Jennifer C. Molokwu, M.D., M.P.H. (lf) and Jessica Calderón-Mora, Dr.P.H.

CPRIT Awards $1.9 Million Grant to TTUHSC El Paso

The Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas (CPRIT) has awarded four new grants to the Texas Tech University System totaling over $6 million, including a $1.9 million grant to Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center El Paso.

TTUHSC El Paso’s prevention grant will go toward Tiempo de Vacunarte 2 (Time to Get Vaccinated Two), a cancer prevention program that focuses on cancers caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV).

The program is directed by co-principal investigators Jennifer C. Molokwu, M.D., M.P.H., an associate professor and director of medical student education in the Department of Family and Community Medicine at TTUHSC El Paso, and Jessica Calderón-Mora, Dr.P.H., a research instructor in the Department of Molecular and Translational Medicine’s Center of Emphasis in Cancer and a clinical instructor in the Department of Family and Community Medicine.

The program will expand efforts to make HPV vaccinations available to uninsured or underinsured residents of El Paso, Hudspeth, Culberson and Brewster Counties.

HPV vaccines have been proven to be highly effective in preventing HPV infections, according to the National Cancer Institute. HPV is a group of related viruses, and infections from some types of HPV can cause cervical, anal, oropharyngeal, penile, vulvar and vaginal cancers.

Cervical cancer is most often caused by HPV. According to the NCI, El Paso County has a rate of 10.3 cases of cervical cancer per 100,000 females, significantly worse than the U.S. rate of 7.5 cases per 100,000.

Tiempo de Vacunarte 2 will create outreach across a network of 175 community sites, as well as expansion to new sites, including school districts, community centers, clinics, faith-based organizations, food banks, city/county services, local and state health departments, and other community-based organizations.

To date, CPRIT has awarded $2.4 billion in grants to Texas research institutions and organizations through its academic research, prevention and product development research programs. CPRIT has recruited 181 distinguished researchers, supported the establishment, expansion or relocation of 36 companies to Texas, and generated over $3 billion in additional public and private investment.

CPRIT funding has advanced scientific and clinical knowledge and provided 5.7 million life-saving cancer prevention and early detection services reaching Texans from all 254 counties.

In May 2019, the Texas Legislature approved a constitutional amendment for the Nov. 5, 2019 general election ballot to authorize an additional $3 billion in bonds for cancer research and prevention.