WIKIMEDIA, KUEBIAt the written request of Texas governor Rick Perry (R), the state’s embattled $3 billion dollar cancer research funding agency this week announced a moratorium on new grants, reported ScienceInsider. The agency will award no more grants until it properly addresses continued concerns about the legitimacy of its review procedures.
The Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas (CPRIT) has been in trouble since May 2012, when its chief scientific officer, the Nobel Prize-winning biochemist Alfred Gilman, announced he would quit over grave concerns about the integrity of the agency’s peer-review procedure. Gilman stepped down in October, and was quickly followed by the chair of the review council and scores of peer reviewers.
Two more top officials, including the agency’s executive director, Bill Gimson, have resigned in the past few weeks amid allegations about possible criminal activity involving a round of grants awarded to companies owned by Dallas businessman David Shanahan, a major campaign contributor to Texas Governor Perry and Lieutenant Governor David Dewhurst.
Following the commencement of a civil investigation, CPRIT this week received a letter from Governor Perry demanding that it “fully address the concerns that have been raised about its processes and operations prior to future grants being awarded.” CPRIT agreed, and released a short statement that said the “issues need to be resolved to restore public confidence.” Ongoing grants will not be affected, the agency said.
The moratorium comes in the same week that the Texas state legislature is scheduled to hear testimony about whether the agency should be funded in 2014 to 2015, according to The Texas Tribune.