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Q&A: MD Anderson Provost Had No Say
A controversial $20 million project that lists the wife of MD Anderson
Cancer Center as the leading investigator didn’t go through review by that
institution’s provost, The Cancer Letter has learned.
In an interview arranged by his institution’s press relations staff,
Raymond DuBois, MD Anderson provost and executive vice president, revealed
that his office wasn’t asked to review the proposal.
The proposal may have been reviewed by the provost at Rice University,
which is slated to receive $2 million—only 10 percent—of the commercialization
grant from the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas, DuBois said.
However, officials at Rice said that institution’s provost didn’t review the MD
Anderson portion of the proposal, which means that it wasn’t reviewed by any provost.
Bypassing review by a provost that employs the researcher seeking funds is
highly unusual and problematic—especially when medical research is involved, and
more so in situations where there is a potential for conflicts stemming from nepotism,
experts in ethics and grant review say.
The MD Anderson proposal mentions phase I trials.
State officials confirmed to The Cancer Letter that they received the MD Anderson
portion of the application from Eric Devroe, executive director of strategic alliances at the
MD Anderson Institute for Applied Cancer Science. IACS, the unit that received the $18
million in state funds, is co-directed by Lynda Chin, who is married to MD Anderson President
The Q&A with DuBois was conducted by Paul Goldberg, editor of The Cancer Letter.
PG: I guess we should first establish whether the incubator proposal went through your office.
RD: The incubator proposal was a joint effort with Rice [University], and my understanding
s that it went through the Rice [provost’s] office in terms of being submitted, along with
the Rice proposal.
PG: So it didn’t go through your office?
RD: We have an office of grant administration and an office of grants and management,
and since this was a joint effort with Rice, the institute team worked directly with the
provost at Rice. I assumed that it was routed through the grants office at Rice since it
was a collaborative effort with them. However, I have not checked directly with Rice on
PG: It did not go through the MD Anderson provost? That’s unusual; isn’t it?
RD: We do process a lot of CPRIT grants that go to the scientific review panel. This is a
new mechanism—the RFA just came out several months ago—and that was apparently the
preferred mechanism. I believe the institute team had worked closely with CPRIT in
formulating their application, and I think this was the preferred route.