Chancellor Francisco G. Cigarroa, M.D., regarding the UT System’s compliance review of MD Anderson’s grant proposal submission to CPRIT
AUSTIN – The University of Texas System has concluded its compliance review of the procedures by which UT MD Anderson submitted a proposal to the Cancer Prevention Research Institute of Texas (CPRIT) in collaboration with Rice University for funding of an incubator project involving MD Anderson’s Institute for Applied Cancer Science (IACS). At the request of CPRIT, the leaders of IACS, including Drs. Guilio Draetta and Lynda Chin, were asked to provide a business plan for an incubator which did not require any scientific justification—only a business plan. The business officer at IACS provided this business plan by email to the commercialization office at CPRIT as specifically requested by the CPRIT commercialization office. The UT System review concluded that there had been no deliberate attempt by anyone to circumvent MD Anderson’s procedures. Furthermore, no conflicts of interest whatsoever were identified in the review, and absolutely no acts of nepotism occurred between Dr. Chin and her husband, MD Anderson President Ron DePinho.
In the UT System’s quest for continual improvement, its principal recommendations included the need for enhanced education of all faculty and staff, especially new employees, in these procedures. It also concluded that MD Anderson should work with CPRIT to assure all grant proposals are transmitted through an approved portal, since this process was identified as a weakness during the compliance review. Finally, despite the fact that no conflicts of interest were found, it is always advisable to review all institutional policies to ensure that no outside influences may impact internal processes.
In light of the controversy associated with this project and because of its critical importance to cancer care, research and prevention, MD Anderson has indicated that it will resubmit the proposal to CPRIT for further consideration. To date, MD Anderson has not spent any of the funds awarded by the grant. I have full confidence in MD Anderson's leadership team to manage these complex projects and to compete effectively for CPRIT support or any other externally peer-reviewed grants. UT MD Anderson is our nation’s top ranked cancer center. Its extraordinary faculty, physicians and researchers remain focused on patient care and seeking new cancer therapies and cures. The University of Texas System stands firmly behind President DePinho and the MD Anderson community, and we applaud the institution’s mission and its dedicated workforce. We also support the important work of CPRIT in providing critical research and commercialization funds focused on preventing and developing innovative therapeutics to help eradicate cancer.