State Rep. John Zerwas, MD (R-Richmond), encouraged his fellow Texas physician leaders to vote Nov. 5 for Proposition 6, a constitutional amendment designed to extend funding for the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas (CPRIT).
The Texas Legislature and Texas voters launched CPRIT in 2007 with $3 billion in funding. Proposition 6 would extend funding by another $3 billion and keep the agency alive for an estimated 10 additional years.
"It's an incredibly important thing to all of us," Dr. Zerwas told physicians at the 2019 Texas Medical Association Fall Conference on Saturday. "I think it puts Texas in a place that no other state can claim in terms of cancer research and actually curing some of these diseases that are within reach for us."
TMA supports the effort to keep CPRIT alive after its current funding runs out in 2022.
According to CPRIT, the agency has made 1,380 awards totaling about $2.3 billion to support cancer research and prevention efforts on three fronts:
- 72% has gone to accelerating research at Texas institutions. This includes the recruitment of 175 top cancer researchers and their labs, the best-known being James Allison, PhD, who won the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 2018.
- 18% has gone to product development research at early stage and growing life science companies in Texas to develop new drugs, devices, and diagnostics for fighting cancer. To date, CPRIT has provided 40 grants to 34 companies, including 12 companies that have relocated to Texas.
- By statute, at least 10% goes to prevention efforts, such as screening programs that have detected more than 3,600 cancers and 16,200 cancer precursors, giving these individuals a chance in their personal battles against these diseases.
CPRIT clearly has been a sound investment for Texas, says Dr. Zerwas, who co-authored the House joint resolution in the Texas Legislature that led to Proposition 6.
"We are second only to the National Institutes of Health in the amount of money that is contributed to cancer," he said. "That’s an incredible commitment that this state is making."
Texans will vote on 10 proposed amendments to the state constitution on Nov. 5, including Proposition 6. The proposition reads: “The constitutional amendment authorizing the legislature to increase by $3 billion the maximum bond amount authorized for the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas."
Texans can check boxes either for or against the measure.
"If you don't get out to vote for any other reason this November let this be the reason," said Dr. Zerwas, who will be retiring from the legislature Sept. 30 to become executive vice chancellor for health affairs at The University of Texas System.
Look for more information about Proposition 6 and the work CPRIT has done in the October edition of Texas Medicine magazine.
Last Updated On
September 17, 2019