PAnews.com, Port Arthur, Texas

News

December 5, 2012

Texas cancer agency exec: Mistakes led to grant

AUSTIN — The chief executive of Texas’ embattled $3 billion cancer-fighting agency on Wednesday defended his job while explaining to a state board how a private company improperly received $11 million in the second questionable award to embarrass the agency this year.

Bill Gimson, the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas’ first and only executive director, took blame for Dallas-based Peloton Therapeutics receiving the lucrative taxpayer-funded grant even though the company’s proposal was never scrutinized. He chalked it up as an honest mistake and said there was no evidence that agency staff stood to personally benefit financially from Peloton.

But one member of the agency’s governing board — made up entirely of political appointees of Gov. Rick Perry and others — requested that Gimson face a job review.

CPRIT’s problems began in May when questions arose over a separate $20 million grant that was also insufficiently reviewed, and led to dozens of agency peer reviewers resigning in protest.

Tom Luce, a Dallas attorney appointed to the board this year, said the board had counted on Gilman to make sure rules were followed.

“I’m certain they felt like they were relying on you (to have) sufficient processes in place to assure something like this did not happen,” Luce said.

CPRIT has spent the year mired in criticism and intensifying scrutiny after debuting in 2009 to widespread acclaim. The unprecedented state-run agency is home to the nation’s second largest pot of cancer-research money, behind only the National Institutes of Health, and has awarded nearly $700 million.

An internal audit uncovered the irregularities surrounding Peloton’s award in 2010. The agency says the company was unaware its 27-page proposal was never reviewed, and company executives have declined comment.

All grants must ultimately be approved by the agency’s governing board. Gimson said Peloton’s proposal wound up in front of that panel because Jerry Cobbs, the agency’s former chief commercialization officer, mistakenly thought he was submitting a request to perform “due diligence” on the company. Instead, believing that Cobbs was recommending Peloton for funding, the board voted in 2010 to give Peloton $11 million, according to Gimson.

Gimson did not explain why Cobbs never corrected the board’s action. Cobbs resigned from the agency last month, and attempts to reach him have been unsuccessful.

Gimson told board members Wednesday that the lapse in checks and balances occurred during the agency’s infancy, when rules were still being put in place.

“It was a procedural nightmare,” Gimson said.

According to the agency’s internal audit, emails between Cobbs and former chief science officer Dr. Alfred Gilman about Peloton are no longer available. Neither a report from the agency’s compliance officer nor a letter Gimson wrote to lawmakers this week explains why.

Peloton has so far received $3.2 million from the state. The rest of the funding had been frozen pending a review of the company’s application.

James Mansour, a major political donor to Perry whom the governor appointed as chairman of the oversight board, said the Peloton discovery has been “embarrassing.” He said he would have difficulty approving the company for funding without more assurance that Peloton does not have ties to agency officials.

1
Text Only
News
  • treadmill-very-fast.jpg Tax deduction for a gym membership?

    April marks another tax season when millions of Americans will deduct expenses related to home ownership, children and education from their annual tax bill. These deductions exist because of their perceived value to society; they encourage behaviors that keep the wheels of the economy turning. So why shouldn't the tax code be revised to reward preventive health?

    April 16, 2014 1 Photo

  • Jamaal Charles' Football Camp

    April 15, 2014

  • Search teams will send unmanned sub to look for missing Malaysian airliner

    Teams searching for a missing Malaysian airliner are planning for the first time to send an unmanned submarine into the depths of the Indian Ocean to look for wreckage, an Australian official leading the multi-nation search said Monday.

    April 15, 2014

  • Teens trading naked selfies for mugshots

    Will teenagers ever learn? You think yours will. Maybe so. But it's likely that was also the hope of the parents of children who were so shamed by nude photos of themselves that went south - how else can they go - that they killed themselves.

    April 11, 2014

  • Boston doctors can now prescribe you a bike

    The City of Boston this week is rolling out a new program that's whimsically known as "Prescribe-a-Bike." Part medicine, part welfare, the initiative allows doctors at Boston Medical Center to write "prescriptions" for low-income patients to get yearlong memberships to Hubway, the city's bike-share system, for only $5.

    April 11, 2014

  • Screen Shot 2014-04-08 at 2.16.35 PM.png Are Americans smart to stop drinking diet sodas?

    Recent data from Beverage Digest suggest many are cutting back on diet sodas. Consumption of diet sodas fell more than that of sugary sodas in 2013. This raises two questions: Why is total consumption declining, and is drinking diet soda harmful to health?

    April 9, 2014 1 Photo

  • Screen Shot 2014-04-08 at 10.43.57 AM.png VIDEO: Amazing dance moves at NCAA title game

    Eye-catching action wasn't confined to the court at AT&T Stadium Monday night during the NCAA Championship game between UConn and Kentucky. This pair -- apparently a father and son -- delighted the crowd during a timeout with some synchronized dance moves.

    April 9, 2014 1 Photo

  • VIDEO: White House may ban selfies

    The White House wasn't too pleased after Red Sox player David Ortiz snapped a selfie with President Obama that was later used promotionally by Samsung.

    April 9, 2014

  • Investing more money in tornado research would be a disaster

    This week, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill that would require National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration funding to focus on improving forecasts of "high impact weather events" like tornadoes and hurricanes "for the protection of life and property and the enhancement of the national economy."

    April 7, 2014

  • firefighters.jpg VIDEO: Firefighters sing song from 'Frozen' to calm girl stuck in elevator

    Firefighters in Reading, Mass., sing the Disney power ballad known by children everywhere -- "Let It Go" -- to calm a 4-year-old stuck in an elevator.

    April 7, 2014 1 Photo

Video
Disbanding Muslim Surveillance Draws Praise Hundreds Missing After South Korean Ferry Sinks Passengers Abuzz After Plane Hits Swarm of Bees Boston Bomb Scare Defendant Appears in Court Pistorius Trial: Adjourned Until May 5 Diaz Gets Physical for New Comedy Raw: Ferry Sinks Off South Korean Coast Town, Victims Remember Texas Blast Freeze Leaves Florida Panhandle With Dead Trees At Boston Marathon, a Chance to Finally Finish Are School Dress Codes Too Strict? Raw: Fatal Ferry Boat Accident Suspicious Bags Found Near Marathon Finish Line Boston Marks the 1st Anniversary of Bombing NYPD Ends Muslim Surveillance Program 8-year-old Boy Gets His Wish: Fly Like Iron Man Sex Offenders Arrested in Slayings of CA Women India's Transgenders Celebrate Historic Ruling Tributes Mark Boston Bombing Anniversary Raw: Kan. Shooting Suspect Faces Judge
Facebook
Sports Tweets
Photos