'We are continuing to transform the health of the Rio Grande Valley and beyond'

  Tuesday, February 21, 2023
  Announcements, Research

By Saira Cabrera

RIO GRANDE VALLEY, TEXAS – The UTRGV School of Medicine's South Texas Center of Excellence in Cancer Research (ST-CECR) has been awarded $6 million by the prestigious Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas (CPRIT), funding that will help accelerate the mission of rendering life-changing research to transform the health of the Rio Grande Valley and beyond, university leaders said.

Dr. Michael B. Hocker, senior vice president for UT Health RGV and dean of the UTRGV School of Medicine, said the award is a testament to the outstanding School of Medicine community and its work to transform healthcare.

"This is a major step forward in our fight against cancer in the Valley, and the award reflects the great work our academic medical institution does every day," Hocker said. "To have been CPRIT's recipient solidifies our mission and commitment to providing better healthcare options across the region, along with rending life-changing research and discoveries."

Dr. Subhash Chauhan
Dr. Subhash Chauhan, professor, founding director of the South Texas Center of Excellence in Cancer Research and principal investigator of the $6 million CPRIT award, said this grant will directly impact the UTRGV School of Medicine's mission to improve the healthcare of the Rio Grande Valley and beyond through life-changing research and discoveries. (UTRGV Photo by Maria Gonzalez)


The CPRIT award to the South Texas Center of Excellence in Cancer Research is the first of its kind and amount for the academic medical institution and the border community. It will increase the school's mission to have an impact on biomedical and clinical research and improve health in the region, while facilitating synergies in research that will further the School of Medicine's focus on health and disease in underrepresented populations.

The CPRIT award will support the UTRGV cancer center's operations and accelerate cancer research at the university and across South Texas. It also will support liver cancer research projects, and other prevalent cancers in the region, such as cervical and colorectal.

Dr. Subhash Chauhan, professor of the Department of Immunology and Microbiology at the UTRGV School of Medicine, is founding director of the ST-CECR and the principal investigator of the CPRIT award. He said he is excited about what the award will mean in terms of support in the Valley.

"Receiving this is a lifetime opportunity," he said. "It will help grow our research team and our ongoing studies on liver cancer and will help eliminate some of the cancer health disparities in our region."



The CPRIT Oversight Committee awarded this grant as part of its Texas Regional Excellence in Cancer (TREC) award to strengthen cancer research at institutions far from the major research hubs in larger metropolitan areas across the state, such as Dallas, Houston and San Antonio.

"This award goes hand in hand with our upcoming UT Health RGV Cancer and Surgery Center opening in 2025," Hocker said. "These efforts are bringing much-needed, critical medical services to our region so our community can find the care and research they need here at home."

Chauhan said this grant is one of the major cancer research findings the school has received.

"This is a landmark, a milestone for our research portfolio and the many lives that will be helped through this," he said.

Other research collaborators include research project leaders Sheema Khan, Ph.D., Manish Tripathi, Ph.D., Nirakar Sahoo, Ph.D., Debasish Bandyopadhyay, M.Sc., Ph.D.; project coordinator Murali M. Yallapu, Ph.D.; and the members of the external and internal advisory boards. Local support also was rendered from the cities of Edinburg, McAllen and Pharr.   


The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley (UTRGV) was created by the Texas Legislature in 2013 as the first major public university of the 21st century in Texas. This transformative initiative provided the opportunity to expand educational opportunities in the Rio Grande Valley, including a new School of Medicine, and made it possible for residents of the region to benefit from the Permanent University Fund – a public endowment contributing support to the University of Texas System and other institutions.

UTRGV has campuses and off-campus research and teaching sites throughout the Rio Grande Valley including in Boca Chica Beach, Brownsville (formerly The University of Texas at Brownsville campus), Edinburg (formerly The University of Texas-Pan American campus), Harlingen, McAllen, Port Isabel, Rio Grande City, and South Padre Island. UTRGV, a comprehensive academic institution, enrolled its first class in the fall of 2015, and the School of Medicine welcomed its first class in the summer of 2016.