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Survey Morale

A survey of MD Anderson Cancer Center faculty shows dissatisfaction with its leadership, the Nature News blog reports. Nearly 74 percent of the respondents to the survey, obtained by The Cancer Letter, say that faculty morale is worse than when a previous faculty survey was conducted in 2010. Among the reasons given by respondents as to why morale has declined include a lack of transparency and conflict of interest concerns regarding the institute's president, Ronald DePinho.

DePinho and his wife Lynda Chin, who is a researcher at MD Anderson, have been embroiled in controversy regarding an incubator grant awarded to Chin by the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas without undergoing scientific review. (CPRIT said in May that it would be giving the grant another look.) Additionally, the Nature News blog says DePinho had to apologize in June for promoting the stock of a company that he co-founded on TV without disclosure of that relationship.

The Cancer Letter notes that only about a third of MD Anderson faculty members responded to the survey, and that those who were angrier might have been more likely to respond than people who were happy.

"Some of the feedback was humbling and constructive, and I've taken to heart the survey's results, as well as what faculty have told me directly about what we can do to move the institution forward," DePinho tells The Cancer Letter.

The Scan

US Supports Patent Waivers

NPR reports that the Biden Administration has announced its support for waiving intellectual property protections for SARS-CoV-2 vaccines.

Vaccines Versus Variants

Two studies find the Pfizer-BioNTech SARS-CoV-2 vaccine to be effective against viral variants, and Moderna reports on booster shots to combat variants.

CRISPR for What Ails You

The Wall Street Journal writes that CRISPR-based therapies could someday be used to treat common conditions like heart attacks.

Nature Papers Review Integration of Single-Cell Assay Data, Present Approach to Detect Rare Variants

In Nature this week: review of ways to integrate data from single-cell assays, and more.