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Cancer Agency Awards Grant to Recruit New Faculty in Chemistry

Cancer Agency Awards Grant to Recruit New Faculty in Chemistry

The Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas (CPRIT) Oversight Committee recently awarded a recruitment grant for Ku-Lung "Ken" Hsu, a chemist joining The University of Texas at Austin. The CPRIT Scholar recruitment grant program attracts established and up-and-coming researchers to Texas institutions to advance their cancer-related research.

Hsu will join the Department of Chemistry in Spring 2023 as an associate professor and the Stephen F. and Fay Evans Martin Endowed Professorship in Chemistry Fellow. The chemical biologist earned his Ph.D. at UT Austin and is currently an associate professor at the University of Virginia (UVA). His research program focuses on the development of covalent bioactive molecules to elucidate protein and lipid biology impacting human disease with a focus on cancer and immunology.

"I was truly honored to be awarded the CPRIT grant," Hsu said. "I anticipated with much excitement the transformative impact of this accolade on my career and research program."

While at UVA, Hsu and his team of researchers developed sulfur-triazole exchange (SuTEx) chemistry, a name fitting for the lone star state, to accelerate preclinical drug discovery efforts for challenging protein targets of interest (sometimes referred to as 'undruggable'). The CPRIT Award will enable Hsu to apply his innovative SuTEx platform to reveal and capitalize on cancer vulnerabilities by disrupting tumor-specific stress coping mechanisms for precision medicine.

"I am excited to join the vibrant UT Austin community and explore existing and new research directions on a completely different scale" Hsu said.

"We are delighted that Ken will bring his innovative efforts to explore and develop new cancer inhibitors to UT Austin," said Jenny Brodbelt, chair of the Department of Chemistry. "He will provide key leadership in our growth area of chemical biology."

Hsu completed his postdoctoral training in chemical biology at The Scripps Research Institute before joining the faculty at UVA. His research program has been recognized by several awards including the NIH K99/R00 Pathway to Independence Award, Department of Defense Congressionally Directed Medical Research Programs Career Development Award, Melanoma Research Alliance Young Investigator Award, the NSF CAREER Award and the Emerging Leader Award from The Mark Foundation for Cancer Research. To support establishing Hsu's research lab at UT Austin, CPRIT awarded $4 million.

CPRIT was created by the Texas Legislature and approved by a statewide vote in 2007 to lead the Lone Star State's fight against cancer. In 2019, Texas voters again voted overwhelmingly to continue CPRIT with an additional $3 billion for a total $6 billion investment in cancer research and prevention. To date, CPRIT has awarded over $3 billion in grants to Texas research institutions and organizations through its academic research, prevention and product development research programs. UT Austin has received 81 grants for over $121 million dollars for cancer research and prevention. 

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Monday, 26 September 2022

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