Texas Southern University (TSU) scholars will help in the fight against cancer via a recently announced $5.1 million academic research grant from the Cancer Prevention & Research Institute of Texas (CPRIT). The five-year grant is a Core Facility Support award, which makes cutting-edge technology available for capital investment and technical expertise. It is TSU’s first-ever CPRIT award, and it is one of the largest publicly-funded grants the university has received in its 90-year history.
TSU received one of 64 new research, product development, and prevention grants from CPRIT this quarter, which has now awarded in total $2.15 billion of the $3 billion approved by Texas voters in 2007 to fight cancer.
“This award is affirmation of our commitment to bring world-class academic quality and research opportunities to Texas Southern University,” said Dr. Austin A. Lane, President of TSU. “Students and faculty in our College of Pharmacy & Health Sciences will have access to leading-edge cancer research through this grant. As the largest Historically Black College and University in Texas and the second-largest in the nation, this will significantly strengthen our mission to provide advanced academic and research programs to ethnically diverse student populations, and to positively impact minority health research in the Texas Medical Center and beyond.”
The CPRIT grant will provide access to testing and experimental support required in preclinical cancer drug development. It will be based at TSU in a state-of-the-art facility led by faculty with expertise in cancer research. User groups will include academic investigators and Texas start-up companies developing cancer therapies.
“We are very excited about this award and what it means for TSU,” said Dr. Dong Liang, chair and professor of the department of pharmaceutical and environmental health sciences at TSU and principal investigator of the grant. “While there is no shortage of brilliant cancer investigators throughout the Texas Medical Center, and exciting cancer discoveries on a regular basis, academic resources for developing those discoveries into actual cancer treatments has been largely unavailable except through contract research organizations, which are often inaccessible to many cancer researchers. With CPRIT funding, we will be able to expand our current program to create the GCC Center for Comprehensive Pharmacokinetics and Pharmacodynamics (PK/PD) and Formulation (CCPF) project. This will allow us to accommodate many additional studies and ultimately move more Texas cancer investigators’ discoveries closer to clinical trials.”
Dr. Huan Xie and Dr. Omonike Olaleye, both professors in the department of pharmaceutical and environmental health sciences at TSU and co-lead investigators for the grant, emphasized that it will benefit TSU students – as well as society – in two important ways.
“First, we will be able to expand our current pharmaceutical program to be able to accommodate many additional studies and ultimately move more Texas cancer investigators’ discoveries closer to clinical trials,” said Dr. Xie. “Second, it will allow TSU to provide training to the next generation of cancer investigators in developmental PK/PD, which is how the body handles a potential drug and how the drug affects the body.”
“One of the goals at Texas Southern University is to stimulate innovative research through infrastructure support,” added TSU Provost Dr. Kendall Harris. “The CPRIT Core Facility grant provides the right opportunity for this.”
The first year of the grant will involve establishing and expanding the research equipment and laboratory space while serving research projects, and the remaining four years will fully engage the research and development services.
To date, CPRIT has awarded 1,317 grants totaling more than $2.15 billion. During the 85th Texas Legislature, CPRIT’s Sunset Review date was extended by two years to 2023 to allow the agency to use fully all funds approved by Texas voters.