Five Texas A&M University research teams recently received grants totaling more than $6 million from the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas. 

The largest of the grants was for $4.69 million, followed by an award of $721,306 and three additional grants worth $200,000 each. A&M recipients include faculty-researchers in the College of Medicine, College of Science, AgriLife Research and the Texas A&M Health Science Center. In total, the CPRIT awarded 71 grants worth $136 million to researchers across the state. 

Jean-Philippe Pellois, associate head of A&M’s biochemistry and biophysics department, received $200,000 for his studies of how cells communicate with each other. When cells shed part of their membrane, they share material that other cells typically respond to in a negative way. Understanding this process can help researchers determine how aggressive a person’s cancer is by performing a blood test, since these cell particles float in the bloodstream.   

“This project is about developing the tools we need to learn about these particles, to learn how to measure their activity and potentially develop therapeutic and diagnostic tools,” Pellois said. “The grant is sort of a foundation for new ideas.”

CPRIT has led the state in research to fight cancer, according to A&M Vice President for Research Mark A. Barteau, who congratulated A&M’s researchers in a Wednesday news release. 

“Their work will lead to breakthroughs that will advance cancer prevention and treatment around the world,” Barteau said.

CPRIT was created in 2007, when Texans voted for a constitutional amendment to use $3 billion of bonds to establish the institute. CPRIT has awarded $2.4 billion in grants since 2007; this year’s general election ballot will include a constitutional amendment that would add another $3 billion in bonds for further research.

Pellois said he is grateful to CPRIT for the grants they provide to cancer researchers across the state, because he sees the funds making a major influence in Texas and the nation.

“There is always a moment of joy, because getting money for research is very challenging and competitive,” Pellois said. “When you get money like this, it is not only going to let you continue doing your research, it is also a group of people telling you that your idea is good.”

The full list of A&M’s grant recipients can be found on today.tamu.edu.

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