AUSTIN (Nexstar) – The Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas Oversight Committee approved $12 million in recruitment grants on Wednesday, which will bring two new scholars to expand the state’s cancer research. 

To date, CPRIT has recruited 285 preeminent cancer researchers to the state. The two new scholars, Dr. Rhugang Zhang and Dr. Keith Chan, will bring the total to 287 – offering new expertise and research technologies and innovation to Texas in the areas of ovarian and genitourinary cancer. 

In 2022, an estimated 1,783 Texas women will face an ovarian cancer diagnosis, and nearly 60% of those women are estimated to die, according to Texas Oncology.

In 2022, an estimated 16,966 men in the U.S. are expected to be diagnosed with prostate cancer, according to the Texas Cancer Registry Annual Report 2022.

Dr. Michelle M. Le Beau, chief scientific officer for CPRIT, said this is why funding for expanding the institute’s research and development is critical.

“CPRIT’s mission is to invest in building the research — preeminence and infrastructure in cancer research in Texas — and one of the most important programs is to recruit the most innovative researchers to Texas,” Le Beau said. 

As the only state in the nation that has a taxpayer-funded program that supports cancer research, Le Beau said the discoveries through CPRIT research have the potential to not only affect citizens in the state but the nation as well. 

“Their discoveries are used to translate the findings into advancements in cancer prevention, early detection and development of new treatments, both here across the United States and internationally … there’s a very broad ripple effect from building the infrastructure and the expertise that we have here in Texas.” Le Beau said. 

CPRIT was created in 2007 by the Texas Legislature and approved by a statewide vote. In 2019, Texans voted to continue CPRIT with an additional $3 billion – a total of $6 billion in cancer research and prevention. 

The Oversight Committee houses nine appointees from the governor, the lieutenant governor, and the speaker of the house to serve staggered terms. The committee meets once every quarter to set the priorities for the agency and vote on proposed, peer-reviewed cancer research and prevention grants to institutions throughout the state.