Researcher with petri dish and microscope

(AUSTIN) — The Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas (CPRIT) today awarded 55 new grants totaling over $78 million consisting of 41 academic research grant awards, 10 prevention awards, and 4 product development research awards. 

“These awards reflect CPRIT's established priorities to invest in childhood cancer research, address population and geographic disparities, and recruit top cancer research talent to our academic institutions,” said Wayne Roberts, CPRIT Chief Executive Officer. “I'm excited about all the awardees, particularly those in San Antonio, a region that continues expand their cancer research and prevention prowess. San Antonio is poised to have an even greater impact across the Texas cancer-fighting ecosystem.”

Childhood cancer projects represent seven percent of today's academic research awards. One promising award includes research with potential to have a major impact on developing new targeted therapies for rhabdomyosarcoma (RMS), a soft tissue tumor in children and adolescents by renowned muscle disease researcher Eric Olson, PhD at The University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center (UT Southwestern). The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio (UT Health San Antonio) will lead a study to better understand osteosarcoma growth and metastasis for developing more potent and less toxic therapeutics. In total, almost $5 million were awarded for childhood cancer projects across four different institutions. To learn more about CPRIT's commitment to address childhood cancer, please visit

Four Seed Awards approved should assist new companies introduce disruptive technologies to the market. One award that illustrates how CPRIT develops ideas from basic research into product development is to Barricade Therapeutics, which aims to bring the therapeutic TASIN into clinical trials to address colorectal cancer (CRC). Research supported by three prior CPRIT awards to Jerry Shay, PhD at UT Southwestern, identified a class of specific drugs for CRC, referred to as TASINs, that inhibit a mutated gene present in greater than 80 percent of CRC patients.

Three tobacco cessation-related grants target high-risk populations. An academic research clinical studies grant to the University of Houston (UH) will explore why modern smoking cessation methods are ineffective on those with emotional disorders to improve success rates to these at-risk individuals. UH will also receive a second dissemination prevention grant to support "Taking Texas Tobacco Free," a statewide CPRIT-funded program which targets underserved populations with higher rates of tobacco use. San Antonio's University Health System receives a tobacco cessation grant to address the high rate of tobacco use among those living with HIV/AIDS in Bexar County. A prevention grant to The University of Texas at Austin will train providers on the importance of identifying patients with unhealthy alcohol use and its role in cancer prevention. Several established CPRIT prevention programs that address various cancers among underserved populations are expanded at UH, the Moncrief Cancer Institute at UT Southwestern, Texas A&M University System Health Science Center, Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center at El Paso, and The University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston.

San Antonio institutions continue to attract world-class cancer researchers. An Established Investigator award will bring a world-leading expert in synthetic organic chemistry, chemical biology, and translational science to The University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA) to lead their cancer drug discovery initiatives. A Rising Star award will bring an accomplished structural biologist to introduce cryo-electron microscopy to UT Health San Antonio's growing structural biology program. The research of both recruits is supported by the CPRIT-funded Center for Innovative Drug Discovery (CIDD) at UTSA and UT Health San Antonio to deepen collaboration within The University of Texas System. In addition, three First-Time, Tenure-Track Faculty Member grants are made to recruit promising young researchers to Rice University, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, and UT Southwestern.

CPRIT recently celebrated the recruitment of 200 CPRIT Scholars to Texas. To learn more about CPRIT Scholars at Texas institutions and the vital contribution they make to cancer research, please visit

See the attached list for all grants awarded.

About the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas

To date, CPRIT has awarded $2.49 billion in grants to Texas research institutions and organizations through its academic research, prevention, and product development research programs. CPRIT has recruited 200 distinguished researchers, supported the establishment, expansion or relocation of 40 companies to Texas, and generated over $4.7 billion in additional public and private investment. CPRIT funding has advanced scientific and clinical knowledge and provided 6.2 million life-saving cancer prevention and early detection services reaching Texans from all 254 counties. On November 5, 2019, Texas voters overwhelmingly approved a constitutional amendment to provide an additional $3 billion to CPRIT for a total $6 billion investment in cancer research and prevention.

Learn more at Follow CPRIT on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.


Individual Investigator Awards - Twenty eight grants totaling $25,183,569

Baylor College of Medicine

  • Targeting AKT signaling in MAPK4-high Triple Negative Breast Cancer (Feng Yang) - $900,000
  • Spatial Profiling of Tumor-Immune Microenvironment by Multiplexed Single- Cell Imaging Mass Cytometry (Hyun-Sung Lee) - $897,527
  • Targeting Endothelial Transcriptional Networks in GBM (Joshua Wythe) - $899,847

Texas A&M Engineering Experiment Station

  • Noninvasive Imaging and Quantification of the Cancer Mechanical Microenvironment to Monitor Cancer Progression and Predict Cancer Treatments (Raffaella Righetti) - $900,000

Texas A&M University System Health Science Center

  • Nucleostemin: A New Tumor Addictive Mechanism, Outcome Predictor, and Therapeutic Target for Hepatocellular Carcinoma (Robert Tsai) - $900,000

The University of Texas at Dallas

  • Optimizing Therapeutic Strategies Against Lung Cancer Using Multimodality Imaging (Li Zhang) - $900,000
  • Advance CT And Fluorescence Imaging Of Kidney Cancers With Glutathione-mediated Contrast Enhancements (Jie Zheng) - $900,000

The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston

  • Can Microsurgeries Cure Lymphedema? An Objective Assessment (Melissa Aldrich) - $900,000
  • KRAS Spatiotemporal Dynamics: Novel Therapeutic Targets (John Hancock) - $900,000
  • Targeting Multiple Myeloma Stem Cell Niche (Nami McCarty) - $900,000

The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center

  • Artificial Intelligence for the Peer Review of Radiation Therapy Treatments (Laurence Court) - $900,000
  • Targeting MEK in EGFR-Amplified Glioblastoma (John deGroot) - $900,000
  • Investigating the Role ofCD38 as a Mechanism of Acquired Resistance to Immune Checkpoint Inhibitors in Lung Cancer (Don Gibbons) - $900,000
  • Molecular Features Impacting Drug Resistance in Atypical EGFR Exon 18 and Exon 20 Mutant NSCLC and the Development of Novel Mutant- Selective Inhibitors (John Heymach) - $900,000
  • Development of a Novel Strategy for Tumor Delivery of MHC-I-Compatible Peptides for Cancer Immunotherapy (Zhen Fan) - $900,000
  • Off the shelf, Cord-Derived iNK T cells Engineered to Prevent GVHD and Relapse After Hematopoietic Stem Cell Transplantation (Jin Seon Im) - $900,000
  • CRAD Tumor Suppressor and Mucinous Adenocarcinoma (Jae-il Park) - $900,000
  • Single-Cell Evaluation to Identify Tumor-stroma Niches Driving the Transition from In Situ to Invasive Breast Cancer (Helen Piwnica-Worms) - $900,000
  • Heterogeneity of Enhancer Patterns in Colorectal Cancers- Mechanisms and Therapy (Kunal Rai) - $898,872
  • Elucidating Aberrant Splicing-Induced Immune Pathway Activation in RBMl0-Deficient KRAS-Mutant NSCLC and Harnessing Its Potential for Precision Immunotherapy (Ferdinandos Skoulidis) - $900,000
  • High-Sensitivity 19F MRI for Clinically Translatable Imaging of Adoptive NK Cell Brain Tumor Therapy (Konstantin Sokolov) - $887,713
  • Adipocyte-Producing Noncoding RNA Promotes Liver Cancer Immunoresistance (Liuqing Yang) - $900,000

The University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center

  • Clinical MR Spectroscopy Development of Malignancy Biomarkers in Gliomas (Changho Choi) - $899,651
  • SREBP-2- Dependent Oncometabolites and Intestinal Tumorigenesis (Luke Engelking) - $900,000
  • Tumor-Secreted LIF Activates a Cytokine-Adipose-Hypothalamic Axis to Induce Cancer Cachexia (Rodney Infante) - $900,000
  • Role of CMPK2 in Liver Inflammation and Hepatocellular Carcinoma (Shuang Liang) - $900,000
  • PPAR-Alpha Modulation of DNA Sensing and Interferon Induction (Tiffany Reese) - $900,000
  • Molecular Mechanism of NLRP12-Mediated Regulation of Colorectal Cancer (Hasan Zaki) - $899,959

Individual Investigator Awards for Cancer in Children and Adolescents - Four grants totaling $4,977,911

Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center

  • GD2 Expression and Response to Chemoimmunotherapy in Neuroblastoma (Charles Reynolds) - $1,196, 214

The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio

  • ALKBH5 as a Novel Promoter of Osteosarcoma Growth and Metastasis (Manjeet Rao) - $1,200,000

The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center

  • Doxorubicin-Induced Cardiotoxicity: Defining Blood and Echocardiogram Biomarkers in a Mouse Model and AYA Sarcoma Patients for Evaluating Exercise Interventions (Eugenie Kleinerman) - $1,444,593

The University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center

  • Targeting Twist2 Pathway as a Potential Therapy of Rhabdomvosarcoma (Eric Olson) - $1,137,104

Individual Investigator Research Awards for Clinical Translation - Three grants totaling $5,667,103

The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center

  • Circulating Tumor DNA- Defined Minimal Residual Disease in Colorectal Cancer (Arvind Dasari) - $2,399,998
  • Targeting Alterations of the NOTCH! Pathway in Head and Neck Squamous Cell Carcinoma (HNSCC)(Faye Johnson) - $1,200,000
  • Modulating the Gut- Tumor Microbial Axis to Reverse Pancreatic Cancer Immunosuooression (Florencia McAllister) - $2,067,105

Individual Investigator Research Awards for Prevention and Early Detection - One grant totaling $890,502

University of Houston

  • Transdiagnostic Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Smokers With Anxiety and Depression (Matthew Gallagher) - $890,502

Recruitment of Established Investigators Awards* - One grant totaling $6,000,000

  • Karl Scheidt, PhD, Recruitment to The University of Texas at San Antonio from Northwestern University - $6,000,000

Recruitment of Rising Stars Awards* - One grant totaling $4,000,000

  • Shaun Olsen, PhD, Recruitment to The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio from the Medical University of South Carolina - $4,000,000

Recruitment of First-Time, Tenure-Track Faculty Members Awards* - Three grants totaling $6,000,000

  • Adam Durbin, MD, PhD, Recruitment to The University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center from the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute - $2,000,000
  • Anna-Karin Gustavsson, PhD, Recruitment to Rice University from Stanford University - $2,000,000
  • Eric Smith, MD, PhD, Recruitment to The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer 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.


Tobacco Control and Lung Cancer Screening Awards - One grant totaling $973,809

University Health System

  • Bexar County's Navigation to Cessation (N2C)(Anthony Scott) - $973,809

Expansion of Cancer Prevention Services to Rural and Medically Underserved Populations - Five grants totaling $9,938,016

Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center at El Paso

  • De Casa en Casa 3: Cervical Cancer Screening in Underserved Rural and Border Communities in West and South Texas (Navkiran Shokar) - $1,985,089

The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston

  • Expanding "All for Them": A comprehensive school-based approach to increase HPV vaccination through public schools (Paula Cuccaro) - $1,960,631

The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center

  • Active Living After Cancer: Combining a Physical Activity Program with Survivor Navigation (Karen Basen-Engquist) - $1,999,200

The University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston

  • Maximizing opportunities for HPV vaccination in medically underserved counties of Southeast Texas (Abbey Berenson) - $1,993,096

The University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center

  • The Expanded C-SPAN Coalition: Colorectal Screening and Patient Navigation (Keith Argenbright) - $2,000,000

Evidence-Based Cancer Prevention Services Awards - Two grants totaling $1,995,991

The University of Texas at Austin

  • Advancing Breast Health among Uninsured Women (Elizabeth Jacobs) - $995,999
  • Screening and Treatment for Unhealthy Alcohol Use as a Means of Cancer Prevention (Michael Pignone) - $999,992

Dissemination of CPRIT-Funded Cancer Control Interventions Awards - Two grants totaling $599,953

Texas A&M University System Health Science Center

  • Advancing the Access to Cancer Training, Information, Outreach, and Navigation (ACTION) Project for CHW Dissemination of Resources to At-Risk Texas Regions (Jane Bolin) - $300,000

University of Houston

  • Taking Texas Tobacco Free Through a Sustainable Education/Training Program Designed for Personnel Addressing Tobacco Control in Behavioral Health Settings (Lorraine Reitzel) - $299,953


Seed Awards for Product Development Research - Four grants totaling $11,996,760

Asylia Therapeutics

  • Development of a Novel Approach to Cancer Immunotherapy by Targeting Extracellular Tumor- derived HSP70 to Dendritic Cells (Jeno Gyuris) - $3,000,000

Barricade Therapeutics, Corp.

  • Development of a First-In-Class Small Molecule, TASIN, for Targeting Truncated APC Mutations for the Treatment of Colorectal Cancer (CRC) (Neil Thapar) - $2,999,376

Dialectic Therapeutics, Inc.

  • Developing a First-In-Class BCL-XL Proteolysis Targeting Chimera (BCL- PROTAC) for Cancer Therapy (Joshua Sills) - $3,000,000

Texas Magnetic Imaging Technology, Inc.

  • Integrated interior magnetic resonance imaging and medical linear accelerator system for radiation therapy (Farhad Choudhury) - $2,997,384