Greehey CCRI Facts & Milestones

GCCRI Building


  • One of only two institutes in the US dedicated solely to pediatric cancer research
  • 100,000 sqft of space, Greehey CCRI is the largest free-standing childhood cancer research facility in Texas
  • 380+ collective years of faculty PhD-level research experience
  • 120+ principal investigators and researchers
  • 47 PhDs.
  • 19 Research labs
  • 14 administrative and operational support staff


  • 2000 Pilot grant program launched with $2M in research awards
  • 2000 $2.2M technology investment
  • 2001 Ground broken for research facility
  • 2002 Sharon B. Murphy, MD, named first Greehey CCRI director
  • 2003 research facility completed
  • 2004  Launch of research operations
  • 2017 Five new PIs hired (largest recruitment since first open)
    • Myron Ignatius, PhD, Assistant Professor, Molecular Medicine
      • The Ignatius laboratory is interested in understanding the effects of tumor heterogeneity on relapse and resistance to therapies in Rhabdomyosarcoma and other sarcomas. Relapse is a significant problem in the clinic where less than 40% of patients with relapse will survive their disease. Rhabdomyosarcoma is a pediatric malignancy of the muscle that is also the most common soft tissue sarcoma in children. Specifically, the Ignatius laboratory will study tumorigenic cell populations that self-renew and metastasize using a combination of zebrafish, murine xenograft, and human cell culture systems.
    • Katsumi Kitagawa, PharmD, PhD, Associate Professor, Molecular Medicine
      • Our research goal is to understand the role of aneuploidy (chromosome loss or gain) in childhood cancer development. We are currently investigating the mechanism of CIN (chromosome instability) in pediatric tumors.
    • Yogesh Gupta, PhD, Assistant Professor, Biochemistry & Structural Biology
      • Our studies seek to provide a complete and coherent picture of an emerging area of RNA epigenetics at the molecular and atomic levels. The final goal is to develop novel anticancer therapeutics targeting the human RNA methylome and other nucleoprotein assemblies. We employ leading-edge structural biology methods such as X-ray crystallography, NMR, cryo-EM in combination with an array of other biophysical and chemical biology tools, to elucidate structures and mechanisms of large nucleoprotein complexes central to normal homeostasis and childhood cancers.
    • David Libich, PhD, Assistant Professor, Biochemistry & Structural Biology
      • Protein interactions mediate all cellular functions, activities, and communications. Despite their crucial importance, we know relatively little about many of these interactions due in large part to experimental limitations of structural biology. The central theme of my lab revolves around the determination of the structure and elucidation of the molecular mechanisms of highly dynamic and transient protein interactions. Our current efforts are focused on understanding the assembly and functional interactions of the low-complexity domains of RNA-binding proteins involved in cancer and neurodegenerative processes. In particular, we are interested in the oncogenic fusion protein EWS-Fli1 and the structural implications of its role as the sole driver of Ewing’s sarcoma. These types of proteins are challenging targets for biophysical characterization due to their extreme structural heterogeneity and propensity to aggregate.
      • Xiaojing Wang, PhD, Assistant Professor, Population Health Sciences
        • Our research focuses on developing novel computational tools for integrative analyses of proteomic and genomic data to help advance our understanding of cancer biology.
      • Siyuan Zheng, PhD, Assistant Professor, Population Health Sciences
        •  We use genomic and proteomic data to understand the mechanisms behind the initiation, progression, treatment responses of pediatric and adult cancers. Our research is focused on identifying aberrations in cancer, including single nucleotide variations, insertions, deletions, DNA and RNA structural rearrangements, DNA copy number alterations that facilitate the various aspect of the cancer ecosystem.
        • May 2016 The Greehey Children’s Cancer Research Institute at the Health Science Center garnered $10.9 million from the Cancer Prevention & Research Institute of Texas (CPRIT) ―a larger amount than any other academic institution in the state.
          • $5 million to develop animal models that can be used to test new therapies in children whose cancer has relapsed or who are from minority groups that typically have not responded well to current treatments.
          • $3.6 million to update and expand upon existing infrastructure to establish a Cancer Genome Sequencing and Computational Core available to the South Texas research community through the Health Science Center.
          • $2 million for the recruitment of Myron Ignatius, Ph.D., from Massachusetts General Hospital/Harvard Medical School. Dr. Ignatius has developed a genetic model of a type of soft tissue cancer called embryonal rhabdomyosarcoma in children.
          • $200,000 to develop a strategy to target EWS-FLl-1, a fusion oncoprotein that causes Ewing sarcoma, a bone, and soft tissue cancer in children. The grant was awarded to Yuzuru Shiio, M.D., Ph.D., associate professor of biochemistry.