While CPRIT remains in limbo pending statewide investigations and pending reform legislation, the interim CPRIT chief is calling for a review of the current funding moratorium.
Ever since the onset of the CPRIT scandal in late 2012 and the ensuing funding freeze that has persisted in the wake of criminal and civil investigations, the call for an end to the funding moratorium has steadily increased in the Texas media, government, and biotech sector. Today, interim CPRIT Director Wayne Roberts joined the list of voices in Texas calling for an expedited end to the moratorium, citing the potential long-term damage the funding freeze is doing to the Texas biotech industry.
According to the Statesman,
The interim executive director of Texas’ beleaguered cancer research institute Monday recommended that lawmakers reconsider a moratorium on grants from the agency.
In his letter to Gov. Rick Perry, Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst and Speaker Joe Straus, who ordered the moratorium, agency Director Wayne Roberts also recommended fast-tracking 25 grants intended to lure first-class researchers.
Roberts has staked his position or arguing that these 25 grants in particular are key to continuing to grow cancer research in Texas, and is looking to gain approval from Governor Rick Perry’s office to offer some grant money, even as the Texas legislature begins to fast-track reform laws for CPRIT.
In the meantime, however, a large swath of the Texas cancer research community waits in limbo for CPRIT to return to full function and issue grants. Currently, there are about $183 million in cancer grants are on hold in Texas, which is affecting 160 cancer research projects statewide — 63 of which belong to the University of Texas System. “UT System researchers in Austin, Houston and Dallas have been awarded the lion’s share of funds — $108 million.”
However, considering that there is no viable timeline for the return of CPRIT cancer research funding, researchers have been left to do what they can from a funding and budgetary standpoint to preserve and continue their work without the aid of Texas research grants. To date, several researchers and organizations have had to cease research and close their doors in the wake of the funding freeze.
Texas governmental leaders will meet later this week to discuss Roberts’ proposal.