Cancer researcher sues university

Chemist says Arizona State officials retaliated after he reported university wrongdoings

Melissa Lee Phillips(mlp@nasw.org)
Sep 28, 2005

The director of the Cancer Research Institute at Arizona State University (ASU) in Tempe is suing the school and some of its senior administrators, claiming he was removed as director in retaliation for blowing the whistle on university officials for mishandling licensing contracts and patent applications for anti-cancer drugs.

George Robert "Bob" Pettit, an organic chemist known for his development of anti-cancer compounds isolated from natural sources like plants and marine animals, was director of the Cancer Research Institute (CRI) since 1975 and held the Dalton Chair of Cancer Research and Medicinal Chemistry since 1986. His lawsuit states that he has been removed from both posts. According to ASU spokesperson Kimberly Ovitt, Pettit is still employed as a professor at ASU, and ASU administrators will not comment on the case while it is pending.

"He's one of the three or four people of his generation in marine natural products...

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