2020 Annual Report

Wayne Roberts
Chief Executive Officer, CPRIT

Letter From the CEO

The work initiated in 2007 with Texas’ historic decision to invest $3 billion for cancer research and prevention continued unabated in fiscal year 2020.  Over this past year, CPRIT awarded 134 grants to 31 institutions, community organizations, and companies totaling $254 million.  CPRIT is improving the health and quality of life for Texans in all 254 counties.

An early indicator that Texas’ investment is working is the 8.2% drop in the state’s cancer death rate between 2011 – 2017, which translates to 11,375 deaths averted.  As CPRIT enters its second decade, we remain true to our three-part statutory mission to invest in the state’s research prowess, create and expand life science infrastructure across Texas, and expedite innovation in cancer research and prevention strategies.

The 2020 fiscal year began with Texas voters overwhelmingly approving Proposition 6, dedicating another $3 billion to accelerate the momentum in the state’s fight against cancer through the next decade.  CPRIT is now a $6 billion, 20-year initiative—the second largest funder of cancer research behind only the federal government and the largest state funded cancer research and prevention program in U.S. history.  

Even with such an auspicious start, 2020 also brought an unprecedented challenge as the COVID-19 pandemic swept the globe.  Although CPRIT and our grantees adapted quickly, the transition to working remotely or in a limited capacity while making progress on cancer research and prevention projects was daunting.  This year’s report includes a section dedicated to CPRIT and the cancer community’s response to the barriers brought by COVID-19 and its devastating impact on cancer prevention efforts that will affect Texans for years to come.  

In a testament to the power of science to confront a global health crisis, we are gratified that cancer research and instruments funded by CPRIT also played a role in helping to develop COVID-19 treatments and vaccines.  This includes the first 3D atomic scale map of the COVID-19 spike protein by scientists at The University of Texas at Austin.  Pharmaceutical companies used their discovery for the antigen in the COVID-19 vaccines available now.  

CPRIT’s COVID-19 story is not the only new feature in the 2020 annual report. This is the first time that we present our report exclusively in an online format.  This platform allows us to showcase the tremendous work that CPRIT grantees are doing throughout the state.  Our grantees make prevention and cures for cancer possible with every advancement.  More than 60 examples throughout the report provide an opportunity to learn more about promising research, accelerated development, and prevention strategies undertaken by institutions, organizations, and companies across Texas.  

The many stories showing how CPRIT is extending lives and improving the health of Texans also serve as a reminder about how important CPRIT’s $2.64 billion investment in 1,576 awards is to Texans.  Despite advances made in Texas and globally in the war on cancer, this insidious disease remains the leading cause of death for Texans under the age of 85, with 127 people dying from cancer every day in the state.  More children and adolescents die from cancer in Texas than any other disease.

As if the tragic emotional and physical toll of cancer is not enough, the economic impact is staggering.  Cancer cost the state $44.7 billion in direct medical costs and mortality losses in 2020.  This is $2.2 billion more than 2019 and $4.4 billion more than 2018.  Given Texas’ emerging demographics and growing population, the state’s cost of cancer is unlikely to decline until scientists translate groundbreaking discoveries into widely available treatments and prevention screenings are accessible to all Texans.  

CPRIT’s investments connect universities, researchers, physicians, companies, hospitals, and clinics across Texas forming a critical infrastructure backbone of distinguished cancer-fighting talent.  CPRIT is proud to facilitate this connectivity—our projects create high quality jobs, support critical lab assets, and along the way, help thousands of cancer patients extend their lives.  Promised benefits are delivered today.

As you examine the social, economic, and personal impacts of CPRIT’s activities, remember that the Institute and its grantees provide these benefits with an extraordinarily low overhead.  Our grantees may not spend more than five percent of grant funds on indirect costs.  Similarly, the Institute’s overhead is less than seven percent of the total amount appropriated to the agency annually.  When considered in the context of CPRIT’s $1.4 billion active grant portfolio, our annual operational costs are slightly more than one percent of total funds under management.

We are grateful for those constantly striving to reduce the burden of cancer across Texas.  Their dedication and support inspire us in our efforts.  On behalf of the Oversight Committee and staff, we appreciate the opportunity to have made 2020 another productive year.  Through CPRIT and in thousands of personal ways, Texans Conquer Cancer.

Wayne R. Roberts
Chief Executive Officer

FY 2020 Highlights

Building on the momentum launched by Texas voters 13 years ago and reauthorized by a decisive statewide vote on November 5, 2019, CPRIT and its grantees advanced innovative research and prevention efforts across the state. Fiscal year 2020 also presented extraordinary challenges created by the COVID-19 global pandemic.

Our Mission

As Texas’ fight against cancer escalates exponentially, CPRIT’s work remains true to its three-part mission: investing in the research prowess of Texas universities, creating and expanding the infrastructure that sustains the state’s life science ecosystem, and expediting innovation in groundbreaking research and potential breakthroughs in cancer prevention and cures.


Created by Texans, CPRIT carries out its mission through its Academic Research, Prevention, and Product Development Research programs. The appointed members of CPRIT’s governing body, the Oversight Committee, oversee the agency’s administrative and financial activities so that CPRIT can reduce the burden of cancer across the state.

Cost of Cancer

Even without considering cancer’s social and emotional toll, the economic cost of cancer in Texas is staggering. CPRIT plays a vital role as the state’s primary, stable source of cancer research and prevention funding. CPRIT’s efforts also reduce the cost of cancer through treatment cost savings, preserved productivity, and other economic benefits.

Planning and Priorities

Accelerating innovation in cancer research and prevention requires comprehensive planning for current operations as well as longer-term goals. With a solid foundation of research innovation and prevention services built through 10 years of steady investment, CPRIT has positioned the state for new life science opportunities.

Our Commitment to Texans

CPRIT distributes public funds to cure and mitigate cancer with the highest standards of ethics, accountability, efficiency, and transparency. This begins by awarding grants using rigorous, independent, unbiased, merit-based peer review. CPRIT’s Compliance Program oversees all aspects of the grant application review, approval and award administration process to ensure a sound fiscal and organizational foundation.