In his Texas A&M University lab, 34-year-old researcher Feng Qiao chips away at figuring out a way to turn off enzyme telomerase in cancer cells, which could lead to a cure of most cancers.
"We're hoping we can achieve that goal in the next 10 years, and we're getting closer," said Qiao, an assistant professor of biochemistry and biophysics, from his office this week.
On Tuesday, he and six other researchers within the A&M System stood beside a check for $2.7 million for cancer research and prevention efforts.
The Austin-based Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas presented the awards at a ceremony in the atrium of Texas A&M's Interdisciplinary Life Sciences Building.
Established in 2007 by voters, the institute provides money for cancer-related research and prevention efforts to Texas-based researchers.
It's touted as making Texas a leader in state funding of cancer research. The Constitutional Amendment that created it called for $3 billion in funding spread over 10 years through the sale of bonds.
"The state stepped up to the plate and took bold, decisive action -- action that is unparalleled by any other state in the country," said Rebecca Garcia, CPRIT chief prevention officer.
Jeffrey Seemann, chief research officer for the A&M System and Texas A&M University vice president for research, said in 2007 -- the last year complete data is available -- cancer cost the state $21.9 billion, and the nation $220 billion, and claimed 37,000 lives in Texas in 2010.