Speech explores cancer

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The challenges and opportunities in cancer research in Texas are progressing with the establishment of a new cancer research institute, a topic addressed by a Nobel Prize-winning biochemist in his presentation at the AT&T Executive Education and Conference Center on Tuesday.

Alfred Gilman addressed the need for a stronger science base in Texas and how that will influence cancer research and
prevention.

“Impact often comes from innovation,” Gilman said. “We’re interested in taking and sharing risks, and we will do that if our investigators have a significant impact.”

Gilman, the chief scientific officer of the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas, ensures the grant monies fund experiments to discover more effective ways to prevent, diagnose and treat cancer.

“There will never be a cure for cancer — there will be hundreds of cures for hundreds and hundreds of different types of cancers and diseases,” Gilman said. “Cancer is many different diseases — that is all being very well-defined now.”

Gilman’s presentation was part of a monthly speaker series put on by the Austin Forum of Science, Technology and Society.

“The series covers everything — from issues on energy to video game design and holographic image technology,” said Faith Singer-Villalobos, spokeswoman for Texas Advanced Computing Center.

Jay Boisseau, director of the Texas Advanced Computing Center and one of the sponsors of The Austin Forum’s speaker series, followed Gilman’s research after being affiliated with the same university and being exposed to his research in a variety of different health-science research facilities.

“I thought his work was very interesting, and wanted to work more with it,” Boisseau said. “I realized this was another opportunity to solidify a long-term working relationship with him.”

Gilman’s research became well-known and received the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1994 for his discovery of G proteins and the role they play in regulating cell function, in addition to being elected to the U.S. National Academy of Sciences and receiving the Albert Lasker Basic Medical Research Award, according to the Austin Forum website.

The research institute is a state agency sponsored by the Texas Legislature to invest $3 billion during the next 10 years to “enhance research and prevention activities toward alleviation of suffering and death from cancer.”

The next thing to focus on is training new investigators to properly understand the diseases and the technology used to study and combat them, Gilman said.

“The technology is amazing for sequencing human genomes, and there’s no question that will continue,” Gilman said. “We need to train people to cope with terabytes of data and understand it.”