CPRIT gives Health Science Center researchers $1.19 million in prevention research grants

Posted: Friday, January 28, 2011
Contact: Elizabeth Allen, CTRC, 210-450-2020

SAN ANTONIO (January 28, 2011) – An $890,659 state grant designed to expand the known benefits of exercise to more cancer survivors will kick off a research-based program of Stacey Young-McCaughan, R.N., Ph.D. at the UT Health Science Center San Antonio’s Cancer Therapy & Research Center.

The grant is one of two Health Science Center awards from the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute that were announced Thursday. The second grant of $297,173 goes to Deborah Parra-Medina, Ph.D., M.P.H., a professor of epidemiology and biostatistics in the Health Science Center’s Institute for Health Promotion Research.

“I am proud and excited about these major grant awards from CPRIT, recognizing the superb quality of prevention science here at the CTRC and the UT Health Science Center,” said CTRC Director Ian M. Thompson, Jr., M.D. “Our physicians and scientists of the CTRC are convinced that one of our greatest priorities is cancer prevention and using interventions like exercise to reduce the burden of this disease.”

The focus of this round of CPRIT funding is to make evidence-based cancer prevention practices more widely available, said Dr. Young-McCaughan, a professor in the School of Medicine’s psychiatry department.

Her research and that of many others shows tangible benefits of regular exercise for cancer survivors, she said, but making it a widespread practice is a big task.

“That’s always the hardest part of research,” she said. “Once you figure out what the correct answer is, you have to replicate it nine bajillion times.”

“What we want to do is take what we know from the research and offer that program to patients diagnosed with cancer in Bexar County – but if people are willing to come from farther out, we want to see them, too.”

Participants will get complete physical assessments and have fitness programs designed for them, that they can practice either at the facility or in their homes. They’ll also be asked to come in for further assessments, both to make sure they’re doing well and give feedback to researchers.
That feedback means the program will continue to produce more research data on the links between cancer prevention and health.

Most of the data currently comes from early stage breast cancer patients, Dr. Young-McCaughan said. “We don’t know so much about lung cancer and pancreatic cancer and brain cancer. This program will give us a chance to learn about those things.”

Dr. Parra-Medina will use the $297,000 grant in a peer education and outreach program encouraging use of the HPV vaccine to prevent cervical cancer among Latina mothers and daughters living in Texas-Mexico border communities.
The program will train “promotoras,” or community health workers, who will be assisted by female college students to educate Latina mothers and daughters about cervical cancer risk factors and the HPV vaccine, which prevents cervical cancer, she said.

“We really need to promote the use of the vaccine in populations at risk, and in the Rio Grande Valley we have very high rates of cervical cancer,” Dr. Parra-Medina said.

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The Cancer Therapy & Research Center (CTRC) at The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio is one of the elite academic cancer centers in the country to be named a National Cancer Institute (NCI) Designated Cancer Center, and is one of only four in Texas. A leader in developing new drugs to treat cancer, the CTRC Institute for Drug Development (IDD) conducts one of the largest oncology Phase I clinical drug programs in the world, and participates in development of cancer drugs approved by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration. For more information, visit www.ctrc.net.



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