North Texas Daily

Cancer research across state halted by moratorium

Cancer research across state halted by moratorium

January 30
00:12 2013

Ben Peyton / Senior Staff Writer

Cancer research programs in Texas that are currently looking for funding from the second largest funding source for cancer-related research in the U.S will have to wait, and UNT is no exemption..

In December, the state of Texas requested an audit of the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas, which funds cancer research and prevention programs throughout the state for suspected flaws in the grant approval process, and was placed under a moratorium.

CPRIT has not announced when it anticipates the moratorium to be lifted and applications for grants opened. It will be monitored by the state while changes are made.

Associate professor of chemistry Guido Verbeck was awarded an $181,419 grant from CPRIT before the moratorium was put in place on Dec. 5 to fund research for pancreatic cancer using a nanomanipulator, a device he invented to look at cells individually.

In a letter to members of the CPRIT, Texas governor Rick Perry said “these actions should not impair current contracts.” In contrast, the Oversight Committee has said that “not all contracts have been finalized” for grants that were released from Aug. 2 to Dec. 5, 2012, which could affect Verbeck’s grant.

Verbeck declined to comment and the status of his grant has not yet been decided.

On Oct. 29, 2010, CPRIT announced that it was awarding $200,000 to UNT professor Dr. Pudur Jagadeeswaran to fund research that will determine if zebrafish can be used to develop an early detection method for prostate cancer, said Assistant vice president for University relations, communications and marketing Kelley Reese.

The funds have since been depleted and Jagadeeswaran is still pursuing funding for his research.

“I want to use this model to go further so that I can apply for a larger amount of funding from CPRIT, which I cannot go further right now because of the fact that the moratorium is there,” Jagadeeswaran said.

The Audit Report on Grant Management at the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas and Selected Grantees was released Jan. 28.

A statement from the audit said “the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas (CPRIT) should significantly improve the transparency and accountability of its grant management processes.”

“CPRIT agrees with all 42 recommendations made for the agency, and is modifying its rules and policies to implement these recommendations,” said interim director Wayne Roberts in a letter to state auditor John Keel.

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