A boost in the fight against cancer

Cancer prevention programs and initiatives to recruit faculty to UT Health San Antonio got a $3.5 million boost from the Cancer Prevention & Research Institute of Texas (CPRIT).

The awards bring total funding to UT Health San Antonio by CPRIT to about $72.6 million since the program began in 2008. The UT Health San Antonio Cancer Center is one of the state’s National Cancer Institute-designated cancer centers, and is a leader in cancer control programs.

Of the funding, $2 million will bring Siyuan Zheng, Ph.D., to UT Health San Antonio’s Greehey Children’s Cancer Research Institute, from The University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center. Dr. Zheng’s primary research focus is using data analysis to gain understandings about the cancer genome, the complete set of genes present
in cancer cells.

Another $1.3 million was awarded to Amelie G. Ramirez, Dr.P.H., professor in the Department of Epidemiology & Biostatistics and director of the Institute for Health Promotion Research at UT Health San Antonio, to expand Quitxt, a bilingual service that sends texts with culturally and regionally tailored support to help South Texas young adults quit smoking.

The final $200,000 was given to support studies on a novel chemical strategy to treat lung cancer and potentially many other cancer types. Hai Rao, Ph.D., associate professor in the Department of Molecular Medicine, is the project leader.

Another project receiving CPRIT funding is a study of the optimization of a novel class of microtubule stabilizers to circumvent multiple drug-resistance mechanisms. April Risinger, Ph.D., assistant professor in the Department of Pharmacology at UT Health San Antonio, is a co-principal investigator on the grant, awarded to The University of Texas at San Antonio. The project is led by UTSA’s Douglas Frantz, Ph.D., principal investigator.

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