AUSTIN, Texas (ValleyCentral) — The Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas (CPRIT) recently awarded nine University of Texas institutions 37 grants totaling $65.4 million, with the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley receiving $6 million, according to a news release from CPRIT.

CPRIT’s oversight committee awarded $18 million in Texas Regional Excellence in Cancer awards to the UTRGV South Texas Center of Excellence in Cancer Research (ST-CECR) in McAllen, along with Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center in El Paso, and Texas A&M University System Health Science Center in Bryan, said the news release.

The $6 million grant to UTRGV will support the ST-CECR, the first CPRIT-supported cancer research center in the region. The center’s focus is reducing cancer health disparities in the border region, which has the nation’s highest cancer incidence and mortality rate.

“This is a major step forward in our fight against cancer in the Valley, and the award reflects the great work our academic medical institution does every day,” said Dr. Michael B. Hocker, Dean of the UTRGV School of Medicine “To have been CPRIT’s recipient solidifies our mission and commitment to providing better healthcare options across the region, along with rending life-changing research and discoveries.”

So far, the agency has awarded over $3 billion in grants to Texas research institutions and organizations through its academic research, prevention, and product development research programs.

CPRIT has also recruited more than 288 distinguished researchers to Texas, supported the establishment, expansion, or relocation of 51 companies to Texas, and supported more than 8.2 million prevention services reaching all counties in Texas, according to the news release.