TI-3D News and Events : State Cancer Institute Awards 1st Research Grants; UT Gets 3

By Corrie MacLaggan – American-Statesman Staff
Published: 10:23 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2010

Texas’ new cancer institute on Wednesday awarded its first round of research grants totaling $61 million to 15 institutions including the University of Texas at Austin.

The Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas was created through a constitutional amendment touted by cyclist Lance Armstrong and approved by Texas voters in 2007. The amendment authorizes $3 billion in bonds for cancer research and prevention over 10 years.

“There is no state in the country today and nowhere on the planet that is tackling cancer like Texas is,” state Rep. Patrick Rose, D-Dripping Springs , an author of the 2007 legislation that put the measure on the ballot, said at a news conference. “The benefit to Texans both to the public health and to our economy will be tremendous as a result of this, starting today.”

Sixty-six research projects were selected from 880 proposals. Recipients include two private companies — Houston-based InGeneron Inc. and Visualase Inc. — as well as the Methodist Hospital Research Institute and a dozen public and private academic institutions. Only Texas entities are eligible.

Among the grant recipients is Dr. Ralph DeBerardinis of the UT Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas, who will do research on how to slow the growth of an aggressive type of brain tumor that kills 14,000 Americans a year .

DeBerardinis received a type of grant designed for creative, unproven research ideas. The availability of such dollars “is really a game-changer” for cancer biologists and doctors, he said.

The UT-Austin grants, which total more than $3.3 million, will go to two projects by George Georgiou , a professor in biomedical engineering — one for a potential treatment for liver cancer and another for increasing the effectiveness of antibodies for cancer therapies — and one by Krishnendu Roy , an associate professor in biomedical engineering, for research on improving the ability of the body’s immune system to respond to cancer cells.

Gov. Rick Perry said in a statement that the ideas created through the investments “will bring us one step closer to finding a cure for this indiscriminate killer.”

In 2009, the Texas Legislature approved $450 million in bonds for two years. That’s short of the maximum $600 million in bonds they may approve for each of five two-year budget cycles.

“Next (legislative) session, our goal ought to be, and the reality ought to be, that we are fully funding this institute,” Rose said.

CPRIT Press Release

CPRIT Website