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Institute funds cancer research

Jan. 22, 2010

$200,000 grant awarded for various projects

By Sara Tirrito
Staff Writer

Baylor has been awarded a $200,000 grant was by the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas, Wednesday. It will be put toward cancer research and prevention efforts by the university.

Baylor's grant came in the first wave of awards from the institute.

Texas voters approved an amendment to the Texas Constitution, creating the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas in 2007.

Over the next 10 years, the institute will be distributing $3 billion worth of grants to private companies and academic institutions because of the 2007 vote.

"The voters of Texas voted to spend the money on cancer research and prevention and CPRIT is making that happen," Ellen Read, an information specialist at the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute said. "It's an awesome cause."

Dr. Kevin Pinney, the principal investigator for the grant application, and Dr. Mary Lynn Trawick, co-PI, will use the grant to help further their research on new cancer treatment agents. Pinney is a professor of Chemistry and Trawick an associate professor of Biochemistry at Baylor.

"My group and Mary Lynn's group have collaborated for quite a while. We're focusing on the discovery and development of new cancer treatment agents that have enhanced selectivity for the tumor microenvironment," Pinney said. "It's a good collaboration because we have aspects of synthetic chemistry, biochemistry, and cell biology."

Trawick said the CPRIT grant was a good match for the research project because the project will take research in a new direction.

"This particular grant is really for innovative research, that nevertheless is high-risk in terms of going in a new direction," Trawick said. "This funding opportunity was particularly well-suited for our research."

Part of the grant will also be used for collaboration with University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas.

"The other thing that's especially nice about this is a small portion of the grant involves a collaboration with a group at University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas," Pinney said. "That's specifically for a part of the project involving tumor imaging. A good portion of the grant is being done here at Baylor."

Pinney said the grant coincides with Baylor's mission in terms of both students and society.

"[The grant] really helps us to have the necessary resources to move the project forward more quickly," Pinney said. "Because we're dealing with new potential anti-cancer agents, it has the opportunity to have a wide impact. It fits well with Baylor's mission not only in terms of education for students, but in trying to come up with things that are helpful for society."

The grant also comes with a cash-match requirement of 50 percent.

Jan Nimmo, assistant vice provost for research, said outside funding agencies have already awarded Baylor the $100,000 required.

"For every dollar that they [CPRIT] give us, they're requiring us to document that we're willing to provide 50 cents," Nimmo said. "Dr. Pinney and Dr. Trawick are being successful in getting support for their research from sources outside the university."