Texas cancer researchers resign in disgust over cancer profiteering, commercialization
A major rift has formed at the Cancer Prevention & Research Institute of Texas (CPRIT), one of the largest publicly-funded efforts by a state government to promote conventional cancer research and drug development, after 33 scientists, including the group's chief scientific officer, suddenly resigned from their posts. According to the Wall Street Journal (WSJ), the group's research arm has been clashing with its oversight arm over how funds are to be disbursed, with many raising qualms about increasing commercialization and profiteering taking place within the organization.
Hatched in 2007 with the goal of spending $3 billion by 2020 on cancer research and prevention, CPRIT has already doled out hundreds of millions of dollars in recent years, primarily towards peer-reviewed research efforts that the group claims are for "preventing and curing cancer." A much smaller portion of the group's funding has typically been reserved for specific prevention efforts and commercial projects, the latter of which involve the controversial use of taxpayer dollars to fund the private development of new cancer drugs.
But in 2012, the overall amount of CPRIT funding used for such commercial projects increased dramatically, raising concerns among many of the group's foundational members about where the organization is headed in terms of its overall mission. And the CPRIT oversight committee, which is supposed to consult with scientists before making major funding decisions, has increasingly acted arbitrarily in deciding how to disburse funds, with a larger share of these disbursements getting directed towards questionable drug-development efforts rather than actual research and prevention efforts.
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