CPRIT awards faculty $19.6 million for research in cervical, breast, lung, colon, kidney, and pediatric cancers, and cancer biology

DALLAS – November 23, 2015 – The Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas (CPRIT) has awarded UT Southwestern Medical Center researchers more than $19.6 million in research grants to improve preventive, diagnostic, and therapeutic services relating to cervical, breast, lung, colon, kidney, and pediatric cancers, as well as to improve scientific understanding of cancer biology.

UT Southwestern earlier this fiscal year received an additional $2 million for recruiting emerging cancer scientists. The November awards bring the total awarded by CPRIT to UT Southwestern in fiscal year 2016 for cancer research, recruitment, and prevention efforts to $21.6 million. With the November awards, UT Southwestern researchers have been awarded a cumulative total of $316,333,768 by CPRIT since its inception. 

“This extraordinary support from CPRIT and the people of Texas continues to fund important and innovative research projects that bring us closer to improved treatments for cancer patients and more widespread prevention efforts for Texas and beyond,” said Dr. Daniel K. Podolsky, President of UT Southwestern, and holder of the Philip O’Bryan Montgomery, Jr., M.D. Distinguished Presidential Chair in Academic Administration, and the Doris and Bryan Wildenthal Distinguished Chair in Medical Science.

New research grants were awarded to 17 UT Southwestern researchers at the Harold C. Simmons Comprehensive Cancer Center as part of CPRIT’s Individual Investigator Research Awards.

“These awards deepen UT Southwestern’s capabilities to reduce the burden of cancer in Texas and among people everywhere. Most notable is the recognition by CPRIT of our training program, led by Dr. Michael White, as exceptional, and the $3.9 million award to train the next generation of cancer researchers,” said Dr. James Willson, Associate Dean of Oncology Programs at UT Southwestern, and Professor and Director of the Simmons Cancer Center, the only NCI-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center in North Texas and one of just 45 NCI-designated Comprehensive Cancer Centers in the nation. Dr. Willson holds The Lisa K. Simmons Distinguished Chair in Comprehensive Oncology.

Grants totaling $19,640,549 were awarded to the following principal investigators:

  • Dr. Michael White, Professor of Cell Biology, and holder of the Grant A. Dove Distinguished Chair for Research in Oncology, and The Sherry Wigley Crow Cancer Research Endowed Chair in Honor of Robert Lewis Kirby, M.D.: Cancer Intervention and Prevention Discoveries Program – $3,993,250;
  • Dr. Lee Kraus, Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology, and Pharmacology, and holder of the Cecil H. and Ida Green Distinguished Chair in Reproductive Biology Sciences: Two awards totaling $1.77 million: Role of Long Non-Coding RNAs in Breast Cancer: Identification and Characterization, and Determination of Molecular Functions – $886,652; Role of PARP-1 in Estrogen Receptor Enhancer Function and Gene Regulation Outcomes in Breast Cancer – $884,315;
  • Dr. David Gerber, Associate Professor of Internal Medicine: A Randomized Controlled Trial of Patient Navigation for Lung Cancer Screening in an Urban Safety-Net System – $1,492,616;
  • Dr. Joshua Mendell, Professor of Molecular Biology: DIS3L2 in Childhood Wilms Tumor: Mechanisms to Medicines – $1,200,000;
  • Dr. Ralph DeBerardinis, Associate Professor with the Children’s Medical Center Research Institute at UT Southwestern, the Eugene McDermott Center for Human Growth and Development, Chief of the Division of Pediatric Genetics and Metabolism, holder of the Joel B. Steinberg, M.D. Chair in Pediatrics, and a Sowell Family Scholar in Medical Research: Carbamoyl Phosphate Synthase-1: A New Metabolic Liability in Non-Small Cell Lung Cancers – $900,000;
  • Dr. Steve Jiang, Professor of Radiation Oncology, and holder of the Barbara Crittenden Professorship in Cancer Research: Pediatric Radiation Oncology with Movie-Induced Sedation Effect – $900,000;
  • Dr. Yi Liu, Professor of Physiology and a Louise W. Kahn Scholar in Biomedical Research: DNA Damage-Induced Small Non-Coding RNAs: Mechanism and Their Role in Cancer Development – $900,000;
  • Dr. Xuelian Luo, Associate Professor of Pharmacology and Biophysics: Structural and Functional Analysis of the Spindle Checkpoint – $900,000;
  • Dr. Jerry Shay, Professor of Cell Biology, and holder of The Southland Financial Corporation Distinguished Chair in Geriatrics: Development of Therapeutics Targeting Truncated Adenomatous Polyposis Coli (APC) as a Novel Prevention and Intervention Strategy for Colorectal Cancer – $900,000;
  • Dr. Lance Terada, Professor of Internal Medicine and Surgery, and holder of the Dr. Carey G. King, Jr. and Dr. Henry M. Winans, Sr. Chair in Internal Medicine: Targeting Metastatic Pathways – $900,000;
  • Dr. Elisabeth Martinez, Assistant Professor of Pharmacology: Characterization and Pharmacological Targeting of the Oncogenic Activity of Jumonji Enzymes – $899,997;
  • Dr. Thomas Carroll, Associate Professor of Internal Medicine and Molecular Biology: The Role of the Lats Kinases in Sarcomatoid Renal Cell Carcinoma – $899,598;
  • Dr. James Brugarolas, Associate Professor of Internal Medicine and Developmental Biology: Targeting the Undruggable: A First-in-Class Inhibitor of the HIF-2 Transcription Factor – $899,412;
  • Dr. Hasan Zaki, Assistant Professor of Pathology: Molecular Mechanism of NLRP12-Mediated Regulation of Colorectal Cancer – $897,707;
  • Dr. Hesham Sadek, Associate Professor of Internal Medicine, and holder of the J. Fred Schoellkopf, Jr. Chair in Cardiology: Effect of Chest Radiation Therapy on Cardiomyocyte Turnover– $897,570;
  • Dr. Diego Castrillon, Associate Professor of Pathology, and holder of the Vernie A. Stembridge, M.D., Distinguished Chair in Pathology: Novel Tumorigenic Mechanisms of the LKB1 Tumor Suppressor in Endometrial and Cervical Cancer – $896,653;
  • Dr. Gaudenz Danuser, Chairman of the Lyda Hill Department of Bioinformatics, and holder of the Patrick E. Haggerty Distinguished Chair in Basic Biomedical Science: Computational Live Cell Histology – $392,779;

The CPRIT grants awarded to UT Southwestern faculty members are among 73 new grants totaling approximately $112 million announced Nov. 19. CPRIT is nearing the halfway point of its funding authority. To date, the agency has awarded 992 grants totaling around $1.47 billion. Counting the latest round of grants, CPRIT has funded the recruitment of more than 100 top cancer researchers to Texas institutions.

The Harold C. Simmons Comprehensive Cancer Center is the only NCI-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center in North Texas and one of just 45 NCI-designated Comprehensive Cancer Centers in the nation. The Simmons Cancer Center includes 13 major cancer care programs with a focus on treating the whole patient with innovative treatments, while fostering groundbreaking basic research that has the potential to improve patient care and prevention of cancer worldwide. In addition, the Center’s education and training programs support and develop the next generation of cancer researchers and clinicians.

The Simmons Cancer Center is among only 30 U.S. cancer research centers to be named a National Clinical Trials Network Lead Academic Participating Site, a prestigious new designation by the NCI, and the only cancer center in North Texas to be so designated. The designation and associated funding is designed to bolster the cancer center’s clinical cancer research for adults and to provide patients access to cancer research trials sponsored by the NCI, where promising new drugs often are tested. 

About the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas

Beginning operations in 2009, CPRIT has to date awarded $1.47 billion in grants to Texas researchers, institutions and organizations. CPRIT provides funding through its academic research, prevention, and product development research programs. Programs made possible with CPRIT funding have reached all 254 counties of the state, brought more than 100 distinguished researchers to Texas, advanced scientific and clinical knowledge, and provided more than 2.6 million life-saving education, training, prevention and early detection services to Texans. Learn more at cprit.texas.gov.


Media Contact: Lori Sundeen-Soderbergh

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