Head of Texas A&M IBT elected chair of CPRIT’s University Advisory Committee
Acknowledging the integral function of academia in the advancement of cancer research and prevention efforts across the state, the University Advisory Committee (UAC) of the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas (CPRIT) voted Cheryl Lyn Walker, Ph.D., director of the Texas A&M Health Science Center Institute of Biosciences and Technology (IBT), as chair of UAC. Walker was nominated to the committee by John Sharp, chancellor of The Texas A&M University System, in January of this year.
The eight-member UAC was established as part of the CPRIT statute to advise the Oversight Committee on the role of higher education in cancer research and provide perspective for the agency from the academic cancer research community. Members of the committee include representatives of all public university systems and private research universities in Texas.
“Through Dr. Walker’s visionary leadership, the Texas A&M IBT is leading the way in translating research advances made across the A&M System into clinical practice,” said Brett P. Giroir, M.D., executive vice president and CEO of the Texas A&M Health Science Center. “A renowned scientist and national leader in environmental health, she is, without a doubt, the perfect candidate to lead a committee focused on merging academia and state initiatives together toward a common goal of eradicating cancer, and thus providing better quality of life for people across the globe.”
In 2007, Texas voters approved a constitutional amendment that led to the establishment of CPRIT and authorized the state to issue $3 billion in bonds to fund groundbreaking cancer research and prevention programs. CPRIT accepts applications and awards grants for a wide variety of cancer-related research and for the delivery of cancer prevention programs and services by public and private entities in Texas.
“Cancer is the second leading cause of death in Texas, and accounts for nearly one in every four deaths across the U.S.,” Walker said. “I am eager to join forces with other leading academicians from across Texas to fulfill CPRIT’s mission of finding and funding the best cancer research, learning how to better prevent this deadly disease, and moving research advances into the clinic and community by fostering translation of cutting-edge discoveries and product development.”
The Texas A&M IBT, located in Houston’s Texas Medical Center, ranks nationally among the nation’s top scientific producers in translating innovative discoveries into clinical practice for the benefit of patients. Of note, the institute has received significant external support, including the $12 million CPRIT-funded Texas Screening Alliance for Cancer Therapeutics (TxSACT). Additionally, the institute’s current cancer research includes a novel field-to-clinic approach aimed at preventing cancer with food; studies focusing on the link between genetics and environmental disease; and discoveries that will aid in a more accurate prognosis for prostate cancer patients.
In addition to her role at the Texas A&M IBT, Walker holds the endowed Welch Chair in Chemistry and joint positions in the College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences at Texas A&M University and the Department of Systems Biology at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center. She has a Ph.D. in cell biology from The University of Texas Health Science Center (Southwestern Medical School) in Dallas. Her research is in the genetics and epigenetics of cancer, and has garnered substantial recognition, including the 2010 Cozzarelli Prize for Biological Sciences from the National Academy of Sciences and the Dallas/Fort Worth Living Legend Achievement Award in Basic Research. Walker is a past-president of both the 7,000-member Society of Toxicology and Women in Cancer Research of the American Association for Cancer Research, and is an elected member of the Academy of Toxicological Sciences and Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.