• November 2023. Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation (ALSF) awarded a renewal grant to continue to support the ALSF/Children’s Oncology Group Childhood Cancer Repository directed by C Patrick Reynolds MD PhD.
  • August 2023. In its latest funding cycle, the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas (CPRIT) awarded grants to four researchers from the Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center (TTUHSC). Combined, the grants will provide nearly $2.3 million that TTUHSC will use to conduct a pair of two-year pilot studies, acquire a state-of-the-art piece of laboratory equipment known as a cell sorter, and administer a colorectal cancer screening and prevention program.

    Three of the recipients are from the TTUHSC School of Medicine, including Hongjun (Henry) Liang, Ph.D., a professor in the Department of Cell Physiology and Molecular Biophysics; Min Kang, Pharm.D., a professor in the TTUHSC Department of Pediatrics; and Komaraiah Palle, Ph.D., a professor in  Department of Cell Biology and Biochemistry. The remaining grant was awarded to Julie St. John, Dr.P.H., an associate professor for the TTUHSC Julia Jones Matthews School of Population and Public Health.

    Liang, who received $200,000 to conduct a two-year pilot study (“Click” Assembled Colloidal Molecules with Tunable Plasmon Bands as Novel Agents for Photothermal Tumor Therapy), will investigate photothermal tumor therapy (PTT), a relatively new treatment option widely viewed as a promising alternative to chemotherapy.

    Palle, who also received a $200,000 grant for a two-year pilot study (“The Role of Renal Lipotoxicity in Carcinogenesis”), will investigate clear cell renal cell carcinoma (ccRCC), the most common and deadliest subtype of kidney cancer. 

    Kang, who also serves as the Associate Director of  the School of Medicine Cancer Center, received two-year, $901,225 grant (“Fluorescence-Activated Cell Sorting: FACSAria Fusion”) to purchase an instrument known as a cell sorter.

    St. John, who also manages TTUHSC's public health degree program in Abilene, received a three-year, $997,266 grant (“ACTION for Big Country”) to address the dearth of colorectal cancer (CRC) screening services available in the Big Country area around Abilene.  
  • August 2023.  The Cancer Center is pleased that Balakrishna Koneru, PhD has joined the Cancer Center and the TTUHSC SOM faculty as an Assistant Professor of Pediatrics.  Dr. Koneru completed his postdoctoral training at TTUHSC. He works on studying molecular mechanisms and potential novel therapies for cancers with the alternative lengthening of telomeres (ALT) phenotype. Dr. Koneru will focus his research efforts on studying ALT in osteogenic sarcoma.
  • May 2023.  Investigators from the Cancer Center presented research papers at the Advances in Neuroblastoma Research meeting in Amsterdam, Netherlands.  This meeting gathers reserachers working on the childhood cancer neuroblastoma every 2 years (www.ANRmeeting.org).  Dr. Kang presented her work on defining gene expression signatures associated with chemotherapy resistance in neuroblastoma.  Dr. Reynolds presented the study of telomere maintenance mechanisms in patients enrolled on the most recently completed Children’s Oncology Group phase III clinical trial for high-risk neuroblastoma.  Dr. Keyel presented her work on the association of loss of GD2 antigen expression with resistance to dinutuximab, and antibody used to treat neuroblastoma.  Dr. Keyel was awarded one of the three prizes given for best presentation at the meeting, the only such award received by any investigator from the USA.
  • May 2023.  Dr. Yangzom Bhutia, a Cancer Center member in the Cell Biology and Biochemistry Department received a 5 year National Cancer Institute RO1 grant. Dr Bhutia’s research and the recently awarded grant focuses on targeting amino acid transporters as potential therapies for pancreatic cancer. Dr. Bhutia is one of the initial junior faculty supported by the Texas Regional Excellence in Cancer (TREC) grant from CPRIT and the first “graduate” of the TREC to secure NCI RO1 funding.
  • February 2023.   The Cancer Center is pleased that Nighat Noureen, PhD has joined the Cancer Center and joined the TTUHSC SOM faculty as an Assistant Professor of Pediatrics. Dr. Noureen completed her postdoctoral fellowship training at UTHSC San Antonio. Dr. Noureen is an expert in bioinformatics and will direct the Cancer Center Biostatistics and Bioinformatics Core.


  • August 2022 Cancer Center investigators published an exciting new paper describing a novel approach to treating cancers that use the alternative lengthening of telomeres (ALT) mechanism to grow. Data in the paper show strong activity of the p53 reactivating drug APR-246 against human ALT neuroblastomas, sarcomas, and breast cancers grown in special mice. The publication is: Cancer Research 82:3345-3358, 2022. PMID: 35947641. 
  • September 2022 Dr. Min Kang received a 5 year, $3.3 million grant from the Cancer Prevention & Research Institute of Texas (CPRIT) to support the West Texas Pharmacology Core. This is a pharmacology core laboratory located at TTUHSC that supports preclinical and clinical research for multiple academic institutions and small biotech companies in Texas.
  • January 2022 The TTUHSC Cancer Center received a 5 year, $1.9 million grant from the National Cancer Institute entitled “Targeting Shared Vulnerabilities in Alternate Telomere Lengthening (ALT) Cancers”. RO1 CA264949, PI: C Patrick Reynolds, MD PhD.


  • September 2021 The TTUHSC Cancer Center received a 5 year, $1.9 million grant from the National Cancer Institute entitled “Robust assays to define telomere maintenance mechanisms as cancer biomarkers ”. UO1 CA263988, PI: C Patrick Reynolds, MD PhD.
  • August 2021   The TTUHSC Cancer Center received a 5 year, $6 million grant from the Cancer Prevention & Research Institute of Texas entitled “Texas Regional Excellence in Cancer Developmental Therapeutics Center at TTUHSC”.  CPRIT RP20042, PI:  C Patrick Reynolds, MD PhD. This grant involves multiple investigators in the TTUHSC School of Medicine and TTUHSC School of Pharmacy, including Min Kang, PharmD, Barry Maurer, MD PhD, Scot Trasti, DVM, Yangzom Bhutia, DVM, V. Ganapathy, PhD, Nadezhda German, PhD, Thomas Abbruscato PhD, Chinnadurai Mani, PhD, Komaraiah Palle, PhD, Devin Lowe, PhD, and Sanjay Srivastava, PhD. This grant will support recruiting new investigators in cancer drug development to TTUHSC.
  • August 2021  TTUHSC Cancer Center investigators published a paper in Science Translational Medicine demonstrating that ATM kinase is activated in neuroblastomas with the alternate lengthening of telomere (ALT) phenotype and that an ATM kinase inhibitor can reverse drug resistance in ALT neuroblastoma cell lines and xenografts.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Koneru B, Farooqi A, Nguyen TH, Chen WH, Hindle A, Eslinger C, Makena MR, Burrow TA, Wilson J, Smith A, Reddy VP, Cadogan E, Durant ST, Reynolds CP:  ALT neuroblastoma chemoresistance due to ATM-dependent telomere dysfunction is reversible with the ATM inhibitor AZD015.    Science Translational Medicine 18:eabd5750, 2021.  PMID:  35508079


  • April 2020  TTUHSC Cancer Center investigators published a paper in Cancer Research that demonstrates telomere maintenance mechanisms provide a novel approach to risk-stratification of high-risk neuroblastoma.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             Koneru B, Lopez G, Farooqi A, Conkrite KL, Nguyen TH, Macha  S, Modi  A, Rokita  JL, Urias E , Hindle A, Davidson H , Mccoy  K, Nance J,  Yezdani  V,  Shengping S,  Wheeler DA , Maris JM, Diskin SJ, Reynolds CP:  Telomere maintenance mechanisms define clinical outcome in high-risk neuroblastoma.     Cancer Research 80:2663-75, 2020.  PMID:  32291317
  • May 2020  TTUHSC Cancer Center investigators published a paper in Cell Death & Disease that demonstrates the transcription factor OCT4 mediates MYC transcriptional activation and causes resistance to 13-cis-retinoic acid in neuroblastoma.  This paper also describes a novel mechanism for the activation of MYC that likely applies to other cancer types.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 Wei SJ, Nguyen TH, Mook DG, Makena MR, Verlekar D, Hindle A, Martinez G, Yang S, Shimada H, Reynolds CP, Kang MH:   MYC transcription activation mediated by OCT4 as a mechanism of resistance to 13-cisRA-mediated differentiation in neuroblastoma.  Cell Death & Disease, 11:368, 2020  PMID:  32409685  PMCID: PMC7224192


January Updates

  • Jan 2019:  Drs. Min Kang and C Patrick Reynolds were awarded a 5 year $1.9 million RO1 grant (CA232591) from the National Cancer Institute to study MYC activation mechanisms in neuroblastoma.


  • Aug 2018:  Dr. Sanjay Awasthi, Program Director for Clinical Oncology in the Cancer Center, was awarded a 3 year  $1.1 million grant from the Department of Defense to study haploinsufficiency of RALBP1 in breast cancer.

  •  Aug 2018:  Dr. C Patrick Reynolds was awarded a 5 year RO1 $1.7 million grant (CA21751) from the National Cancer Institute to study alternate telomere lengthening mechanisms in neuroblastoma as a prognostic biomarker and a novel therapeutic target.

  • May  2018:  Bala Koneru, a PhD student in Dr. Reynolds laboratory was selected to present his work on telomerase and alternate telomere lengthening (ALT) in neuroblastoma as a plenary session talk at the Advances in Neuroblastoma Research Meeting  San Francisco, CA .
  • January 2018: Alex's Lemonade Stand Foundation has awarded a grant providing 5 years of support for the Childhood Cancer Repository, powered by Alex's Lemonade Stand Foundation that is housed in the TTUHSC Cancer Center (www.CCcells.org). This laboratory, in collaboration with the Children's Oncology Group, establishes, banks, and distributes childhood cancer cell lines and patient-derived xenografts (PDXs) to > 450 laboratories in 28 countries. The outstanding commitment of ALSF to this important repository will insure it continues to be an important resource lab for the COG and for many pediatric oncology investigators world-wide.


December Updates

  • December 2017: C Patrick Reynolds MD PhD and Min Kang PharmD were awarded a $1.6 million grant from the National Cancer Institute entitled Genomic and functional characterization of a panel of neuroblastoma patient-derived xenografts and cell lines. This grant will enable extensive characterization of large panel of neuroblastoma models that are established, banked, and distributed by the Childhood Cancer Repository, which is housed at TTUHSC and is in collaboration with ALSF and COG.

November Updates

  • November 2017: St Baldricks has again awarded to the TTUHSC Cancer Center an infrastructure grant to support conduct of clinical trials in childhood cancer. The grant supports a clinical research associate who is part of the team providing access to clinical trials for children in our region and also making clinical trials of novel agents available to many institutions via the SPOC consortium (www.SPONC.org).

September Updates

June Updates

  • Jun 2017: A paper describing a collaboration between Dr. C Patrick Reynolds and investigators in Australia led by Dr. Roger Reddel was published in Cell Reports. The paper reports that some neuroblastoma cell lines established from patients with progressive disease can proliferate for many generations of cells with no demonstrable mechanism for maintaining telomeres. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28636942

April Updates

  • April 2017: TTUHSC Cancer Center faculty member Dr. Barry Maurer was senior author on a paper in Clinical Cancer Research reporting results from a phase I trial of intravenous fenretinide in adults with hematological cancers. The paper documents remarkable activity of intravenous fenretinide in peripheral T cell lymphomas, with multiple sustained complete responses observed. The phase I study led to an ongoing phase II study of intravenous fenretinide in peripheral T cell lymphomas. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28420721
  • April 2017: Dr. Monish Makena, who just completed his PhD studies in Dr. Reynolds laboratory published a paper in Molecular Cancer Therapeutics demonstrating synergy in cell culture and enhanced anti-cancer activity from combining the cytotoxic retinoid fenretinide with the histone deacetylase (HDAC) inhibitor romidepsin in lymphoid malignancies, especially in T cell lymphomas and leukemias. This paper informs potential future drug combination clinical trials. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27530131

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