AUGUST 31, 2021 — The University of Texas at San Antonio has been awarded a five-year $3.2 million grant from the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas (CPRIT). The money will go toward work at the Center for Innovative Drug Discovery (CIDD), a joint venture between the university and UT Health San Antonio, and a place where UTSA continues to make important contributions to the fight against cancer.
The CIDD will use its new CPRIT funding to develop strategies and technologies to target cancer-related proteins previously considered “undruggable.” An innovative method they will develop is the Proteolysis-Targeting Chimeras (PROTAC) platform. Stanton McHardy, UTSA associate professor of chemistry and the CIDD director, explains that part of what makes this approach effective is its ability to promote degradation of the targeted cancer protein and kill the cancer cell.
“Obviously cancer is a major medical burden to our society,” McHardy said. “Our ultimate goal is to discover the next generation of tangible, pre-clinical cancer therapeutics and advance our programs and drug candidates to a stage where they can be developed into clinical therapies to treat cancer.”
This joint venture between UTSA and UT Health has two facilities. The first, which is located at UTSA and led by McHardy, is the Medicinal Chemistry and Synthesis Core Facility. The second is the High-Throughput Screening Facility (HTSF) at UT Health, where Matt Hart is the director. Hart is also associate professor of research in the Department of Biochemistry and Structural Biology at UT Health San Antonio.
UTSA’s Doug Frantz, the Max and Minnie Tomerlin Voelcker Distinguished Professor of Chemistry, is a CIDD co-founder.
“To be selected for the CPRIT grant, we proposed a focused and resource-intensive core facility to offer CIDD collaborators and clients a one-of-a-kind capability in Texas, providing PROTAC design, synthesis and screening—an approach that is applicable to multiple types of cancers and cancer targets,” McHardy said.
The new grant is the second from CPRIT awarded to CIDD. The organization received a five-year $4.6 million grant in 2016 infusion to grow and support the center’s cancer research portfolio of small molecule drug discovery programs.
That funding enabled CIDD to establish 59 new cancer drug discovery programs. The center also executed research on triple-negative breast cancers, ovarian cancers, oral cancers, brain cancers (glioblastomas), liver cancers and childhood cancers. CIDD leaders also collaborated with Texas-based cancer researchers and institutions, securing more than $34 million in funding for collaborative cancer grants.
McHardy said the CIDD’s intent is to provide a diverse array of core facilities and expertise to facilitate the translation of basic scientific discoveries into tangible pre-clinical candidate drugs that can be further developed into clinical therapies for human disease.
In addition to making important contributions toward treating cancer, the CIDD is having an enormous impact on UTSA students by providing a distinctive research-and-learning platform where they can learn pharmaceutical-industry concepts and techniques used in drug discovery.
“Ultimately, this has provided a ‘lab to career’ transition for our UTSA students, who are being employed by leading pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies,” McHardy said.
McHardy and Frantz also credit the Max and Minnie Tomerlin Voelcker Fund for supporting CIDD's drug discovery and educational missions through substantial philanthropic gifts over the past 10 years.
“This latest award from CPRIT to the CIDD is a testimony of how we have been able to leverage these gifts to catalyze additional financial support through various state and federal funding agencies to further the return on their initial investments in our faculty and students,” Frantz said.
The Racial Justice Book Club was established at UTSA by members of the campus community to explore social justice following acts of racial violence across the nation over the last few years. We are reading The Injustice Never Leaves You: Anti-Mexican Violence in Texas by Monica Muñoz Martinez. We will meet every Wednesday in September and October at 2 pm on Zoom.Virtual Event
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This September 30, the Friday Series will feature Prof. Milena Ang, who will be presenting A Tren to Nowhere: Statistic Development and the Politics of Racial, a paper co-authored with Tania Islas-Weistein where they discuss Mexico's long history of state-led development projects that contribute to economic and racial inequality. The authors argue that despite professing racial justice, official discourses surrounding the Tren Maya reproduce existing symbolic and material forms of racism.McKinney Humanities (MH 4.01.01,) Main Campus
We invite you to learn about the process of screenwriting and explore the intersection of identity and pursuing dreams from Jorge Ramirez-Martinez and Raymond Perez, screenwriters for the Selena: The Series, released on Netflix. They will discuss their careers and writing process, including how their identities as Mexican American and gay men have shaped their professional experiences.Virtual Event
The University of Texas at San Antonio is dedicated to the advancement of knowledge through research and discovery, teaching and learning, community engagement and public service. As an institution of access and excellence, UTSA embraces multicultural traditions and serves as a center for intellectual and creative resources as well as a catalyst for socioeconomic development and the commercialization of intellectual property - for Texas, the nation and the world.
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We encourage an environment of dialogue and discovery, where integrity, excellence, inclusiveness, respect, collaboration and innovation are fostered.
UTSA is a proud Hispanic Serving Institution (HSI) as designated by the U.S. Department of Education.
The University of Texas at San Antonio, a Hispanic Serving Institution situated in a global city that has been a crossroads of peoples and cultures for centuries, values diversity and inclusion in all aspects of university life. As an institution expressly founded to advance the education of Mexican Americans and other underserved communities, our university is committed to ending generations of discrimination and inequity. UTSA, a premier public research university, fosters academic excellence through a community of dialogue, discovery and innovation that embraces the uniqueness of each voice.