The $13 million grant was awarded by the National Cancer Institute
San Juan– In order to strengthen the cumulus of cancer research initiatives, the University of Puerto Rico (UPR) announced today the granting of a $13 million grant to the Medical Sciences Campus and MD Anderson Cancer Center. The project called “University of Puerto Rico Puerto Rico / M.D. Anderson Cancer Center: Partnership for Excellence in Cancer Research ”has a term of five years and was granted by the National Institute of Health (NIH), through the National Cancer Institute (NCI).
“The approval of this grant by the National Cancer Institute will have a great impact on the University and on the island. This project is consistent with the institutional objective of increasing our portfolio in high-level research and that these be financed by external funds. In addition to providing tools to our students and faculty to make them increasingly competitive in submitting proposals and obtaining grants successfully, which in turn provide results for publication in peer-audited journals with a high level of impact. I congratulate all the researchers of our University and MD Anderson Cancer Center who made this achievement possible and who make important contributions to Puerto Rico and the world, as well as to all the collaborators. You are our pride, ”said Dr. Jorge Haddock, president of the UPR.
“Through the grant, the UPR will study infection-induced cancers, develop innovative treatments for patients and prepare doctors and researchers who are experts in cancer in Puerto Rico. This with the purpose of improving the conditions and life expectancy of the members of the community affected by this terrible disease.
“The grant strengthens the vision shared between MD Anderson and the Medical Sciences Campus to eradicate health disparities, specifically cancer. It also helps us promote health equity for underserved communities and populations with socioeconomic disadvantages in Puerto Rico, Texas and elsewhere. The collaboration between both institutions has generated a synergy to share specialized knowledge and achieve mutual benefits in the creation and implementation of integrated initiatives of scientific research, dissemination, education and professional development, ”said Dr. Segundo Rodríguez Quilichini, chancellor of the RCM.
Multidisciplinary research projects will study cancers induced by infections, including human papillomavirus. In addition, an innovative Genomic Data Center will be established, which will be in charge of Dr. Luis Pericchi; a Community Outreach Center, directed by Dr. Vivian Colón; an Evaluation and Planning Center, by Professor Mirza Rivera and the Center for Research Education (REC), led by Dr. Reynold López, Principal Investigator and Dr. Ilka Ríos.
“The REC provides comprehensive educational and research experiences and opportunities in the area of cancer to university students in science, medicine and other health-related careers. Professional development opportunities are also offered for researchers, physicians and health professionals, ”said Dr. Ilka Ríos, Director.
The grant will pay for the development of community outreach initiatives, education and other interventions aimed at reducing the incidence of cancer among Puerto Ricans and Latino groups in Texas and other states.
“For the students of the School of Medicine the project represents two unique opportunities for concurrent programs through which they obtain the Doctor of Medicine Degree from the UPR School of Medicine and the Doctor of Philosophy degree from the Graduate School in MD Anderson Biomedical Sciences, or a Bachelor’s degree combined with a Master’s in Public Health (MPH) from the UTHealth, School of Public Health, ”said Dr. Agustín Rodríguez, Dean of the School of Medicine.
According to Dr. Brad R. Weiner, Principal Investigator of the project, “the partnership between the UPR and MD Anderson has been an important catalyst for the development of cancer research and treatment in Puerto Rico. With this grant, our goal is to have a Cancer Center designated by the National Cancer Institute in Puerto Rico within the next five years. ”
It should be noted that the project will increase the number of Puerto Rican students doing biomedical, medical or population research in cancer, which should result in the development of a new generation of health professionals, scientists and medical scientists, among others.
“We are pleased to receive this grant to continue this partnership, now in its sixteenth year of continuous funding, one of the few grants funded for this period of time. The U54 has generated and fostered a productive partnership between our two large institutions. This benefits the people of Puerto Rico and Texas and inspires the next generation of doctors and scientists, ”concluded Dr. Elizabeth Travis, Principal Investigator at MD Anderson.