Leonard Zwelling

Dr. Zwelling is a board-certified internist and medical oncologist. He was trained at Duke University, Duke Medical School and Duke Hospital after which he completed his oncology training at the National Cancer Institute. He started his research career at NCI and in 1984 moved to The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center where he rose to the rank of Professor of Medicine and Pharmacology. He returned to business school at the University of Houston, graduating in 1993. He then gravitated to research administration.

Substance Abuse

What is going on in Congress right now with Democrats fighting over two infrastructure bills and Republicans relishing them doing so is nothing short of moronic.

First, as Michelle Goldberg points out in The New York Times on October 5, Arizona Democratic Senator Krysten Sinema has tied the debate up in knots simply because no one knows what it will take to get her to vote for anything in the social welfare package, if she will. Considering her past as a progressive activist, that’s pretty humorous. I think she became enamored of money—hers and her campaign’s.


When I got to MD Anderson in 1984 and began collaborating with members of a then-fractionated department previously called Developmental Therapeutics led by the legendary J Freireich, I was told about “Eli.”  I had recently left the NCI where we had our own Eli (Glatstein) and I wondered who the local Eli was. I soon found out.

The attached commemoration of the late-Eli Estey, MD written by his friend Vinay Prasad appeared in MedPage Today on October 13, five days after Eli’s sudden and unexpected death.


I enjoy watching Kyrie Irving play basketball. I have ever since he was a one-and-done at Duke and then went to the NBA and brought the Cleveland Cavaliers a championship alongside LeBron James. Mr. Irving is a gifted basketball talent and a dedicated spokesman for Black Lives Matter and has made major contributions to worthy causes. He’s a good citizen. BUT—he’s not vaccinated and this is going to cost him about $380,000 per home game plus several road games because New York where he plays for the Brooklyn Nets and San Francisco have vaccine mandates to allow entry into athletic stadiums. It could cost the Nets the NBA championship as well.

Borders Or Boarders

One of the hallmarks of Donald Trump’s run for the White House and his presidency was his stance on policies concerning immigration and the borders of the United States. He famously said “if you don’t have borders, you don’t have a country.” Guess what? He was right!


There are many vexing issues presented to the thinking person by the covid-19 pandemic. Why are so many people resistant to getting vaccinated? Why are people willing to use unproven and unapproved medicines to treat a disease for which there are real treatments, albeit not curative ones? Why are so many infected people minimally affected by the virus and some fatally infected? But for sure, the most vexing of all of the questions surrounding SARS-CoV-2 is where the heck did it come from?


As I understand it, the Physicians’ Referral Service (PRS) was the brainchild of R. Lee Clark. It served as a repository for the clinical revenues generated by the clinical faculty and paid for many of the benefits for BOTH clinical and basic science faculty.

The benefits package when I arrived at MD Anderson in 1984 was the best in all of academic medicine. Even as the salaries here were more than competitive, the benefits package was superlative and abetted the recruitment and retention of many stellar faculty members over the years. PRS benefits were the golden handcuffs that kept our best faculty in Houston.

Is Free Speech Free?

The advent of cancel culture and the ubiquitous nature of the internet let alone camera phones have just about eliminated the notion of privacy or the expectation thereof. If you say something to anyone, expect it to be heard.

Ted Rall relates how so many people are afraid to speak their minds for fear of being cancelled or fired for expressing an opinion the majority may not like. I believe this cancel culture victimization applies particularly to those people supporting Donald Trump but living in bastions of liberalism (i.e., near water) who have actually been fired for expressing a particular political opinion, even outside of work. This is simply wrong.

Vision And Will

In my previous blog, I discussed the confused state of the two political parties. The Republicans are being led by the Trumpist base of the mostly white Red State middle class Americans with few left defending traditional Republican values. The Democrats are in an even worse state as both elements of the party, the centrists and the progressives, are digging in their heels without compromising. The first Democratic element is skeptical of a $3.5 trillion welfare act and the second element deems it essential and long overdue. This second element is willing to sink the needed infrastructure bill to get all of their social welfare programs funded without meaningful discussion in congressional committees of each element of the social program.

The Trouble With The Third P

I am being bombarded by people on the left and the right about some of the stances I have taken in this blog. Good. That means I am both close to the middle and not far from being correct.

Readers may remember the four P’s of Washington, DC that I learned early in my Robert Wood Johnson Foundation fellowship. They are:





Revolving Door: Treasury And Accounting Firms

In this front-page article in The New York Times on September 20, Jesse Drucker and Danny Hakim describe what can only be seen as a major conflict of interest pattern between attorneys at major accounting firms and their service in the tax writing section of the Department of the Treasury. This has been going on for years and involves both parties. Lawyers with high rolling clients in the private sector get hired (at dramatically reduced salary) to serve in the government for months to years writing tax laws and corporate regulations that favor those same clients and then leave government to get rehired by their old firms (at much higher salaries) to advise the clients on how to take advantage of the very rules they themselves wrote.