s-CAR-go-T or Send in the Boys
to Do a Man’s Work When a Woman Is Involved: One Hundred Million Reasons For The
Head of the Division of Pediatrics To Resign
Obviously, this one is hard to write, but not really.
First, nothing about this surprised me, especially the
particularly sudden and unskillful manner in which it was done. There was no
warning and no discussion with the Pediatrics Division Head prior to her
“resignation.” This has not been in the works for months at least from her
Second, that someone who has made major contributions to MD
Anderson and its faculty should be made to feel “less than” has become pretty
common. There are others who, for one reason or another, felt less than
welcomed any longer. Many have left and it is MD Anderson’s loss that they have.
administration that would take $150M from well-known anti-Semites
just to construct another
laboratory building and name it after a despot from the Middle East, then place
it on the campus of a state university in the United States, is likely to do
There is also a sense at the top of MD Anderson that somehow
the poor results of the recurrent morale surveys have their origins at the
Divisional level when the problem is a tad higher up the food chain. This is
simply another occupied chair thrown overboard from the decks of the Titanic steaming
toward an iceberg.
But I think the straw that broke the camel’s back precluding
any more camel rides for the kids under Coach K, as she is known in her house, was
the $100M CAR T cell stock deal that involves Laurence Cooper, a professor in
Pediatrics recruited by Dr. Kleinerman. Dr. Cooper has done everything in his
power to undermine Dr. K’s authority both actively by going around her back to
institutional leadership for a retention package, and passively by not showing
up for most pediatric meetings and getting virtually nothing done in the
clinical areas over which he has jurisdiction. If you want to see whether or
not CAR T cells GO or are likely to contribute to the treatment of human
malignancy, head to Penn, not Houston.
My prediction is that Dr. DePinho’s fair-haired well-financed
boy with the stock certificates fluttering from his white coat pockets will benefit
from this latest purge.
Dr. DePinho has finally figured out that Pediatrics can
generate tremendous amounts of donor money (the recent Stripes campaign brought
in $1.4 million in small donations that was matched by a large donor for a
total of $2.8 million). DePinho and his Boy Thursday, Cooper, want it all for
their latest plan to commercialize the good name of MD Anderson research while
enriching themselves in the process, undoubtedly doing the CAR T cell clinical
trials at MD Anderson. Move over Aveo. I can’t wait to see how the Conflict of
Interest Committee, the IRB and CNBC handle this one.
Dr. K leading Pediatrics, most of that donated money would be equitably
distributed to a host of important faculty projects oriented toward patients
and families like the children’s school, nutrition research, and research to
gain greater insight into the cancer biology of sarcoma in kids. With her out
of the way, all that money can go toward the CAR T cell investment stock pool,
the ownership of which is still anything but transparent.
The motives behind the latest purge among the Division Heads
is, however, abundantly transparent. Like anything else involving DePinho or, for
that matter, the last 15 years of MD Anderson administrations, it’s about the
money and who gets to control it.
It couldn’t go any other way and it is not the last of the
ritual public/private hangings that we can expect of various faculty
sitting on the sidelines as successful Division Heads were fired, department
chairs left, and other faculty and non-faculty players who could get out did,
the Faculty Senate sowed the seeds of the pogrom now fully operationalized at
the hands of the white men who run MD Anderson.
Or should I say the white boys (?eunuchs?), for “the Man” was
nowhere to be found when his henchmen took off the latest Division Head’s head.
He likes it that way. He never gets his hands dirty. Very akin to the way the past
Head of the Division of Cancer Medicine was fond of, don’t you think?
Sooner or later they’ll come for you, too. It is just so
disappointing to see it play out like this on Holcombe, but these are the seeds
sown by the corrupt culture of the previous administration that supplanted the
faculty- and patient-centered eras of Clark and LeMaistre. No one should be
surprised. This blog certainly wasn’t and might even have played a role in the
whole fiasco. Mea culpa!
When Scorpion needed to cross a fast-flowing stream, he asked Frog
for a ride.
“You’ll sting me just as you did my brother,” said Frog.
I promise. I won’t. Just get me across, I have a pressing engagement on the
other side,” said Scorpion.
The frog let the scorpion hop on his back and carried him
across the stream against a brisk current. Just as they neared the other bank,
the scorpion stung the frog.
As he lay dying, Frog asked, “Scorpion, why did you do that
when you promised you wouldn’t?”
“You knew I was a scorpion when you gave me a ride.”
Be wary all. The scorpions are among you every time you walk
And they want your money. Remember The Sting?
Actually, be careful when they send in the clowns or the boys
acting like clowns. Always bring a friend, if you have any left!
beware the clowns have seltzer bottles for as long as the faculty’s hard work
supplies them with them.