On March 18, Dear Faculty, It Will Be Up To You

On March 18, Dear Faculty,
It Will Be Up To You

By

Leonard Zwelling

         The Chancellor is coming! The Chancellor is coming!

         It won’t be by land or sea either. It will likely be by air,
but remember he’s a Navy SEAL and could fool you.

         For reasons that escape me, the Chancellor is making another
trip to MD Anderson. If it’s a fact-finding trip, why is he wasting his time? If
it is to go through the motions of “listening,” don’t bother. But let’s give
him the benefit of the doubt and assume he is preparing to determine whether or
not he needs to intervene in the local struggles at MD Anderson.

Here’s
the facts. The morale is at an all-time low. It is not getting any better and
the President needs replacement as it is now clear beyond any doubt to a P
value of less than 0.05 that he is not capable of rehabilitation. How many more
surveys will be needed to assign the blame for this mess? He continues to fire
major players in American oncology who have actually developed, what Dr. Freireich
calls, “a treatment,” sending them to the showers to be replaced by his hand
picked internal toads as successors. They will be laboratory toads, too who
have never made any meaningful contribution to clinical care or clinical
research.  

Hell,
the two internal candidates for the Head of the Division of Cancer Medicine who
did not make the final cut are major players in American, if not international,
oncology. One of them may transform not only the care of leukemia patients, but
may succeed in pressuring the drug companies to stop gouging the sick with a
gutty grass roots petition drive. The other has led the largest and most
productive cellular therapy program in the country. These two men were
by-passed in favor of the winning candidate, a strong DePinho apologist who
cannot compare to the two runners up from inside Anderson. Oy!

         You can be sure that the audience on March 18 will be loaded
with him and additional DePinho apologists. I had to confront them when I
questioned the integrity of the President during a Ken Shine town hall meeting
in 2013.  The apologist I challenged is
in ascendency at Anderson currently. He got up and noted “all the lies printed
in the Houston Chronicle.” I had to challenge him to “name a single fact
printed in the Chronicle that was not true.” Of course, he could not. And he’s
supposed to be a scientist grounded in facts. Hah!

         So all of you out there who really believe in MD Anderson
and do not believe that Dr. DePinho is good for the mission or abides by the
core values ought to stand up and be counted. If you do not, the apologists
will win the day and nothing will change.

         Now don’t misunderstand me. I sincerely doubt anything will
change any way. My guess is that the Chancellor will either make a strong
statement of support of the current administration, in which case, buff up your
resume. Or he will continue to temporize as his predecessors have done. I never
thought Navy SEALS kick the can down the road with their flippers, but maybe
they do.

         If MD Anderson is to survive as a financially viable,
clinical care delivery system based on world-class clinical and translational
research, the President has got to go.

         If you disagree, go ahead and get up and apologize for his
bad behavior. There’s plenty to apologize for. But if you agree with me, step
up and tell the Chancellor. Somehow I suspect he is a good listener and that’s
why he is coming. He wants to hear from you. Make sure he does.

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