Recently UTSA attracted considerable funding with researchers being awarded grants adding up more than $3 million to support projects to improve our knowledge on cancer and their mission on pursuing for new therapies.
Last December, UTSA and the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio (UTHSCA) received together $1.9 million from the Cancer Prevention & Research Institute of Texas (CPRIT) to support the innovative project called “Druggable Targets That Regulate the Antitumor Activity of ER-beta” by Stanton McHardy and Rong Li for the elucidation of novel breast cancer therapies. Both researchers jointly have been performing research on new breast cancer treatments based on strategies to activate the estrogen receptor (ER) beta, which can inhibit tumor growth.
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) awarded $1.08 million to professors Yufei Huang and Jianqiu (Michelle) Zhang to elucidate a new mechanism of cancer development by studying mRNA methylation mechanisms. They are performing these studies together with Manjeet K. Rao, a RNA biology expert, and bioinformatician Yidong Chen of UTHSCSA to apply and combine computational modeling with biological information to increase the knowledge on how breast cells become cancerous.
During chemotherapy and radiation, infertility has to be taken into account since it is an unavoidable and relevant side effect. Infertility is even more important in the case of boys before puberty that are unable to produce sperm and do not have the option of preserving their fertility by storing their sperm before radiation and chemotherapy. Professor Brian Hermann has shown the possibility of removing testicular stem cells from a primate before chemotherapy, freeze them and, after the therapies, transplant these cells to restart sperm production and restore fertility. Professor Brian Hermann and colleagues at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine Magee-Women’s Research Institute (MWRI) are now developing a promising technique to overcome this relevant issue.
Professor Sos Agaian, specialized in signal and image processing, has been conducting research to achieve image improvement for use in computer-aided cancer detection.
Professor Yusheng Feng is focused on simulating cancer therapies and consequences, modeling tumor growth and developing image-guided real-time surgical simulations.
UTSA has been contributing to the fight against cancer with relevant work in social sciences, religion and communications. Professor Corey Sparks will analyze U.S. Census and cancer incidence data to identify cancer “hot spots” in the South Texas region, which may enable to draw correlations of several factors including race, gender and environment with cancer. Christopher Ellison is studying the implications of religiousness and spirituality for mental and physical health and mortality risk as well as been interested in addressing if cancer diagnosis may influence the religiosity of an individual. Also, Professor Kimberly Kline has been focused on cultural sensitivity in health promotion, evaluating breast cancer education brochures conceived for African American women.
On the social/community service side, the UTSA student organization has been organizing For The Kids (FTK) fundraisers to support the families of local children fighting cancer. Until now, FTK has raised more than $130,000. Adding to these initiatives, FTK students normally spend time with the children at the hospital and organize events to increase consciousness for the several problems of San Antonio families that are dealing with pediatric cancer.
UTSA is becoming known for outstanding research, quality education and economic contributions to the region and is on the track of being a promising Tier One research institution.