AUSTIN – The Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas (CPRIT) today awarded 48 new grants totaling more than $93 million towards advancing the fight against cancer. Forty-six grants were made through CPRIT’s academic research program, and two grants were made through CPRIT’s product development research program.

“The awards announced today reflect CPRIT’s effort to grow the cancer-fighting ecosystem at our institutions of higher education and the Texas-based life sciences industry,” said Wayne Roberts, CPRIT chief executive officer, “We continue to maintain our momentum in attracting the world’s best minds in cancer research to Texas.”

Forty-four grants, totaling $53 million, will go to support academic research in childhood cancer, computational biology, early translational research, prevention and early detection, and training. The CPRIT Scholars recruitment grants, totaling $8 million, include the recruitment of an established investigator and one first-time, tenure-track faculty member to Texas academic institutions. CPRIT also awarded two product development research grants, totaling $32 million, to Bellicum Pharmaceuticals, Inc. and Molecular Templates, Inc. to develop blood cancer treatments in children and adults.

About the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas

To date, CPRIT has awarded $1.67 billion in grants to Texas researchers, institutions and organizations. The agency began making awards in 2009 after Texas voters overwhelmingly approved a 2007 constitutional amendment committing $3 billion to the fight against cancer. 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 129 distinguished researchers to Texas, advanced scientific and clinical knowledge, and provided more than 3.22 million life-saving education, training, prevention and early detection services to Texans. Learn more at, and follow CPRIT at and


Early Translational Research Awards - 4 grants totaling $3,974,486

  • The University of Texas at Austin
    • Ambient Mass Spectrometry for Preoperative Molecular Diagnosis of Thyroid Fine Needle Aspirate Biopsies (Livia Schiavinato Eberlin) – $983,586
  • The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston
    • Discovery of antibody-drug conjugates targeting a receptor broadly expressed in solid tumors(Qingyun Liu) – $1,000,000
  • The Methodist Hospital Research Institute
    • Identification of novel immune targets and neoantigens for development of immunotherapy for breast cancer (Rongfu Wang) – $999,995
  • The University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center
    • Oncolytic Immunotherapy for Gliomas and Cancer Metastases in the Era of Checkpoint Regulation (Juan Fueyo) – $990,905

Individual Investigator Awards - 20 grants totaling $17,892,210

  • Baylor College of Medicine
    • Preclinical Analyses of NAD Kinase as a Redox Vulnerability for the Treatment of Pancreatic Cancer (Kenneth Scott) – $875,757
  • The Methodist Hospital Research Institute   
    • Targeting the Inflammatory Cancer Stem Cell Microenvironment of Triple Negative Breast Cancer with Leukocyte-mimetic Nanovesicles (Ennio Tasciotti) – $896,951
  • Texas A&M University System Health Science Center
    • Targeting a Growth and Survival Pathway in Bone Tumor Cells (Carl Gregory) – $864,971
  • The University of Texas at Arlington
    • Super-resolution imaging of tumor angiogenesis in deep tissue with high specificity and sensitivity (Baohong Yuan) – $900,000
  • The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston
    • K-ras Spatiotemporal Dynamics: Novel Therapeutic Targets (John Hancock) – $900,000
    • A novel GRK3-EZH2 regulatory pathway in prostate cancer progression (Wenliang Li) – $900,000
  • The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio
    • B cell receptor signaling intersects with angiogenesis in diffuse large B cell lymphoma (Ricardo Aguiar) – $900,000
    • A Novel Pathway to Reduce BRCA1-Associated Breast Cancer Risk (Yanfen Hu) – $900,000
  • The University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center
    • Biodegradable nanoclusters for molecular cancer imaging (Konstantin Sokolov) – $899,553
    • Targeting The Glycolysis Pathway To Overcome Resistance To Cancer Immunotherapy (Patrick Hwu) – $900,000
    • Identifying vulnerabilities in mutant p53 driven tumorigenesis (Guillermina Lozano) – $869,197
    • Exploiting DNA repair defects using intensity modulated proton therapy (Gabriel Sawakuchi) – $899,889
    • Elimination of hypoxia sensitizes resistant solid tumors to immunotherapy (Michael Curran) – $899,993
    • Regulation of 53BP1 by novel 53BP1-binding proteins in DNA repair (Junjie Chen) $900,000
    • Palbociclib synergizes with autophagy inhibitors to induce senescence in breast cancer (Khandan Keyomarsi) – $900,000
    • Biomarker-based treatment of poor prognostic mesenchymal subtype in gastric cancer – (Ju-Seog Lee) – $893,875
    • Optimizing Chemoradiation Strategies by Tumor Metabolism Interrogation (Stephen  Lai) – $899,996
    • Developing Effective Immunotherapeutic Strategies for Advanced Uveal Melanoma (Scott Woodman) – $899,507
  • The University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center
    • Mechanisms of melanoma metastasis (Sean Morrison) – $892,521
    • Primary Cilia in Cell Cycle Control and Tumorigenesis (Qing Zhong) – $900,000

Individual Investigator Research Awards for Cancer in Children and Adolescents Awards 7 grants totaling $8,035,738

  • Baylor College of Medicine
    • Molecular Epidemiology And Somatic Alterations Driving Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia In Down Syndrome (Karen Rabin) – $1,200,000
    • High throughput combinatory drug screening for pediatric medulloblastomas with a dysregulated EZH2 pathway (Xiao-Nan Li) – $1,198,726
    • Mechanisms of Notch Dysregulation in Pediatric Osteosarcoma (Brendan Lee) – $1,110,480
  • Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center
    • BBB-penetrating redox-responsive smart drugs and exploiting the MGMT-driven S-phase checkpoint for chemotherapy of childhood brain cancers (Kalkunte Srivenugopal) – $1,173,149
    • OCT4/c-MYC axis as a mechanism of resistance to 13-cis retinoic acid in neuroblastoma (Min Kang) – $1,125,638
    • Telomere Maintenance Mechanisms in Neuroblastoma (Charles Reynolds) – $1,058,246
  • The University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center
    • Targeting the HNF4A and WNT/Beta-catenin pathways in childhood malignant yolk sac tumors (James Amatruda)  – $1,169,499

Individual Investigator Research Awards for Computational Biology Award – 3 grants totaling $2,634,668

  • Baylor College of Medicine
    • Development and Validation of a Network-guided, Multi-objective Optimization Model for Cancer Data Analysis (Zhandong Liu) – $889,679
  • Texas A&M Engineering Experiment Station
    • Effective Exploitation Of Structural Data For Oncology (Thomas Ioerger) – $900,000
  • The University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center
    • Prediction of nuclear export signals in proteins (Nick Grishin) – $844,989

Individual Investigator Research Awards for Prevention and Early Detection Award – 5 grants totaling $5,819,500.00

  • Baylor College of Medicine
    • Developing Effective Epigenetic Biomarkers to Identify Individuals with High Risk of Cancer (Robert Waterland, PI; Cristian Coarfa, Co-PI) – $1,052,089.00
    • Genetic Epidemiology and Molecular Basis of Cancer Predisposition in Pediatric Rhabdomyosarcoma (Philip Lupo) – $1,488,105
  • Rice University
    • Structural modeling of peptide-HLA complexes presenting a melanoma-associated antigen for cross-reactivity assessment (Lydia Kavraki) – $900,000
  • The University of Texas at Austin
    • Exercise as an aid to smoking cessation in anxiety vulnerable adults (Jasper Smits) – $891,623
  • The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston
    • For Our Children: A tailored multi-level intervention for parents and healthcare providers to increase HPV vaccination rates (MariaFernandez) – $1,487,683

Research Training Awards– 5 grants totaling $14,866,638

  • The University of North Texas Health Science Center at Fort Worth
    • Osteopathic Scholars in Cancer Research (OSCR)(Jamboor Vishwanath) – $799,055
  • The University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center
    • The Future of Cancer Research: Training Program for Basic and Translational Scientists (Khandan Keyomarsi) – $4,000,000
    • CPRIT Cancer Prevention Research Training Program (Shine Chang) – $2,071,403
  • The University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston
    • Computational Cancer Biology Training Program (B. Montgomery Pettitt) – $3,999,285
  • The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio
    • UTHSCSA Cancer Research Training Program (Babatunde Oyajobi) – $3,996,895

Recruitment of Established Investigators**

  • Maura Gillison, Recruitment to the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center from Ohio State University  – $6,000,000

Recruitment of First-Time, Tenure-Track Faculty Members**

  • Srinivas Malladi, Recruitment to the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center from Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center – $2,000,000

**Recruitment grants awarded indicate only approval to negotiate offers; at the time of release candidates have not accepted offers.


New Company Product Development – 2 grants totaling $32,146,716

  • Bellicum Pharmaceuticals, Inc., Clinical Evaluation of a Novel T Cell Therapy (BPX-501) for the Treatment of Children and Adults with AML  – $16,946,716
    • This project supports therapies that will treat adults and children with a very serious form of leukemia called AML, who have failed conventional therapy and have little chance for a cure.
  • Molecular Templates, Inc., A Novel Compound Targeting CD38 for Treatment of Multiple Myeloma – $15,200,000
    • This project supports the development of an improved drug for treating patients with multiple myeloma.