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Fri Oct 12, 2012, 09:24 PM

7 advisers resign at embattled Texas cancer agency

Source: Associated Press

Oct 12, 9:19 PM EDT
7 advisers resign at embattled Texas cancer agency
Associated Press

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) -- At least seven scientists resigned in protest this week from Texas' embattled $3 billion cancer-fighting program, claiming the agency created with the backing of the governor and cancer survivor Lance Armstrong is charting a new "politically-driven" path that puts commercial interests before science.

The Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas has awarded nearly $700 million in grants since 2009, making Texas home to the nation's biggest pot of cancer-research dollars behind only the federal National Institutes of Health. But how the state agency picks projects has fallen under intensifying scrutiny, beginning in May when its chief scientific officer resigned in protest after it approved - without scientific review - a $20 million commercialization project.

Nobel laureate Dr. Phillip Sharp was among those stepping down this week, writing in his resignation letter that the CPRI is making funding decisions that carry a "suspicion of favoritism" in how the state is handing out taxpayer dollars. Dr. Bryan Dynlacht, another reviewer who's leaving, warned that the agency was headed down a path of systematic abuses.

"You may find that it was not worth subverting the entire scientific enterprise - and my understanding was that the intended goal of CPRIT was to fund the best cancer research in Texas - on account of this ostensibly new, politically driven, commercialization-based mission," Dynlacht wrote in his letter.

Read more: http://hosted.ap.org/dynamic/stories/U/US_CANCER_FUNDING_TEXAS?SECTION=HOME&SITE=AP&TEMPLATE=DEFAULT

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Reply 7 advisers resign at embattled Texas cancer agency (Original post)
Judi Lynn Oct 2012 OP
dixiegrrrrl Oct 2012 #1
proverbialwisdom Oct 2012 #2
Honeycombe8 Oct 2012 #3
proverbialwisdom Oct 2012 #4
proverbialwisdom Oct 2012 #5

Response to Judi Lynn (Original post)

Fri Oct 12, 2012, 09:35 PM

1. There have been other news articles of universities doing the same.

Using tax dollars to pay for research which is then sold to commericial enterprises.

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Response to Judi Lynn (Original post)

Sat Oct 13, 2012, 10:37 AM

2. I'm always cautious about snap judgements based on incomplete information.

Nobel laureate Dr. Phillip Sharp... is 'professor at the Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology...'


Mass resignations at embattled state cancer agency

Oct 12, 2012 2:01pm

...The letters were obtained by The Associated Press through an open records request. Sharp is professor at the Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, while Dynlacht is at the New York University School of Medicine, wrote in his resignation letter.

In a statement, CPRIT executive director Bill Gimson called the accusations false and misinformed.

CPRIT was created though an ambitious bond measure approved by Texas voters in 2007. The agency has scientists across the country who help review proposals and choose projects to fund.

But in May, chief scientific officer Dr. Alfred Gilman resigned in protest after the CPRIT approved a $20 million grant for a so-called incubator project at M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston. He told colleagues in heated emails that he was trying to prevent misuse of taxpayer dollars and funding decisions based on political considerations.

It was the largest amount of money the agency ever awarded for a single project. But since it was a commercialization project, it didn't undergo scientific review. The agency has since said the project would undergo such a review.

The latest resignations come on the eve of potentially significant changes in how the agency allocates funding. CPRIT has been steering 75 percent of all funding toward research, 15 percent toward commercialization, and 10 percent toward prevention efforts such as breast cancer screenings.

But those funding formulas could change at the agency's annual conference this month. Gimson has signaled that the time has come to put more money into private commercialization projects, saying that would get new drugs into the hands of patients quicker.


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Response to Judi Lynn (Original post)

Sat Oct 13, 2012, 08:08 PM

3. That sucks. They've lost some key people because of politicization. It sounds like something

that may be true, since I live here in TX. To award a project bid w/o scientific review says it all.

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Response to Judi Lynn (Original post)

Sun Oct 14, 2012, 10:24 AM

4. CPRIT Innovations in Cancer Prevention and Research Conference, Oct 24-26, 2012, Austin TX.





Spread the Word

Please help us spread the word by sharing information about the 2012 conference with your social networks. We want as many people as possible to attend this unique event that further establishes Texas as a leader in the fight against cancer!

It's been almost three years since Texas' premier cancer fighting agency started its war on cancer. Since the time Texas voters passed a constitutional amendment creating the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas (CPRIT), the Institute has awarded over $650 million in grants for cancer prevention, research, and commercialization to institutions, companies, and community organizations across the State. CPRIT will showcase many of its achievements as well as provide insights into the latest initiatives and interventions in the fight against cancer at its Innovations in Cancer Prevention and Research Conference to be held in Austin, TX, October 24-26, 2012.

For more information about the Innovations Conference and to register, please visit www.cprit2012.org. Reserve your spot today!


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Response to proverbialwisdom (Reply #4)

Sun Oct 14, 2012, 10:31 AM

5. Trust the media to fairly parse these conflicting accounts?


Cancer-curing startups could be beneficiaries

Premium content from Austin Business Journal by Sandra Zaragoza, Staff Writer
Date: Friday, July 20, 2012, 5:00am CDT


Tightening the review process

These Future Direction efforts may be, in part, a response to the criticism that CPRIT received in May for the process by which a $20 million grant was issued for an incubator by Rice University and M.D. Anderson in Houston. A panel of eminent scientists took issue with the fact that the grant was not subject to the scientific peer review process by which research grants are made.

As a result, Gimson said CPRIT now requires commercialization grants to go through a scientific peer review and a commercialization review.
“We are an organization that listens,” Gimson said. “We are hiring a compliance officer that will make sure that in every grant case all of the i’s are dotted and the t’s are crossed.”


James Gray, government relations director of the state chapter of the American Cancer Society, said the Future Directions initiative comes at a good time.
“CPRIT is starting to get a picture of what exists currently and what they can do to continue to build the infrastructure around cancer research and prevention,” Gray said. “One of the things that impressed us about CPRIT,” he added, “is the thoughtfulness overall of their peer review process. If you think about the time they’ve had, their staff, and the amount of time they’ve had to ramp up, [the accomplishment] is pretty significant.”

Deciding what goes where

One key recommendation to come out of the first Future Directions workgroup was that more should be invested in commercialization, prevention and prevention research, according to CPRIT.



Dozens of emails focus on Gilman’s stance that CPRIT’s “peer review” system, in which out-of-state scientists review applications to avoid possible conflicts of interest, is under attack from foes, including some members of the agency’s Oversight Committee that Gilman referred to as “really evil people.”

Full article: http://watchdogblog.dallasnews.com/2012/05/e-mails-show-gilmans-concerns-that-politics-may-trump-science-at-cprit.html/

"'Prevention and prevention research?" Isn't that a third rail topic?


Newsroom: Press Releases

Lautenberg's Safe Chemicals Act Approved by Committee
Milestone Marks Major Victory Over Special Interests and Progress in Mission to Protect Americans from Toxic Chemicals in Consumer Products

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

WASHINGTON—U.S. Senator Frank R. Lautenberg (D-NJ) today announced that his “Safe Chemicals Act” has been approved by the Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee. The legislation is designed to protect Americans from dangerous toxic chemicals that are found in everyday consumer products.

“This vote is a major milestone in our effort to fix America’s broken system for regulating toxic chemicals,” said Senator Lautenberg. “Children and families could be in danger from everyday consumer products, and the U.S. Government is virtually powerless to do anything to make sure that the chemicals used in products are safe. For too long, the chemical industry has deceived the public and the government about the safety of their products. They have ripped a page out of the tobacco industry’s playbook. Today we are saying ‘game over’ – it’s time to protect the public health.”

Lautenberg, who chairs the Senate Subcommittee on Superfund, Toxics andEnvironmental Health, introduced the “Safe Chemicals Act of 2011” to modernize the “Toxic Substances Control Act of 1976” (TSCA). The bill gives the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) the tools it needs to require health and safety testing of toxic chemicals and places the burden on industry to prove that chemicals are safe. Under current law, the EPA can call for safety testing only after evidence surfaces demonstrating a chemical is dangerous. As a result, EPA has been able to require testing for just 200 of the more than 80,000 chemicals currently registered in the United States, and has been able to ban only five dangerous substances. Lautenberg has been working to reform TSCA since 2005.

Scientists and environmental groups have expressed concern about chemicals that are used in the production of a wide-range of consumer products including:

· Rug cleaners and stain-resistant carpet
· Non-stick cookware
· Vinyl products
· Dishwashing liquids
· Fabric softeners
· Upholstery
· Insulation, and
· Hair dyes

The Safe Chemicals Act would:

•Require manufacturers to develop and submit safety data for each chemical they produce, while avoiding duplicative or unnecessary testing.
•Prioritize chemicals based on risk, so that EPA can focus resources on evaluating those most likely to cause harm while working through the backlog of untested existing chemicals.
•Place the burden of proof on chemical manufacturers to demonstrate the safety of their chemicals.
•Restrict uses of chemicals that cannot be proven safe.
•Establish a public database to catalog the information submitted by chemical manufacturers and the EPA’s safety determinations.
•Promote innovation and development of safe chemical alternatives, and bring some new chemicals onto the market using an expedited review process.

A recent nationwide poll by Public Opinion Strategies released on July 19th found strong support for bolstering protections against toxic chemicals:

• Description of a proposal that would require the chemical industry to prove that its products are safe and give EPA greater authority to restrict some or all uses of chemicals that may harm health or the environment garnered support from 77 percent of respondents.
•Nearly 74 percent of those polled think the threat posed to people’s health by the exposure to toxic chemicals is serious, with 34 percent saying they think the threat is “very serious.”
•68 percent of respondents support stricter regulation of chemicals used and produced in the United States, with support across all demographic sub-groups, including those typically opposed to government regulation, such as self-described conservatives (54 percent) and tea partysupporters (51 percent).

Senator Lautenberg’s legislation is co-sponsored by EPW Chairman Barbara Boxer (D-CA), as well as Senators Mark Begich (D-AK), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Maria Cantwell (D-WA), Ben Cardin (D-MD), Richard Durbin (D-IL), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Al Franken (D-MN), Kirsten Gillibrand(D-NY), Tom Harkin (D-IA), John Kerry (D-MA), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Robert Menendez (D-NJ), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Patty Murray (D-WA), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Jon Tester (D-MT), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), and Ron Wyden (D-OR).


Op-Ed Columnist

The Cancer Lobby

Published: October 6, 2012

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