M.D. Anderson Cancer President resigns, admits to administrative shortcomings

Ronald DePinho said he will return to his passion for translational science and continue to focus on the cancer moonshot.
By Bernie Monegain
11:48 AM

University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center President Ronald DePinho will step down on March 20 from the position he has held for nearly six years.

A decision to name an interim president is expected by the end of this week, according to the Houston Chronicle.

In a video posted on the healthcare system’s website, DePinho admitted to weaknesses.

"I could have done a better job administratively, a better job listening, a better job communicating," DePinho said. “Forgive me for my shortcomings.”

DePinho said he was saying goodbye to the institution, but would not abandon the fight against cancer.

The center faced several challenges recently. This past January it cut about 1,000 jobs, blaming the measure on the cost of rolling out its electronic medical record system. It finished fiscal year 2016 in the red by $267 million.

According to a March 8 article in the Houston Chronicle, discontent with DePinho’s leadership “galvanized after a recent UT System audit into an abandoned $62 million project to apply IBM supercomputer Watson to cancer found significant financial irregularities.”

The cancer center launched its initiative with IBM’s cognitive technology in 2013. The news of the end of the project came on February 20 even as IBM CEO Ginni Rometty took the stage to deliver her keynote talk at HIMSS17. Though Rometty spoke of the promise of cognitive technology, she did not mention M.D. Anderson’s decision to put its work with Watson on hold.

DePinho, a cancer geneticist and researcher, said he planned to return to his passion of conducting translational science and helping others doing great science – to drive ideas to clinical impact that matter for patients.

“I need to focus on the cancer moonshot,” said DePinho, who serves as co-chair for Act for NIH.

Before he joined MD Anderson in 2011, he worked 14 years at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Harvard Medical School in Boston. 

Twitter: @Bernie_HITN
Email the writer: bernie.monegain@himssmedia.com

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