Researchers at The University of Texas at Dallas are making strides in the quest to understand, treat and ultimately cure cancer.

The decision to invest in cancer research was not top-down, said Joseph Pancrazio, director of research at UT Dallas. Rather, researchers feel compelled to tackle the issue because of the ample funding available and the potential to make a far-reaching impact, he said.

Scientists then seek out UT Dallas’ facilities and laboratories, Pancrazio added.

“All of those things create an ecosystem that is terrific for supporting and enabling this state-of-the-art cancer research,” he said.

Funding for cancer research is in large part derived from federal and state sources, Pancrazio said. Since 2010, UT Dallas researchers have received $14.6 million from Cancer Prevention & Research Institute of Texas, according to the university.

Research endeavors at UT Dallas are also strengthened through a partnership with comprehensive cancer center UT Southwestern Medical Center.

Pancrazio said his team hopes to advance the partnership through the creation of a joint biomedical engineering and science building on the UT Southwestern campus.

“Over the next several years, it will be very exciting what we develop together,” he said.

An effort to fund the facility died on the Texas Senate floor earlier this year when lawmakers chose not to fund tuition revenue bonds, Pancrazio said. But the university is determined to find another way to pay for the building, he said.

“It’s too good of an idea—it makes too much sense,” he said.

A segment of that facility would be dedicated to the development of new cancer drugs—an effort headed up by chemistry professor Vladimir Gevorgyan.

“This is really big in terms of public impact but also addressing the burden associated with cancer, not just studying it,” Pancrazio said.

Type of cancer: Breast

Associate professor of bioengineering Kenneth Hoyt is developing a 3D ultrasound imaging system to improve breast cancer detection by rapidly processing data for real-time feedback.
Funding amount: $326,124
Funding source: National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering

Type of cancer: Brain

Assistant professor of physics Lloyd Lumata is developing a noninvasive imaging technique that could detect glioblastomas earlier and with more accuracy.
Funding amount: $200,000
Funding source: Cancer Prevention & Research Institute of Texas

Type of cancer: multiple types

Bioengineering professor Baowei Fei is developing a noninvasive smart surgical microscope that could predict the presence of cancer cells during surgery with up to 90% accuracy.
Funding amount: $1.6 million
Funding source: Cancer Prevention & Research Institute of Texas