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Kansas Bioscience Authority Awards $9.2M to University of Kansas Cancer Center


10/12/2010 12:14:14 PM

Kansas City Business Journal -- The Kansas Bioscience Authority on Monday awarded $9.5 million in financing, most of which will go to the University of Kansas Cancer Center.

The Cancer Center will receive a total of $9.17 million during the next five years to bring five scholars to the program.

More than $2 million of that will be used to bring on Dr. Kapil Bhalla as the center’s deputy director and professor of internal medicine. Bhalla comes from Medical College of Georgia and specializes in novel therapeutics for lymphoma, leukemia and breast cancer.

KU Cancer Center will receive another $1.45 million to bring Dr. Shrikant Anant from the University of Oklahoma. Anant will serve as the center’s associate director for prevention and professor of molecular and integrative physiology. His research focus is gastrointestinal cancer.

Both Bhalla and Anant were named eminent scholars by the KBA. The organization’s eminent scholars program is designed to help recruit world-class and established people who have received national recognition for their research, accomplishments and ability to get significant amounts of federal funding every year, according to the KBA website. The KBA provides financing that must be matched by the proposing institution.

“If you look at just our eminent scholars program alone, $4.5 million in KBA funds expended have been used to attract $52.8 million in external funding to Kansas,” Tom Thornton, KBA president, said in a release. “This work is paying off big and will result in new discoveries that will drive economic growth and improve health care throughout Kansas.”

The KBA also awarded the center $5.67 million during the next five years to attract three more scholars, currently unnamed. The scholars will serve as associate directors of translational research, basic science and Phase I trials.

Combined, the five scholars receive $1.7 million each year from the National Cancer Institute. Employing scholars with NCI funding is a critical step in gaining NCI designation, which the KU Cancer Center plans to apply for in September of next year.

So far this fiscal year, the KBA has contributed $10.8 million to KU Cancer Center to help attract high-profile scholars to the Kansas City, Kan., campus in an effort to enhance the center’s NCI bid. That includes the Monday awards plus $780,000 during three years to bring on Dr. Liang Xu and $850,000 during five years to bring on Dr. Daotai Nie.

The KBA also approved a $347,550 investment in Orbis Biosciences, based in Kansas City, Kan., to support Orbis’ development and commercialization. The financing is a partial match to a National Institutes of Health Small Business Innovation Research grant worth $695,173, according to the release.



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