Thursday, August 30, 2007

Texas Set to Take on Cancer

The News of the Week piece in the latest issue of Science has the encouraging news that the state of Texas is gearing up to launch a war against cancer. Here is an excerpt from the article entitled "CANCER RESEARCH: Texas Voters Asked to Approve $3 Billion Cancer Initiative" (by Jocelyn Kaiser):

Texas is planning a biomedical research initiative fit for a state where everything is bigger: a $3 billion pot of money for its scientists to wage war against cancer. Legislation signed by Governor Rick Perry in June would create a cancer institute to manage the 10-year program, funded through state bonds. If voters approve the November ballot measure, the amount of money awarded annually will easily top the $226 million in grants that the state received last year from the National Cancer Institute (NCI).

...A friend of former governor Ann Richards, Austin business executive Cathy Bonner, came up with the idea of a cancer research initiative after the popular Democrat died last year from esophageal cancer. Bonner says she was aware of California's stem cell initiative and thought "now's the time" to do something similar for cancer research, which she felt needed a "big vision" in a time of flat federal funding. She joined with Armstrong's foundation and other groups and pitched it to Perry. By May, the legislature had voted to convert the state's cancer-prevention agency into the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas and to give it authority to fund scientific research on "all types of cancer in humans." Voters are being asked on 6 November to approve the sale of $3 billion in bonds to fund the institute, which would give priority to matching grants, those promising economic benefits, and collaborations. Up to 10% of the funds can be spent on prevention and 5% on facilities; the first grants would be awarded in 2010.