Texas officials will allow the state's troubled $3 billion cancer research agency to make 25 recruitment awards that had been on hold since December.
The decision is the first good news in a while for the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas (CPRIT). The agency became embroiled in controversy last May when chief scientific officer and Nobel Prize winner Alfred Gilman quit in protest over CPRIT's scientific review processes. Two more top officials left last fall amid civil and criminal investigations into several commercialization awards. In December, CPRIT agreed to a request from Texas Governor Rick Perry and two other state leaders to impose a moratorium on new grants. A month later, the Texas Senate introduced a budget bill that would have slashed the agency's $300-million-a-year in funding.
Texas research institutions, in the meantime, have worried that the delay in awarding $71.8 million in grants approved last year to draw 25 researchers from outside the state would derail the recruitments. Today, CPRIT interim Executive Director Wayne Roberts announced that the awards have been "certified" as properly reviewed and that state leaders will allow CPRIT to move ahead. "We have worked hard to regain trust," and "[w]e take this action as evidence that some progress has been made," Roberts said.