With help from Texas 4000, BME Researchers Focus on Improved Prostate and Colorectal Cancer Treatments

Texas 4000, a non-profit organization that raises funds for cancer research through an annual student bike ride from Austin to Alaska, has granted $50,000 to the Department of Biomedical Engineering. Two professors in the Department of Biomedical Engineering, Hyun Jung Kim and Tim Yeh, have each received $25,000 in seed grants to fund cancer-related research.

hyun jung kim

Dr. Kim will develop a patient-specific colorectal cancer (CRC) model, a CRC-on-a-chip, to contribute to personalized precision medicine. Texas 4000 funding will allow Kim’s team to develop technology that integrates a 3D organoid culture method into their human organs-on-chips platforms. Current colorectal cancer interventions have shown significant progress, but even blockbuster drugs show limited efficacy due to heterogeneity of tumor cells. Genetic mutations and expression of key proteins are vastly different between tumor cells even in a single patient. A patient-specific and physiologically relevant colorectal cancer model could provide an experimental platform to validate personalized, patient-specific therapeutics.

Tim Yeh

Dr. Yeh hopes to find a reliable, rapid, and relatively low-cost means to identify metastatic prostate cancer patients at an early stage. Currently overtreatment is an issue in prostate cancer management because there are no effective biomarkers that can discriminate between castration-resistant patients from low-risk patients. Yeh’s research aims to develop a new biophysical marker for early metastatic prostate cancer detection based on circulating tumor cells from a patient’s blood. Results will provide therapeutic options for effective intervention and will alleviate anxiety as well as financial burdens in future prostate cancer management.

About Texas 4000

Texas 4000 is an annual bike ride where a select group of students from The University of Texas at Austin journey from Austin to Anchorage, Alaska. Cyclists develop leadership skills, engage communities in the fight against cancer, raise money to participate in the ride, which is donated to cancer research. Texas 4000 is a non-profit founded by BME alumnus Chris Condit, who now serves on the group's board of directors.