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Director Out at Huntsman

The Huntsman Cancer Institute is roiling after Mary Beckerle has been forced out as director, ScienceInsider reports. It adds that 2,000 researchers have signed a petition calling for her to be reinstated.

According to ScienceInsider, University of Utah President David Pershing and Vivian Lee, the senior vice president for health sciences there, announced Monday that Beckerle was no longer in charge of the center. The Huntsman Cancer Institute is based at the university, though has some autonomy.

This, ScienceInsider adds, has been seen as a power grab by many to roll the cancer center in with the university's medical school. A Utah press release says this will bring "closer collaboration between HCI and the rest of the University" to facilitate "our mission of finding improved treatments and ultimately a cure for cancer."

Philanthropist Jon Huntsman was also "blindsided" by this move, ScienceInsider says, as he was in the midst of negotiating a new donation.

"If [Jon Huntsman is] not part of it, if Mary's not the head of it, if we just have this coup and somebody takes over, people like me and lots of others of my colleagues that are constantly getting offers to take jobs in other places, we're going to go," Jody Rosenblatt, a cancer cell biologist at the center, tells ScienceInsider. "It's going to be the end of the Huntsman Cancer Institute."