Baylor receives more than $5.8 million in CPRIT funding

Baylor College of Medicine has been awarded more than $5.8 million in grants by the Cancer Prevention & Research Institute of Texas (CPRIT) to support innovative translational research and cancer treatments. CPRIT awarded more than $90 million in grants to institutions across Texas to advance the fight against cancer, including four grants to Baylor.

“This is a major boost for our research focusing on reducing the burden of childhood cancer and adult breast cancer and leukemia in our state,” said Dr. Pavan Reddy, a CPRIT Scholar and professor and director of the Dan L Duncan Comprehensive Cancer Center at Baylor. “The highly impactful and forward-looking CPRIT support is a game changer in leading the fight against cancer.”

As part of this round of grants, CPRIT is emphasizing research focused on fighting childhood cancer. Baylor received two Individual Investigator Research Awards for Cancer in Children and Adolescents. Dr. Melanie Bernhardt, assistant professor of pediatrics – hematology and oncology at Baylor and director of pharmacy at Texas Children’s Hospital Global Hematology Oncology Pediatric Excellence (HOPE), received $1.39 million for her research titled, “Identifying Clinical Methotrexate Toxicity Phenotypes Across Phases of Pediatric Leukemia Therapy.” The work focuses on improving treatment of acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) in children.

Latino children are more likely to be diagnosed with ALL and also are more likely to have severe side effects from the medicines used to treat this cancer. Bernhardt’s grant will examine the disparity in these side effects for Latino children with the goal of new treatments to improve survival and increase quality of life.

In addition to research in pediatric ALL, Baylor experts also will study treatments for pediatric liver cancer. Dr. Pavel Sumazin, associate professor of pediatrics – oncology at Baylor and director of the Bioinformatics Core Laboratory at Texas Children’s Cancer and Hematology Center, received $1.37 million for his research titled, “Clonal Evolution and Chemoresistance of Hepatoblastomas with Hepatocellular Carcinoma Features.”

Other awards to Baylor include:

Dr. Xi Chen, Cullen Duncan McAshan Endowed Chair in Cancer Research, associate professor of molecular and cellular biology and CPRIT Scholar, received a $2 million Individual Investigator Research Award for Clinical Translation for his research titled, “Harnessing Endoplasmic Reticulum Stress to Overcome Resistance to Immunotherapy in Immune-cold Breast Cancer.”

Dr. Maksim Mamonkin, assistant professor in the Center for Cell and Gene Therapy, received a $1.05 million Individual Investigator Award for his research titled, “Understanding and improving CAR T-cell therapy of T-cell Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia and Lymphoblastic Lymphoma.”

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