$2 million grant to help fund TTUHSC El Paso research on breast cancer

Lydia Dominguez who has decided to terminate treatment for her stage 4 renal cancer fulfills her dream of marrying Joshua. Mark Lambie / El Paso Times Mark Lambie / El Paso Times

(Photo: Photo By: Tommie Morelos/Texas Tech HSC El Paso)

Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center El Paso on Thursday announced a $2 million grant to fund a new lab to study breast cancer at the school’s Center of Emphasis on Cancer.

The grant was instrumental in the recruitment of a Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas Scholar to run the lab, which is a first in West Texas, according to a news release from TTUHSC El Paso.

The lab will be headed by CPRIT Scholar Shrikanth Gadad, Ph.D.

Gadad said his long-term goal is to connect his research to the community, looking at how factors including stress and diet can affect the chances of contracting cancer.

His advanced, groundbreaking research on breast cancer could lead to new treatments.

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The lab’s research will complement current cancer research at the Center of Emphasis in Cancer, said Rajkumar Lakshmanaswamy, Ph.D., scientific director of the center and dean of the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences.

Lakshmanaswamy’s research at the Center of Emphasis in Cancer has focused on the types of genes that make proteins. Gadad’s research will focus on long noncoding RNAs — genes that don’t make proteins.

Officials announce on April 19 a $2 million grant from the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas (CPRIT) will allow Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center El Paso (TTUHSC El Paso) to create a new lab focusing on breast cancer.

“The concept that Gadad is bringing in is really new, and it will help us understand the process of cancer growth and how it becomes aggressive,” Lakshmanaswamy said. “Using that, we can actually come up with some strategies to prevent the growth of these cancers.”

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El Paso Mayor Dee Margo, who is the CPRIT Oversight Committee’s assistant presiding officer, said in a statement that Gadad’s recruitment is important for the Borderland.

“Having CPRIT Scholar Shrikanth Gadad recruited to TTUHSC El Paso demonstrates our city’s status as a serious player in life-sciences research,” Margo said. “Cancer disproportionately affects Texans on the border, and this requires us to build a stronger, cancer-fighting ecosystem right here to study how best to address these disparities.”

Students in the university’s Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences will be involved with the new lab and Gadad’s research.

In 2007, Texas voters approved a constitutional amendment establishing a cancer prevention institute. The state was authorized to issue $3 billion in bonds to fund groundbreaking cancer research and prevention programs and services in the state.

Samuel Gaytan may be reached at 546-6175; sgaytan@elpasotimes.com; @samuelgaytan on Twitter.

CPRIT facts

• Since 2009, CPRIT has awarded more than $14.5 million to TTUHSC El Paso, mostly through cancer prevention grants, and more than $58 million to the Texas Tech University System.

• To date, CPRIT has awarded $1.95 billion in grants to Texas researchers, institutions and organizations and provides funding through its academic research, prevention and product development research programs.

• Programs made possible with CPRIT funding have reached Texans from all 254 counties of the state, brought more than 150 distinguished researchers to Texas, advanced scientific and clinical knowledge and provide more than four million lifesaving education, training, prevention and early detection services to Texans.

Source: Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center El Paso

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