Home Biomedical research UTEP receives $ 6.1 million grant for cancer research and detection

UTEP receives $ 6.1 million grant for cancer research and detection

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The University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP) is leading new research on Hispanic cancer disparities and early cancer detection with $ 6.1 million in funding from the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas (CPRIT).

“As the leading Hispanic university in the United States, UTEP is uniquely positioned to study why cancer disparities exist and how to detect cancer at an early stage so that it can be treated,” Heather said. Wilson, president of UTEP.

The CPRIT awarded Dr. Marc B. Cox, Director of the Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences and Professor of Biological Sciences at UTEP, a Texas Regional Award of Excellence in Oncology in the amount of $ 5,881,734 to advance the Hispanic Cancer Health Disparities Research.

In addition, Xiujun James Li, associate professor of chemistry, received $ 249,999 to develop methods for the early diagnosis of ovarian cancer, which is the fifth leading cause of cancer death in women.

“I am delighted that UTEP is recognized statewide for the work it has done to strengthen its scientific infrastructure,” said Dee Margo, CPRIT Oversight Committee member and past chair.

“The UTEP / UTMDACC Hispanic Cancer Disparities Research Partnership Project will leverage UTEP’s unique resources and opportunities and serve as a model for other universities focusing on cancer research. “

Cox’s grant will create a pipeline for researchers studying cancer-related health disparities in Hispanic populations. The grant will fund five UTEP faculty members each year for five years to investigate cancer in Hispanics of Mexican descent in the Paso del Norte area, including southern New Mexico and Juárez, Mexico. .

Cancer is the leading cause of death among Hispanics, but Hispanic cancer patients are underrepresented in cancer research, Cox said.

“We have a predominantly Hispanic population in this region that is historically underserved when it comes to disease research in general,” Cox said.

“This grant will allow UTEP to address critical issues in cancer research that are relevant to our local population. It will also prepare a new generation of cancer researchers who are focused on reducing and eliminating the health disparities associated with Hispanic cancer. “

UTEP faculty will partner with researchers at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center (UTMDACC), who will focus on research projects related to health disparities in pediatric brain cancer, breast cancer, colorectal cancer, gastric cancer and cancers related to the human papillomavirus.

“This collaboration will bring together junior professors from UTEP and senior mentor professors from MD Anderson who have common interests in basic and translational cancer research across a wide range of disciplines,” said Joseph McCarty, Ph.D. , site director of MD Anderson, professor of Neurosurgery. “We look forward to supporting UTEP’s growing cancer research program and fostering long-term collaborative research efforts between UTEP and MD Anderson for the benefit of cancer patients in Texas. “

A second CPRIT grant will support Li’s research focusing on advancing methods of early detection of ovarian cancer.

Early stage ovarian cancer can be difficult to detect because the symptoms may be vague. As a result, the disease is responsible for more deaths than any other cancer of the female reproductive system.

With support from his CPRIT grant, Li will collaborate with the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center and MD Anderson to develop a low-cost method that can detect multiple cancer biomarkers using a common thermometer, which could lead to a rapid diagnosis of ovarian cancer in its early stages.

“Ovarian cancer is a silent killer,” Li said. “It usually cannot be detected until it is at an advanced stage, so it has a very high death rate. Our goal is to develop methods for the early detection of ovarian cancer to prevent deaths and increase survival rates, especially in low-resource settings such as border countries, rural areas and developing countries.

Li’s research will also provide multidisciplinary training opportunities for UTEP students in nanotechnology, biochip and biomedical research.

The pairs of professors and the UTEP / MD Anderson projects are:

  • UTEP Principal Investigator Taslim A Al-Hilal, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Pharmaceutical Sciences and McCarty
    Project Title: Microfluidic Isolation and Enumeration of Circulating Brain Cancer Cells to Identify Novel Cancer Mediators in Hispanic and Non-Hispanic Pediatric Patients
  • UTEP Principal Investigator Sourav Roy, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Biological Sciences and MD Mentor Anderson Eduardo Vilar-Sanchez, MD, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Clinical Cancer Prevention
    Project title: Identify the components of cell survival pathways induced by oxidative stress in health disparities linked to colorectal cancer
  • UTEP Principal Investigator Md Nurunnabi, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Pharmaceutical Sciences and Mentor MD Anderson Jaffer Ajani, MD, Professor of Gastrointestinal Medical Oncology
    Project title: Development of a biosensor and bio-imaging technology for the diagnosis of gastric cancer in Hispanics
  • UTEP Principal Investigator Ahmed El-Gendy, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Physics and MD Mentor Anderson R. Jason Stafford, Ph.D., Professor of Imaging Physics
    Project title: Plasmonic hyperthermia of magnetic nanoparticles as an alternative cancer therapy
  • UTEP Principal Investigator Gabriel Frietze, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Pharmaceutical Sciences and MD Mentor Anderson Surendranath Shastri, MD, Professor of Health Disparities Research
    Project Title: Human Papillomavirus (HPV) Vaccine Acceptance: A Randomized Controlled Trial Examining Trusted Messengers of Vaccine Information in Hispanic Parents

For all things UTEP, click here; for our previous coverage of UTEP, click here.


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