Gastrointestinal Medical Oncology, "Prostaglandins and inflammation in colorectal cancer," $1,198,243.

Guillermo Garcia-Manero, M.D., associate professor, Department of Leukemia, "Analysis of histone code alterations and the role of histone demethylase JMJD3 using CHIP-seq in myelodysplastic syndromes," $771,451.

Peter Gascoyne, Ph.D., professor, Department of Imaging Physics, "Antibody-free microfluidic isolation and molecular analysis of circulating cancer cells," $913,709.

Georg Halder, Ph.D., associate professor, Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, "Discovery and validation of novel cancer drug targets through synthetic lethal screening," $963,854.

Vicki Huff, Ph.D., professor, Department of Genetics, "Next generation genomic sequence identification of the 19q familial Wilms' tumor predisposition gene,"  $558,951.

Larry Kwak, M.D., Ph.D., professor and chair, Department of Lymphoma/Myeloma, "Translational development of novel lymphoma vaccine therapy," $842,104.

Guillermina Lozano, Ph.D., professor and chair, Department of Genetics, "A single nucleotide polymorphism in Mdm2 regulates p53 activity," $805,546.

Gordon Mills, M.D., Ph.D., professor and chair, Department of Systems Biology, "Mechanisms underlying delayed recurrence of ER positive breast cancer: a critical step in the development of effective biomarkers and therapies," $978,679.

Samuel Mok, Ph.D., professor, Department of Gynecologic Oncology, "Novel angiogenic factor in ovarian cancer microenvironment," $939,821.

Dihua Yu, M.D., Ph.D., professor, Department of Molecular and Cellular Oncology, "14-3-3zeta-induced microRNA deregulation in early stage breast cancer progression," $776,401

High-Impact, High-Risk Awards

Zhen Fan, M.D., associate professor, Department of Experimental Therapeutics, "Development of a novel anti-EGFR antibody-protamine recombinant protein for in vivo delivery of small interfering RNAs for cancer therapy," $200,000.

Garth Powis, D.Phil., professor and chair, Department of Experimental Therapeutics, "New treatments for mutant K-Ras: the elephant in the room of cancer therapy," $200,000.

Elizabeth Shpall, M.D., professor, Department of Stem Cell Transplantation and Cellular Therapy, "Cord blood natural killer cells for patients with cancer," $200,000.

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