Dr. Mingjiang Xu receives UT System award to support cancer epigenetics research

Mingjiang Xu, MD, PhD, professor of molecular medicine, was awarded a $1 million UT System Faculty STARs award to enhance cancer epigenetics research and support the discovery of targeted therapeutics for blood cancers.

Dr. Xu said the award will be used to develop the infrastructure needed to create a unique cancer epigenetics research program at UT Health San Antonio.

“This will allow UT Health San Antonio to remain at the forefront of research into epigenetics and blood cancers and bring new potential treatments to our patients and the South Texas community,” said Dr. Xu, the San Antonio Cancer Council Distinguished Chair in Oncology at the Mays Cancer Center, home to UT Health San Antonio MD Anderson.

Dr. Xu researches transcriptional and epigenetic control of normal and malignant hematopoiesis, which is the development and formation of blood cells. He said this award will support the exploration of underdeveloped areas of cancer epigenetics research, with a focus on blood cancers such as leukemia, lymphoma and myeloma.

“This award will help ensure our success in understanding the roles of epigenetic changes in normal and malignant blood cells, providing insights into cancer transcription regulation via DNA/RNA hydroxymethylation and long non-coding RNA (lncRNA)-mediated long-range chromosome interaction,” he said.

Dr. Xu joined UT Health San Antonio in July 2019. He recently received an Individual Investigator Award of $900,000 from the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas (CPRIT). The topic is “Role of HOTTIP lncRNA in Leukemogenesis.” This funding was part of the more than $10.3 million awarded to the Mays Cancer Center by CPRIT in August.

“It is a great honor to receive the UT System Faculty STARs award. It will catalyze the depth and scope of our cancer epigenetics research and training programs. This award will exert a broader impact on the ability to develop novel epigenetic-focused therapeutics for blood cancers,” he said.

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