TEXAS – The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley (UTRGV) and the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas (CPRIT) met in McAllen with key community leaders and legislators to celebrate a five-year, $6 million grant for the university’s South Texas Cancer Research Center of Excellence.
The ST-CECR grant is the first of its kind and amount for the academic medical institution and the border community, plus it is part of CPRIT’s Texas Regional and Cancer Excellence (TREC) Award, aimed at supporting centers that are not designated by the National Cancer Institute and are outside the proximity radius of a larger center, such as those in Dallas, Houston and San Antonio.
“This grant fits exactly what we’re doing here. It’s very difficult without resources and seed funding to develop the types of cancer research needed here in the Valley. But now, through this award, we can continue our fight against cancer, specifically the most prevalent cancers in our region,” said UTRGV President Guy Bailey.
The goal of the grant is to help continue the research and discoveries at ST-CECR and help transform the health of the Valley and beyond.
Michael B. Hocker, UT Health RGV senior vice president and dean of the College of Medicine said the grant will have a direct impact on the research he is doing at UTRGV.
“This historic funding is a major step forward in our fight against cancer. Our patients and their families deserve world-class care. Here in the Rio Grande Valley, they shouldn’t have to leave their homes and families to find the care they need and deserve,” Hocker said.
The CPRIT grant will increase the school’s impact on biomedical and clinical research, he said, and facilitate research synergies that foster a focus on health and disease in underrepresented populations.
In addition, the resource will support the operations of the UTRGV Surgery and Cancer Center and accelerate cancer research at the university and throughout South Texas. It will also support research projects on liver cancer and other cancers prevalent in the region, such as cervical and colorectal cancer.
While this is the first award of this type and amount for the Valley, CPRIT has awarded five TREC awards totaling $30 million to fight cancer.
Michelle Le Beau, CPRIT’s chief scientific officer, said the award is a strong statement that whether the institution is located in Houston, El Paso, Dallas or McAllen, all areas of Texas can and will contribute to making the Lone Star State a national leader in the fight against cancer.
“While cancer death rates have dropped 33% in the last three years. The Texas border region has the highest cancer incidence and mortality rate in the country and, as a result, bears a disproportionate share of the cancer burden,” said Le Beau.