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UT Southwestern Cancer Research Gets $28 Million Booster Shot

April 02, 2018 - Dallas Morning News

Texas' cancer-fighting agency is pumping $27.8 million into research of breast, prostate, brain and other forms of cancers in North Texas, as well as creation of lung and liver cancer screening programs in underserved areas.

More than a dozen UT Southwestern researchers received grants in the latest round of funding from the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas. Voters approved a constitutional amendment in 2007 to create a $3 billion cancer-fighting fund.

UTSW received the largest portion of the $73.5 million doled out. M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, considered one of the nation's top treatment centers, pulled in more than $22 million in grants.

"UT Southwestern cancer researchers are continually seeking better ways to diagnose and treat cancer, and these grants propel this important work forward," said Dr. Carlos L. Arteaga, director of UTSW's Harold C. Simmons Comprehensive Cancer Center, in a prepared statement.

UTSW will use $8 million to recruit star researchers from out of state or create tenure-track faculty positions to keep them here. Simmons Cancer Center is one of the National Cancer Insitute's 30 research centers designated to lead clinical trials. Researchers being recruited are:

  • Dr. Yujin Hoshida from the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York($4 million).
  • Dr. Wen Jiang from M.D. Anderson Cancer Center ($2 million).
  • Zhenyu Zhong from the University of California, San Diego ($2 million).

CPRIT grants also will fund a lung cancer screening and tobacco-cessation program at Moncrief Cancer Institute in Fort Worth, which serves Tarrant and 35 other counties, and a mobile screening initiative for liver cancer. Texas has one of the highest liver cancer rates in the nation.

But most of the money will go toward academic research. Among the main areas being studied by UTSW researchers are:

Breast cancer: $2.397 million

Dr. Vlad Zaha, an assistant professor of internal medicine, will study methods for early detection of heart disease resulting from a chemotherapy drug commonly used to treat breast cancer. 

Kidney cancer: $2 million

Two grants were awarded to Dr. James Brugarolas, director of UTSW's kidney cancer program and a professor of internal medicine, to focus on kidney cancers affecting adults and adolescents. 

Brain cancer: $1.2 million

Dr. Robert Bachoo, an associate professor of neurology and neurotherapeutics, will study one of the most challenging tumors to treat: pediatric brain cancer. 

Blood cancer: $1.2 million

Dr. Stephen Skapek, chief of pediatric hematology-oncology, will study the most common soft tissue cancer in children. Only about 1 in 5 children survive for three years, and this poor outlook has not improved despite many attempts to intensify chemotherapy and use new agents. 

UTSW has received $338 million from CPRIT. In all, the agency has awarded $1.95 billion. These Texas institutions received more than $1 million in this funding round:

  • UT Southwestern: $27,827,022
  • M.D. Anderson Cancer Center: $22,283,004
  • UT Health Science Center at Houston: $4 million
  • Texas Tech University: $3,849,260
  • Texas A&M University: $3,596,596
  • Baylor College of Medicine: $3,568,639
  • UT-Austin: $3,102,048
  • University of Houston: $1,985,037
  • Methodist Hospital Research Institute: $1,199,617
 

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