More scientists are resigning from the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas' scientific review panel citing integrity issues, reports the Associated Press. Among those who have resigned is the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Philip Sharp. "Clearly there has been pressure at the board level to do things differently" and not just rely on peer review to fund projects, Sharp tells ScienceInsider.
Problems at CPRIT came to light earlier this year when Alfred Gilman, its chief scientific officer, said he was going to resign due to problems he saw in the institute's peer-review system. CPIRT awarded an $18 million incubator grant to the Institute for Applied Cancer Sciences at the MD Anderson Cancer Center without scientific peer review. In response, CPRIT announced it was re-reviewing the MD Anderson grant. Further, CPRIT did not fund some awards that had been approved through the scientific peer-review process, saying that there were issues with favoritism in the peer-review system. Those awards were later funded. Additionally, CPRIT hired a compliance officer.
This latest round of resignations comes as "nothing has changed since last spring," Sharp tells ScienceInsider. Also among those who have tendered their resignations are Dana-Farber Cancer Institute's William Kaelin, MIT's Tyler Jacks, and Charles Sherr at St. Jude's.
"These accusations [of favoritism], as well as the failure to mandate scientific review of so-called incubator grants during this period, served to undermine the careful work of my committee and the sanctity of the larger CPRIT scientific review process," Jacks writes in his resignation letter, which ScienceInsider has posted.
Sharp tells the Nature News blog that "I hope they take the message that there are a lot of people who believe peer review is a very important aspect of funding the best science and getting the best science done. They should respect the process they put in place."