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Texas Cancer Centers Get Millions in New CPRIT Grants

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – Several Texas biomedical science centers have received millions in new funding from the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas to support a wide range of studies, including 'omics-based projects, aimed at preventing, diagnosing, treating, and understanding cancer.

Under its most recent round of funding, totaling $114.7 million, CPRIT has awarded dozens of grants to fund multi-investigator awards that bring together researchers from various institutes, scholar residencies that attract researchers from out-of-state for specific projects, as well as cancer screening and prevention programs.

The biggest beneficiaries of the funding include the largest research centers in the state including Baylor College of Medicine ($16.2 million), the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas ($48.3 million), the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center ($13.7 million), and Rice University ($7.4 million), and 20 total institutes received awards under the new round of grants.

At Baylor College of Medicine, investigator Donald Parsons received a $1.5 million grant to identify and study actionable genetic mutations involved in soft-tissue sarcomas and Ewing sarcoma family tumors. Parsons' team will use computational tools to sort through genetic abnormalities in these types of tumors to identify those that drive sarcoma growth, and then will seek to detect the actionable mutations to enable physicians to target their treatments to the cancer's molecular profile.

Parsons also was awarded a $140,000 grant to establish an extensive database of sequence, expression, and copy number data that will be linked to demographic, clinical, and histologic data to support research into uncommon childhood tumors.

University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio investigator Yidong Chen will use a $253,000 award to study the genetics and biology of liver tumorigenesis in children, with the goal of determining new treatments and developing new markers for the most aggressive cases of the disease.

University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas investigator Zhi-Ping Liu was awarded a $6.3 million grant to study epigenetic mechanisms and therapeutic strategies for targeting prostate cancer.

Also at UT Southwestern Medical Center, investigator James Amatruda won a $1.7 million award to contribute to studies focused on actionable mutations in sarcoma genetic model systems, and investigator Jose Rizo-Rey received a $1.3 million grant to investigate the molecular and structural basis of epigenetic regulation.

UT Southwestern Medical Center also received $1.8 million to fund research at a proteomics core and $750,000 for studies at a biostatistics, bioinformatics, and database core.

At MD Anderson, investigator Ignacio Wistuba will use a $775,000 award to study the expression of nuclear receptors in breast and lung cancer tumors with the goal of developing tailored hormonal therapies that will be personalized and less toxic than chemotherapy.

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