State Cancer Agency Defends $20M Grant, Skips Science Review

Funds given to Rice University and M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston

By Danny Robbins
|  Thursday, May 17, 2012  |  Updated 7:15 AM CDT
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Cancer Agency Defends $20M Grant, Skips Science Review

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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.

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