Opinion articles

Monday, November 14, 2011

ONLINE FIRST: Sowing Seeds of Hope in Texas

BY Joseph S. Bailes, MD


As a physician, I know there is no greater reward than to be able to offer hope to cancer patients and their families through effective treatments. I am proud that my work on the governing board of the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas (CPRIT) gives me the opportunity to participate in groundbreaking efforts to enhance cancer therapies that will provide hope to the 100,000 Texans who will be diagnosed with cancer this year. 


The citizens of Texas took a bold step in voting to establish CPRIT and authorize the state to issue $3 billion in bonds to fund cancer research and prevention services in Texas in the next decade. The governing board and CPRIT team have worked hard to honor the commitment and trust of the people by creating an organization with the potential to transform cancer treatment in Texas and beyond, to establish Texas as the nation’s leader in cancer research and prevention, to define Texas as a biotechnology hub focused on cancer therapeutic development, and to pioneer an efficient and innovative clinical trial system through a statewide clinical trials network program.


In two years, we at CPRIT have been able to create a cancer prevention and research institute that is delivering high-quality screening and prevention services to Texans and at the same time supporting research and drug development efforts to yield life-saving therapies for millions diagnosed with cancer.  Since beginning operations in September 2009, CPRIT has:

·    Established a lean, efficient organization to evaluate thousands of innovative cancer research project proposals from Texas researchers using a nationally recognized review system made up of panels of distinguished scientists and oncologists to recommend the best projects for funding. All reviewers who evaluate Texas research grants live and work outside the state in order to avoid potential conflicts in the review process.

·    Founded the Statewide Clinical Trials Network of Texas, a clinical trials system linking research institutions and community oncology offices that will give patients across the state access to potentially life-saving drugs and treatments through enrollment in Texas-based clinical trials. This initiative positions Texas to take the lead in cancer clinical research and will fuel commercialization efforts in the state.

·    Educated more than 75,000 Texans and Texas physicians regarding cancer prevention and early detection and screened more than 45,000 Texans for breast, colon and cervical cancer — 75 percent of these individuals never had been checked for the disease.

·    Recruited more than 30 preeminent cancer researchers to academic and research institutions throughout the state with those investigators bringing their world-class research efforts to Texas.

·    Invested $60 million in nine Texas companies that are developing new cancer drugs, diagnostics and treatments.

·    Convened an annual “Innovations in Cancer Prevention and Research” conference to bring together top researchers and prevention experts to share information about their work and innovative approaches to cancer treatment.

Our efforts at CPRIT are guided by the single-minded pursuit of critical goals — to prevent cancer whenever possible; to detect cancer early when science and technology support such detection; to lessen the fear and desperation that often accompanies a cancer diagnosis; and to discover, research, and develop new therapies.  Through these efforts, we are sowing seeds of hope in Texas.


Joseph S. Bailes, MD, a member of OT’s Editorial Board, is the Vice Chairman of the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas Oversight Committee.