Dan L Duncan Comprehensive Cancer Center
Dan L Duncan Comprehensive Cancer Center

Three Baylor College of Medicine researchers, all members of the Dan L Duncan Comprehensive Cancer Center at Baylor, have been awarded academic research program grants from the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas (CPRIT).

A $5,999,997 grant was awarded to Dr. Martin Matzuk, professor of pathology & immunology and director of the Center for Drug Discovery at Baylor, for his program titled Preclinical Candidate Discovery Core. He received one out of four grants through the Core Facility Support Awards, which help establish and enhance research facilities to bolster scientifically meritorious cancer research projects.

“Our CPRIT Preclinical Candidate Discovery Core will supply Texas cancer researchers and physicians with novel compounds to study cancer pathways in the laboratory and preclinical drug-like molecules to advance to clinical evaluation in cancer patients. Progress in the development of this Core has been a team effort led by Drs. Hongbing Huang, Nicholas Simmons, William Sonnenburg, Damian Young and other scientists in Baylor’s Center for Drug Discovery,” said Matzuk.

Dr. Laising Yen, assistant professor of pathology at Baylor, was awarded a $200,000 grant for his project titled Pap Smear for Ovarian Cancer. Dr. Thomas Westbrook, assistant professor of biochemistry at Baylor, was awarded a grant of the same amount for his project titled RNA Processing Stress. Both are grants from the High Impact, High Risk Awards, which contribute to major new insights and ideas into the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of cancer. Yen and Westbrook are among the 21 grants awarded across Texas.

“These high-impact grants allow scientists to investigate novel ideas that if proven correct will have significant benefits to patients with cancer in the future,” said Dr. Kent Osborne, professor and director of the Duncan Cancer Center.

The mission of CPRIT is to reduce the burden of cancer in Texas and elsewhere. To date, CPRIT has awarded 1,033 grants totaling more than $1.57 billion. The agency was launched in 2009 after Texas voters overwhelmingly approved a 2007 bond issue committing $3 billion to the fight against cancer.