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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

Cancer Survival Linked to Mutational Burden in Pan-Cancer Analysis

A pan-cancer paper appearing in JCO Precision Oncology suggests tumor mutation patterns provide clues for predicting cancer survival that are independent of other prognostic factors.

Australian Survey Points to Public Support for Genetic Risk Disclosure in Relatives of At-Risk Individuals

A survey in the European Journal of Human Genetics suggests most adult Australians are in favor of finding out if a relative tests positive for a medically actionable genetic variant.

Study Links Evolution of Stony Coral Skeleton to Bicarbonate Transporter Gene

A PNAS paper focuses on a skeleton-related bicarbonate transporter gene introduced to stony coral ancestors by tandem duplication.

Hormone-Based Gene Therapy to Sterilize Domestic Cat

A new paper in Nature Communication suggests that gene therapy could be a safer alternative to spaying domestic cats.