University of Texas at Austin Researchers Awarded $4.7 Million for Cancer Research

April 7, 2011

AUSTIN, Texas — Faculty from The University of Texas at Austin have been awarded $4.7 million from the Cancer Prevention Research Institute of Texas (CPRIT) for research to further understand cancer biology and develop new cancer treatments.

Researchers at the university's Texas Institute for Drug and Diagnostic Development (TI-3D) were awarded $2.4 million as part of a $12.6 million award to the Gulf Coast Consortia CPRIT Throughput Screening Program.

The consortia will provide Texas researchers with access to resources, such as robotic machines and chemicals, normally only available to scientists working in large pharmaceutical companies.

Co-directed by Kevin Dalby, associate professor of medicinal chemistry in the College of Pharmacy, the projects at TI-3D will provide consortia researchers access to chemical library screening, chemo-informatics and medicinal chemistry.

"Our ultimate goal is to provide realistic pathways to new drugs," said Dalby.

Through a separate CPRIT grant for $1 million, Tanya Paull will be studying how double-stranded DNA is repaired after it breaks and how pathways to DNA repair affect the development of tumors.

Paull, a professor of molecular genetics and microbiology in the College of Natural Sciences and Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator, will be working with scientists from University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center and M.D. Anderson Cancer Center. She received a CPRIT grant last year for her research on signals in cancer cells that control their growth and death.

Maria Person, director of the Protein and Metabolite Analysis Facility at the Institute for Cellular and Molecular Biology and the College of Pharmacy, received $1.3 million to purchase state-of-the-art mass spectrometry equipment. It will be used to observe molecular details from the earliest stages of DNA damage, through cell proliferation, invasion and metastasis, and to provide detailed characterization of interactions of drugs with DNA and proteins.

Texas voters in 2007 overwhelmingly approved a constitutional amendment establishing the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas and dedicating up to $3 billion to invest in groundbreaking cancer research and prevention programs and services in Texas. CPRIT focuses on expediting the innovation and commercialization of cancer research -– in turn increasing the potential for a medical or scientific breakthrough -– and enhancing access to evidence-based prevention programs and services.

Not including these awards, University of Texas at Austin researchers have received $6.6 million in grants from CPRIT. Read more about those awards at Researchers to Further Cancer Research with $3.3 Million in Grants and $3.3 Million in New Grants to Help Diagnose and Treat Cancer.

For more information, contact: Lee Clippard, College of Natural Sciences, 512-232-0675; Nancy Neff, 512-657-6602.