The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley has announced a major investment that could bring cutting-edge cancer research to South Texas and improve treatment for local residents.

The Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas has awarded a $2.5 million grant to UTRGV’s new Cancer and Surgery Center’s Integrated Cancer Research Core facility. In addition, the center will receive advisory services from the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, one of the world leaders in oncology research and care.

It will be one of the primary facilities at the university’s new McAllen Academic Medical Campus on east Pecan Boulevard. It will be the only facility of its kind in deep South Texas.

University officials say the 100,000-square-foot center will undertake cancer research projects as well as train medical students in cancer treatment. It will provide clinical research and address underserved clinical services in medical, radiation and surgical oncology, as well as offer outpatient surgery and other support services, according to a UTRGV news release.

Construction is scheduled to begin next spring, with completion targeted for spring 2024.

The value of such services is obvious in an area where current oncology offerings don’t meet the demand and are generally limited to patient care. Moreover, the Valley has higher rates of many cancers and because of insufficient services, many cases aren’t diagnosed until they are in advanced stages, according to UTRGV medical school Dean Michael Hocker.

“Unfortunately, most everyone has had a family member or friend who has been affected by cancer,” Hocker said in a statement. “Soon, we’ll have a center in our backyard that will provide first-rate cancer care from diagnosis through treatment. The complex also will provide more opportunities to expand the important cancer research being conducted by our School of Medicine.”

The involvement of the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center is especially fortunate; the Houston-based center is acknowledged as one of the world’s top cancer research and treatment facilities. We can expect Valley researchers and medical students to receive the best, most current information on cancer diagnosis and care.

Under the cooperative agreement, M.D. Anderson will provide advice regarding clinical operations; recruitment of oncologists and support staff for radiation, surgery and other procedures; consultations, second opinions and other virtual care services through links to the Houston center; equipment design and programming and education for both staff and patients, among other services. This helps assure that Valley students and research will get the best information available, and Valley patients will get the best possible care.

It suggests that our young medical school continues to inspire the kind of confidence from the medical services industry that they’re willing to invest in. It also helps address the shortage of medical attention and health care professionals that have plagued South Texas for far too long.

It’s a welcome change.


$2.5M awarded for UTRGV cancer research facility