Leaders of a $3 billion cancer research initiative in Texas are downplaying criticism over not ordering a scientific review before awarding the largest commercial grant in the agency's history.
The Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas on Wednesday defended the state's decision to approve a $20 million grant without requiring the usual scientific vetting. The funds were given to Rice University and M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston for a so-called incubator project.
Robert Ulrich, who heads the agency's commercialization review council, told reporters during a conference call that a science review was unnecessary because the project is largely a commercial venture.
The agency came under fire last week when its chief scientific officer, Dr. Alfred Gilman, criticized the funding process in a letter of resignation.