Executives from the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas (CPRIT) announced the institute’s plans, progress, and future goals midway through its first year as a reformed organization at an in-depth informational event held at the Houston Technology Center (HTC) on July 10th, 2014. CPRIT has committed $300 million in funding resources for this year and believes that the cure for cancer is close.
“Will we cure cancer? I think we will,” said the CPRIT’s Chief Executive Officer, Wayne Roberts. “I think we will do it in bits and pieces.” Roberts explained that this year the institute has planned to use $300 million of the $3 billion in public funding to support cancer research projects, including recruiting top cancer scientists and researchers.
Among the various grants awarded by the organization, the Individual Investigator Research Awards have been the most popular, with 315 of them having been awarded to date, totaling almost $500 million. Chief Scientific Officer, Dr. Margaret L. Kripke, stated that the institute expects to make new discoveries through its funded research that can translate into new practices for cancer research and treatment, increasing the prominence of Texas in the fight against cancer.
CPRIT’s Product Development Program fosters economic development in the state of Texas, including the creation of high-profile biotech and life sciences jobs related to cancer research and development. The program will now be redirected to Texas talent and opportunities, coupled with an emphasis on the early stages where the institute believes there is a funding gap.
Comprised of Early Translational Research Grant Awards, New Company Product Development Awards, Established Company Product Development Awards, and Company Relocation Product Development Awards, CPRIT’s aggressive approach to funding cancer prevention and research offers a direct return on the investments made by the people of Texas through intellectual property and revenue sharing, according to CPRIT’s Chief Product Development Officer, Dr. Thomas C. Goodman.
The Chief Prevention and Communications Officer, Dr. Rebecca Garcia, also noted CPRIT’s intention to reach all parts of the state, and especially those that have the greatest unmet needs. Through primary, secondary, and tertiary prevention interventions, the institute expects to reach as many people as possible. The Program for Prevention has awarded 115 prevention grants, totaling over $96 million and serving 1.3 million Texans.
Dr. Roberts encouraged researchers to apply for CPRIT awards and described the in-depth peer review process of CPRIT. “We have the most rigorous peer review process in the country,” including seven different peer review committees, explained Roberts, as he encouraged those that have previously applied but did not get funded to try again.
The institute has recently made a substantial investment into researching pediatric cancer projects for the first time, in collaboration with the Carson Leslie Foundation. The Individual Investigator Research Awards for Cancer in Children and Adolescents will provide researchers with $500,000 in funding for a period of up to four years, and will be granted to Texas-based not-for-profit institutions or organizations that conduct laboratory, clinical, or, population-based studies. The closing application date was on June 26th, and the winners will be announced later this year.