BioNews Texas has been engaged in conversation with a CPRIT spokesperson regarding our news article on the proposed changes to CPRIT suggested by the organization’s advisory committee, seeking to clarify our initial interpretation that the commercialization arm of CPRIT could be phased out and replaced with a “product development officer” and committee, which would appear to have more limited abilities in the grant process. The spokesperson, speaking on behalf of CPRIT, reminded us that, “CPRIT is seeking public comment concerning proposed administrative rules changes,” and presented the proposed changes to the commercialization officer role thusly:
One proposal under consideration is a change of terminology used to describe projects aimed at translating promising research into patient care and treatment . . . Using the term “product development” rather than “commercialization” more accurately describes these efforts. This terminology also conforms to language included in the CPRIT bills (SB 149 and HB 951) currently being considered by the Texas Legislature.
In an effort to corroborate this claim, BioNews Texas consulted the current texts of SB 149 and HB 951 as presented online in their current form. We were unable to find any mention of the term “product development” or “product development officer” in the current legislative drafts, unlike the CPRIT oversight committee’s proposed changes, which mentions these terms explicitly. However, there are three instances of the term “development officer” used in both bills, once in a list in Section 102.264 of officers that will form a new “Program Integration Committee,” and once in the House bill, which describes the role as one, “who reports directly to the chief executive officer and assists in attracting public-private partnerships to further cancer research.”
The role of the “development officer” in the legislative bills is also involved in oversight as well:
” . . .the institute’s chief scientific officer and development officer shall compare the list of grant applicants submitted to the oversight committee under Subdivision (2) to a list of donors from any nonprofit organization established to provide support to the institute compiled from information made available under Section 102.262(c).”
There is no use of the term “commercialization officer” in either of the two legislative bills, however, “commercialization review council” is cited twice:
“(e) An employee of a nonprofit organization established with a grant from the institute may not serve on the commercialization review council . . . Sec. 102.063. ADDITIONAL DUTIES OF COMPLIANCE OFFICER. (a) The compliance officer shall adopt and implement a policy on in-state or out-of-state residency requirements for members of the commercialization review council.”
You’ll recall that in the proposed changes, there is an explicit call for the deletion of the “commercialization review council:”
Section 703.2 adds the definitions for “chief product development officer”, “compliance officer”, “product development review council”, and “product development prospects.” The section proposes to delete references to the “chief commercialization officer”, the “commercialization review council”, and “commercial prospects”. The section also clarifies the definition of “cancer research” to include research into the prevention of cancer.
Moreover, it is worth noting that in both the legislative bills as well as the CPRIT oversight committee’s proposed changes document, the commercialization arm of CPRIT is almost exclusively associated with the new compliance officer and new compliance-oriented reforms.
BioNews Texas is awaiting a further response and clarification from CPRIT concerning the commercialization arm, namely, if the semantic change from “commercialization” to” product development” will substantially change the organization’s ability to attract biotech companies from out-of-state and fund in-state biotech startups. As the dialogue between our publication and CPRIT continues, we will continue to update the CPRIT story accordingly.