Health & Science

Research Money Will Flow Again From State Fund To MD Anderson

The state agency that funds cancer research is back in business, after a wave of scandals and investigations. It now has the power to once again award taxpayer-funded grants. Scientists at MD Anderson Cancer Center are thrilled.


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The Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas, or CPRIT, is a $3 billion pot of money funded by the Texas taxpayer.

Voters approved the idea in 2007, but the agency ran into trouble last year.

At least two grants were awarded improperly, and scientific advisors resigned in protest.

Since last December, the money has been frozen. That included money for 19 grants for MD Anderson totaling almost $19 million.

Dr. Ethan Dmitrovsky is provost for MD Anderson.

“Most of the work was really delayed, so this was a situation where vital scholarship was put on hold.”

Now the moratorium on funding has been lifted, so money for those 19 grant winners should start flowing to MD Anderson soon.

Dmitrovsky says the CPRIT money is critical because grants from the National Institutes of Health have been affected by budget fights in Washington and the federal sequester.

“Federal funding is flat, has been flat for a number of years. And the net result is because of inflationary increases in salary and for equipment that the purchasing power of each grant has been going down each year.”

MD Anderson became involved in the CPRIT scandals after a research team there applied for a $20 million grant to commercialize scientific discoveries. 

The team included Dr. Guilio Draetta and Dr. Lynda Chin, the wife of MD Anderson president Dr. Ron DePinho.

CPRIT initially approved the grant, but later rescinded it after questions surfaced about the handling of the grant, such as whether the application was solicited correctly and whether CPRIT should have subjected it to a scientific review.

Some of the problems at CPRIT are still under a criminal investigation in Travis County. 

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