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GEN News Highlights : Mar 28, 2011

Texas’ CPRIT Awards $116M for Cancer Projects and Faculty Recruitment

UT Southwestern received the most funding of any individual institution, with more than $30 million.

The Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas (CPRIT) awarded $116 million for 22 innovative cancer research and commercialization projects at 16 Texas-based institutions and private companies. The grants, including $6 million toward the recruitment of five researchers to Texas, are part of a total $216 million expected to be awarded by CPRIT this year to support cancer research, drug development, and evidence-based cancer screening efforts in Texas.

UT Southwestern received the most funding of any individual Texas institution in CPRIT's latest round of grants. Funding for UT Southwestern included more than $30 million to support projects involving 20 researchers.

Among the projects were new imaging technology and techniques for identifying and tracking cancers; repairing damaged DNA strands; developing new drugs and drug delivery systems; and establishing a Texas Cancer Cell Repository for storing cancer cells and tumors for future study.

CPRIT also approved CPRIT Scholars in Cancer Research recruitment grants bringing scientists from institutions outside of the state to faculty positions at Texas universities. Other key initiatives included collaborative projects targeting various cancers including prostate, breast, ovarian, lung, and colorectal cancers.

In addition, CPRIT awarded a $5.7 million company commercialization award to Bellicum Pharmaceuticals to fund personnel hiring, manufacturing, and clinical testing of CaspaCIDe™ in graft versus host disease (GvHD). The award to Bellicum will also support the execution of a Phase I/II randomized, double-blind trial of CaspaCIDe DLI in patients with high-risk hematologic malignancies undergoning hematopoietic stem cell transplantation. Bellicum also plans to create 30 new jobs over the next two years, growing its workforce to 40.