The oversight committee of the embattled Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas has approved 45 grants — a total of $114 million — for cancer research, prevention, and commercialization, reports Nature's News Blog. The institute became mired in controversy when it approved a $20 million incubator grant for a drug discovery center at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center after the grant application was reviewed by a panel of business experts rather than scientific experts. Further, the agency's board did not fund seven awards approved by peer reviewers, which the institutes' chief scientific officer, Alfred Gilman and the Scientific Review Council suspected was because much of the funds were for UT Southwestern, Gilman's former institution, adds ScienceInsider. Gilman tendered his resignation in May, and, in June, CPRIT said that it would re-review the MD Anderson grant.
The newly approved grants include the seven previously accepted but unfunded grants as well as recruitment awards to bring more cancer researchers to Texas. "It is good that these highly regarded … applications have finally been funded," Gilman tells ScienceInsider. Gilman is to leave his post in October.
In addition, the institute announced that Patricia Vojack, the former senior counsel in the state comptroller’s office, would take on the newly created role of compliance officer at CPRIT to oversee the grant application process, Nature's News Blog adds. There was no discussion, however, of the MD Anderson award.