In Jeopardy The Answers Come Before the Questions. Are We in

May 15, 2013

By Leonard Zwelling

On Monday afternoon, May 13, Dr. DePinho sent an email to
the institution commenting on the story in Sunday’s Houston Chronicle.


1.     Dr.
DePinho went “above and beyond” what was required of him as an institutional
leader as he “began resigning board positions”.

2.     He
has divested many of his stocks (unnamed) and plans to establish a blind trust.

3.     He
states that his appearance on CNBC was not supposed to be about Aveo.

4.     He
knew nothing about the results of the trial of the only product of the company
he founded and on whose board he sat, but he did know about the trial’s results
that were to be presented at the ASCO meeting.


are the obvious questions:

1.     How
could he be going above and beyond and yet asking for a waiver of our conflict
of interest policies simultaneously?

2.     Why
has it taken almost 2 years since his naming as president to set up a blind

3.     What
was that CNBC appearance supposed to be about if not about new drug
development? Who requested it? CNBC or MD Anderson? If the former, why? It
seemed Dr. DePinho was to comment on the ASCO meeting, but only in the context
of gaining investment advice for CNBNC viewers. Is this what Texas State
government officials ought to be doing? 
If Anderson requested the spot, who’s idea at MD Anderson was it to
choose a network that is all about investing and highlight the activities of a
new institutional leader with deep ties to industry?

4.     It
belies credibility that the founder of Aveo (Dr. DePInho), two members of its
board married to each other (Drs. DePinho and Chin) and all of their associates
knew nothing about this trial the results of which were putatively available
(according to the Cancer Letter) 6 days before the TV appearance. And, this was
a non-blinded trial. Dr. DePinho said the new drug Aveo developed was effective
against renal cancer. Without the result of this trial, how would he have
known? (here’s the link to the youtube video:

there are many questions raised by the Cancer Letter over the past few weeks
and the Chronicle Sunday. That would have been enough to keep all of us busy
when our friends started to call (my phone began ringing on Sunday morning
asking “what’s going on at MD Anderson?”). This latest DePinho email only
compounds the issues at hand and draws an absolute line in the sand with regard
to what Dr. DePinho knew and when he knew it. 

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *