The embattled Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas on Friday appointed Wayne Roberts, the vice president of public policy at the University of Texas Health Science Center in Houston, to serve as interim executive director.
The institute also chose Billy Hamilton, a former deputy comptroller of public accounts who was once the state's chief revenue estimator, to consult CPRIT on its fiscal policies.
Roberts currently serves on the Texas Pension Review Board as an appointee of Gov. Rick Perry. In the past, Roberts worked under Perry in a variety of positions, including senior fiscal adviser, state budget director and assistant director of budget and planning, according to his biography on the Pension Review Board website. He also helped draft the legislation to create the Texas Emerging Technology Fund.
"We are pleased to see the oversight committee taking steps to restore the integrity of the institute," said Josh Havens, a spokesperson for the governor in an email, "and setting the agency back on the right course of establishing Texas as the national leader for the development of cancer cures."
Former CPRIT Executive Director Bill Gimson resigned earlier this month after the Texas attorney general and Travis county district attorney opened civil and criminal investigations into potential conflicts of interest that may have swayed the institute’s awarding of multimillion-dollar grants. On Wednesday, lawmakers discussed their concerns about CPRIT at an Appropriations Committee hearing.
Jimmy Mansour, the chairman of the CPRIT oversight board, informally announced after the meeting that the institute found missing emails related to an $11 million grant to Peloton Therapeutics that was approved without proper review. CPRIT has given those emails to the district attorney's office, but Mansour did not disclose what information the emails contained.