Translational tidbits

The Cancer Prevention & Research Institute of Texas is back in the grant-making business after a legislated time-out to rebuild its executive leadership and sort out perceived transparency problems.

Last week, Texas Gov. Rick Perry lifted an 11-month moratorium on the distribution of grants previously approved by the agency.

The Cancer Prevention & Research Institute of Texas (CPRIT), which distributes taxpayer money to Texas-based academic and industry cancer researchers, ran into problems last year when CSO Alfred Gilman accused the institute's executive leadership of tampering with the scientific peer review of grant proposals.1

Gilman, an emeritus professor of pharmacology at The University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, resigned in October 2012. His departure led to mass resignations of CPRIT's scientific staff and a political brouhaha that ultimately cost CPRIT executive director William Gimson his job.

Last December, Perry and state legislators froze CPRIT's grant-giving authority until the agency created a new plan for vetting grant proposals. In June, the Texas legislature passed Senate Bill 149 (SB149), which dictates tighter terms for the composition of CPRIT's politically appointed oversight committee, and ordered the institute to tighten up its conflict-of-interest procedures.

Since then, CPRIT has appointed a new oversight committee, strengthened the role of scientifically qualified grant reviewers and clarified how it will report conflicts of interest. CPRIT also re-reviewed 118 grants awarded in FY12 and FY13 that had been frozen under the moratorium to make sure they conformed

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