CPRIT recently made headlines with a major funding announcement, meting out $86 million dollars in new funding to both business and researchers. On the academic and research side of the new grants, most of the top academic research institutions in Texas were part of the funding announcement, which included 17 different grants in total. Among them, CPRIT awarded a sizable grant to young scientists at The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio.
Yesterday, CPRIT announced a $1.6 million grant to support training programs at UTHSCSA, as well as another grant to continue important diagnostic research at the institution. The program, which was originally slated to be a three-year, $2.4 million grant awarded to help train M.D. and Ph.D. fellows, graduate students and undergraduates at the school, is now being extended for another two years, according to Babatunde Oyajobi, Ph.D., principal investigator on the research training award and director of education in the Department of Cellular and Structural Biology in the School of Medicine at the UT Health Science Center.
Dr. Oyajobi explained that the end goal of this funding has always been a long-term effort to encourage the students to pursue science and research at the college level: “We want to spark an interest in science in young people and to recruit and train young scientists in innovative basic and translational cancer research.”
Also part of the grant extension is the institution’s multi-institutional grant for the Texas Cancer Diagnostics Pipeline Consortium. Headed by Ian M. Thompson Jr., M.D., the director of the CTRC, and Spencer Redding, D.D.S., M.Ed., chairman of the Department of Comprehensive Dentistry in the Dental School, the school is working alongside other Texas institutions in the development of nano-sized biomarker technology (aka “lab on a chip”) in order to better diagnose serious cancers such prostate, oral and ovarian cancers, in their early stages, which in turn lead to better outcomes. The $3.9 million grant is headed by researchers at Rice University. The UT Health Science Center at Houston and the MD Anderson Cancer Center are also directly involved in the project as well, making it a truly Texas-based initiative. “This nanotechnology has the potential to be more portable and less invasive than current diagnostic methods,” said Dr. Redding.
Dr. Thompson noted that the CPRIT funding couldn’t have come at a better time: “This timely infusion from CPRIT is extremely important for our National Cancer Institute-designated Cancer Center.”