Texan State-Run Cancer Research Institute Accused of Putting Politics Ahead of Cures


The largest state-run cancer research center, The Cancer Prevention Research Institute of Texas (CPRIT), is fighting for its reputation following a string of bad press relating to its grant review procedures. The institute, which is in charge of $3 billion dollars worth of taxpayer money, has been hit by numerous scandals and accusations that it is putting politics ahead of science. 

A Houston Chronicle investigation into CPRIT has revealed several instances where the proper grant proposal review procedure was not followed and certain commercial projects where favored without scientific review.

Back in June, the Chronicle revealed the dubious review process that led to a $20 million grant being awarded to the M.D Institute for Applied Cancer Science in conjunction with Rice University. Dr. Lynda Chin, the scientific director of the M.D Anderson Institute, submitted a plan in early March for what would be CPRIT's largest awarding grant to date. Jerry Cobbs, CRIT's senior staff member overseeing commercialization grants, questioned the viability of Chin's project suggesting it was not yet "ready" and should be delayed. ABC Local reported that the proposal was just 8 pages long. Dr. Chin, however, was awarded the grant by the end of the month supposedly thanks to the work of M.D Anderson associate and member of the CPRIT oversight committee Charles Tate.

Tate pushed the committee to enact rules that would enable so-called "incubators," organizations within CPRIT that nurture small companies through the drug development process, to dole out grant money without the project-by-project review usually undertaken by the scientific and commercialization committees within CPRIT. Further to this Tate encouraged the M.D Institute to join with a Rice University commercial grant proposal in order for it to circumvent scientific review by the CPRIT panel, then headed by Nobel Laureate Dr. Alfred Gilman.

The Chronicle released the details of more grant-based mishaps last week as they revealed that the agency approved an $11 million grant in 2010 with no scientific or commercial review whatsoever. The grant was awarded to Peloton Therapeutics after commercialization officer at the time, Jerry Cobbs, improperly included the proposal on a list of awards submitted to the oversight committee, despite it not being subject to the necessary review committees. Cobbs has since resigned for undisclosed reasons.

CPRIT was set up in 2007 following overwhelming approval as a ballot measure. Bill Gimson, the institute's director, issued a statement regarding its continuing scandal. "CPRIT must have the trust of our fellow Texans that we are not only doing great work, but that we are also doing everything the right way."

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  1. Not nice to see my alma matter in the news for this cronyism but they deserve it. I was in school at the time the measure funding it passed and they held numerous events promoting it and raising funds for the political campaign on campus. Several were with that giant doucheturd Lance Armstrong.

    1. This was the state constitutional amendment creating this program.

      It overwhelmingly passed of course, cuz cancer and the children and stuff.

      1. I usually predict amendment passage based on the opposite of my vote.

      2. gay gay gay

        1. “Name one of two things that come from Texas”

    2. I started wearing the yellow thing to social events AFTER Lance Armstrong. When people point it out, I say its to keep dope alive.

  2. I see you captured the first post in the alt-text. Not bad, for an intern. You’re definitely better than all the worse ones.

  3. Get a brain, Moran!

    Sorry, couldn’t resist. Nice article.

  4. The abject politicization of science is one of the worst results of the deepening of the retarded partisan TEAM shit. Way to go, TEAM scum. There’s nothing you can’t ruin.

    1. OT: Epi, I tried Brown Sugga after you mentioned it in another thread last week. I’m picking up another case today from BevMO before it goes out of season…

  5. Hmm. I was expecting to see some of the same old names, but it’s new ones! Institutional culture FTW!

    Anything the state of Texas does to dole out money is inevitably corrupted by some tentacle of the good old boy network.

  6. This just in: libertarians opposed to cancer research.

    1. Libertarians opposed to children!

      1. While we are opposed to cancer research, and opposed to children,

        we are not opposed to cancer research on children.

    2. Seriously, if you read the linked page from Apathiest above, one of the endorsements for the amendment actually likened voting against it to voting “for” cancer.’

      If you don’t want the state to fund something, then you are de facto stating that you don’t want that thing to exist.

      1. Insert Bastiat quote here.

        1. For a change of pace from the usual Bastiat quote

          But, by an inference as false as it is unjust, do you know what the economists are now accused of? When we oppose subsidies, we are charged with opposing the very thing that it was proposed to subsidize and of being the enemies of all kinds of activity, because we want these activities to be voluntary and to seek their proper reward in themselves. Thus, if we ask that the state not intervene, by taxation, in religious matters, we are atheists. If we ask that the state not intervene, by taxation, in education, then we hate enlightenment. If we say that the state should not give, by taxation, an artificial value to land or to some branch of industry, then we are the enemies of property and of labor. If we think that the state should not subsidize artists, we are barbarians who judge the arts useless.

  7. There’s no cure for cancer. Only treatment and death. All cancer is genetic, and set off by your environment.

  8. My job requires that i interview researchers in life sciences and they are unanimous in despising the funding process. The committees that review applications are by nature political beasts.

    In my mind, the worst aspect is that researchers tell me they have trouble getting money unless they can assure the committee of an experiment’s outcome. Pure exploration is almost impossible to accomplish under the current funding regime. A sorry state for scientific inquiry.

  9. Sometimes man you jsut gotta roll with it.

  10. Now thats what i am talking about dude.

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