Happy New Year

Happy New Year


Leonard Zwelling

Resolutions. It’s that time again.

What promises to ourselves shall we make to begin the new year? There are always the usual ones. To lose weight. To exercise more. To be kinder. To get less aggravated. To begin therapy that you have been putting off. To stop therapy that is no longer working. You know. The usual.

Personal resolutions are fine, but they are just that personal. I would like to propose a few that apply on a more global scale or at least an institutional one.

Let’s start with my favorite institution—MD Anderson.

As I have recently written, the elimination of identity politics would go a long way toward addressing all of the bad feelings still pent up in the body faculty after the traumas of the last few years. I was so struck by how little of those divisive politics were in effect when I arrived in 1984 under Dr. LeMaistre. Dr. Pisters would do well to try to emulate the inclusiveness that was so much a part of Mickey’s tenure. It is harder now. The “salaries on grants nonsense” has really abetted a bad vibe that is so unnecessary. There is more than enough money to cover the salaries of all of the faculty. Why should that be the criteria for whether or not someone is contributing to the betterment of MD Anderson? The salaries on grants policy has done far more harm than any ukase from the top of Pickens ever did. Dial it back to a reward system for those getting grants rather than a penalty system for those who do not. If you want to foster group science, salaries on grants is no way to do it.

Next, reward faculty for service. I believe that every faculty member should serve at least three years on one of the federally-mandated committees during their seven years of term tenure as service to the institution. When I was a vice president, there were many faculty famous in my office for refusing to serve on committees, review protocols or consult with our office. This served these people well as they could put all of their efforts into activities that served their unique purposes but did not benefit the faculty as a whole or the institution. That should not be allowed. No, I will not name names as some are still around.

Finally, if MD Anderson is really part of the University of Texas, there should be direct rewards for teaching. I mean money for teaching in the Graduate School and acknowledgement at tenure time for having a large number of successful students in one’s lab.

As for resolutions for the country, I can only hope that the representatives and senators decide to actually do something of value and stop fawning over the President of the United States and go after him for the crimes he is likely to have committed. If he’s clean, let’s get it out there. If his taxes show no money borrowed from Russia, Americans have a right to know that. But if Mr. Trump is up to his gills in debt to the Russians and that is why he has acted toward their incursions into our elections as he has, let’s impeach him and move on.

Just like Mr. Trump, Dr. DePinho was an institutional and systemic error, but one that was correctable. Ron’s gone. Don’s next.

Happy New Year!

I resolve to blog on.

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