Center for Advanced Microscopy and Image Informatics

Grant to core facility expands the impact of cancer research in Texas

Texas A&M faculty receive more than $5.7 million for cancer research
November 22, 2017

Two Texas A&M University Health Science Center faculty members have received a $5,793,075 core facilities support award from the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas (CPRIT).  Michael A. Mancini, PhD, professor of cell biology at Baylor College of Medicine and an adjunct professor at the Texas A&M Institute of Biosciences and Technology, and Peter J. Davies, MD, PhD, professor and director of the Institute of Biosciences and Technology are the grant recipients.

Mancini and Davies are leading a multi-institutional research core facility, the Center for Advanced Microscopy and Image Informatics (CAMII), housed jointly at the institute in Houston and Baylor College of Medicine that provides cancer researchers with access to sophisticated light microscopy-based imaging and computational resources. The center is designed to support both basic and translational cancer research in ways that will contribute to the development of new therapies for the prevention and treatment of cancer.

“By promoting highly collaborative and productive partnerships between experts in advanced imaging research and outstanding cancer researchers, CAMII will support CPRIT’s goal of promoting innovation in cancer research and accelerating the development of breakthroughs in the search for new ways to prevent or to treat cancer,” Mancini said. “The investment from CPRIT is really important to grow our equipment resources, and the support of our scientific staff. The ability to rapidly image three-dimensional structures requires a new generation of imaging platforms; this grant will provide us with the resources and expertise we need to accelerate the scale and the scope of cancer-based drug discovery research.”

CAMII is part of a growing trend in academic research to create multi-institutional research cores that provide centralized, shared research facilities available to researchers from multiple institutions. These shared core facilities provide researchers with access to sophisticated instruments, technologies and services needed to tackle complex questions in contemporary cancer research. By assembling teams of experts drawn from multiple institutions, these cores enable researchers to have the expertise necessary to study the cellular and molecular biology of cancer.

“Scientists need to have access to specialized, state-of-the-art expertise and equipment to answer their questions when developing new drugs and understanding their mechanism of action,” Davies said. “Instead of asking each scientist to develop these capabilities in their own laboratory, it is more efficient and economical to develop centralized core facilities that provide investigators with access to the best technical support at the lowest cost. Cores are a very efficient way to enable investigators to incorporate cutting-edge research technologies into their research studies, enabling them to gain insights that might be unavailable to them using more standard approaches.”

CPRIT has been tasked by the Texas Legislature to create and expedite cancer research innovation, expand research capabilities and continual development of the state’s cancer plan for research, prevention and control. CPRIT’s core facility support awards are for scientifically meritorious cancer research projects that support potentially high-impact cancer studies.

“We are delighted to receive this grant that serves the need for multi-institutional researchers,” Davies said. “We are very excited about the program and what it will accomplish for Texas A&M’s researchers and those from other institutions.”

— Tamim Choudhury

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