Thursday, September 22, 2011

MSKCC.HARRISON

Something Funny Happened On The Way To Stockholm … The Pacific Yew Tree – Taxus brefivolia is an evergreen tree found in the Pacific North West. The chemotherapy drug paclitaxel used in breast, ovarian and lung cancer treatment is derived from Taxu brevifolia. The Danishefsky total synthesis of taxol (the third!, behind Holton and KC [hold the presses!] Nicolaou) completed the task via Baccatin III a natural product similar to taxol found in the harvestable (without removing the bark and thereby harming the Yew Tree) needles. The taxol race was high profile with much braggadocio prattled by its saber rattling Principal Investigator competitors. Danishefsky’s team nearly pulled off the coup, if not for the discovery team of postdoctorals dropping their guard and trusting the scaled up (previously solved piece of the puzzle farmed out) material provided by the (MSKCC/Sloan-Kettering Institute’s) in-house “prep” [preparative synthesis core facility] lab, whose personnel ordered the WRONG isomer of Wieland–Miescher Ketone, dooming an otherwise ultimately completed synthesis (purportedly all was solved save no-brainer synthetic accoutrements) to the wrong optical rotation, i.e. the non-natural product. Bill Bormann Ph.D. headed that Prep-Lab effort and Professor Danishefsky has referred to Bill as a “bird-brain” [note the editor of this comment does not necessarily agree with that description of Bill who was treated like a door-mat while at Sloan]. Danishefsky’s Post-Docs thought of dispatching Bill after Gilbert Stork’s team checked the optical rotation of the all but complete molecule [something Danishefsky’s discovery team of post-docs should have done before incorporating “Bird-Brain” Bill’s Prep-Lab contribution to the effort]. Danishefsky’s team dropped out of the Taxol playoffs and watched when Holton (whose paper was scrutinized/peer reviewed to a fault), yet bizarrely and curiously Nature held the presses while the pure as the driven snow KC Nicolaou (et al.) slurped their ink still dripping on the manuscript paper to the Editorial Board of Nature who promptly rubber stamped the paper in world record time. And so, another curious “tie” in science (remember when the French isolated HIV, and we (the Americans!) stole it from the French, but the Gipper (President Reagan) brokered a “tie” (don’t forget to follow the [potential!] money) … things were not hunky-dory at Sloan when the Taxol papers appeared. … fast forward, the Gordon Conferences serve up a natural product whose M.O. mode of action is not unlike Taxol, but which may have more clinical (anticancer) superpowers and less (clinical) side effects! … voila, a potential Billion Dollar Molecule! … and so the race is now on to best the others in the quest to synthesize the epothilones. This initiative is successful although the nefarious KCN (a.k.a. [to quote Erik Sorensen:] “that Bastard” (KCN, that is) was involved in some dubious IP coup v. Danishefsky attempts. There were concerns in the lab relative to appropriately signing daily lab notebooks (baad Dongfang Meng … and don’t p** on the floor either! as others need to tip toe around the resultant yellow river …), some reports of postdoctorals keeping two books (baaad Craig Coburn!) and questions about the scientific methodology of a molecular pharmacology colleague that was written off to being the result of a “cultural difference”; however, when one supplies a molecular pharmacologist with umpteen “nude mice” that are apt to get sick if you look at them the wrong way, or if the nipple on the water bottle leaks into the cedar bed of the mouse cage they’ll pass (die) through the night … but Dr. Chou gets all these mice, umpteen die for whatever reason and are not counted in an experiment and there are something akin to 3 mice left and if one does a reverse log graphs the Sloan analogue is a bit better than Bristol’s or Novartis’s or whatever and therefore Sarah Danishefsky is apt to declare “ours are better than theirs” and based on that questionable premise instruct a colleague to embargo known information relative to the availability of clinical trial candidates of competitors’ (Bristol/Novartis) compounds being vetted at Sloan Kettering from desperate cancer patients or their proxies who ferret out the lab following the publication of an article about epothilones in the high profile, (from a medical perspective, lay press WSJ)! After all, though Sloan’s candidate was not out of the proverbial starting gate yet, very large milestone royalty payments were on the line and Sarah Danishefsky, non clinician Administrative Manager of the Bioorganic Chemistry Lab and spouse of its Awesome PI saw fit to act in a cravenly self – serving manner. When this incident was relayed to an SKI colleague (Neal Rosen!) the Editorial and Graphics Specialist was warned that though such action was selfish it was not illegal for the Danishefsky’s to do, however, Sloan could be penalized (lose its license to conduct clinical trials) and therefore the incident would need to be swept under the rug (actually Neal was not so circumspect in his choice of words). Meanwhile it was reported by “Bird-Brain” [Samuel J. Danishefsky’s adjective] Bill Bormann that the head of Clinical Trials at Sloan (Dr. David Spriggs!) was irritated at Sam Danishefsky because he (a non-clinician) was pressuring Spriggs to continue enrolling patients in the by then being conducted clinical trial on the Sloan Kettering (Bioorganic Chemistry) epothilone derivative against his (Spriggs’) better clinical judgment. This is important because above mentioned milestone achievement royalty payments are based on milestones such as completing a clinical trial phase and would not be granted if the clinician stopped enrolling patients in the study. This is an egregious conflict of interest. When reported to MSKCC HR (Shaun Smith!), attempts were made to sweep this, too, under the rug. … Then we have the MSKCC Facilities Management follies [Ed Mahoney is its incumbent VP]: Sloan’s selfless employees in an ancillary building were getting SICK. When they reported their illnesses to MSKCC workers who up until that point were annually appraised as outstanding were dispatched on pretense. Sloan attempted to thwart attempts to investigate the causes and had to ABANDON the building when they could no longer duck the fact that MSKCC Facilities Management flaws resulted in its employees being POISONED by CARBON MONOXIDE. Having been privy to Sloan’s intransigence, inappropriate and nasty tack on that matter re proper addressment of this egregious safety flaw, the Editorial / Graphics Specialist was not a fan of the way the Public Affairs and Facilities Team operated. PA and Facilities work FOR SKI/MSKCC, not the other way around. PA and Facilities need to follow proper Safety doctrines, not dictate conjured and synchronized cover stories or versions thereof when it suits their needs. Being a relative non-transient (compared with the postdocs who stay at most 3 years), the Ed/Graph Spec was asked to take a C14 Chemistry Laboratory Certificate of Fitness Exam. Having passed the exam he became one of a few COF Holders on RRL 13. There were concerns of a “cross contamination” between supposedly mutually exclusive fume hoods reported by circumspect postdoctorals, wherein expunged fumes were somehow being recirculated (e.g. chemists from one lab would smell compounds not being used in their lab). This is a concern as one researcher may use a cyanide containing compound while using proper ventilation masks, while another researcher may be preparing a reaction with a stir bar and magnetic plate without proper respiratory protection and may breathe in a fume supposedly vented from another fume hood. One bizarre episode involved alarms sounding, chemists smelling “chlorine” or “bromine”, permeation throughout the floor, an evacuation of the building following an obvious lack of control by MSKCC Safety (a Safety officer refused to enter an area without a gas mask … a curious event as RRL 13 had lobbied for placement of such protection on the floor, but that request was denied). After the event Sloan attempted an inaccurate assuagement of the incident via a note signed by its head of Safety, but possibly ghosted by others (e.g. Public Affairs). When challenged, MSKCC Facilities merely threatened the Sloan C14 COF “you upset a lot of people when you mentioned OSHA”. However unit integrity also equals unit safety even if it means addressing MSKCC Facilities Management shortcomings. Sloan unbelievably but in fact chose NOT to install ductwork controls in the laboratory building strewn with toxins. Other Facilities follies included leaking of water through live electrical light fixtures, possibly from ductwork and/or filtered water conduits whose water is used somewhat universally in SKI experiments. If the integrity of those filtered water conduits are impeached then the efficacy of published results based on experiments that used that “purified water”, clinical candidates that result from such experiments and alas, the Intellectual Property Portfolio that results from those experiments, too must be questioned. More reasons for Sloan to attempt to sweep under the rug these problems. Then Sloan sought a new laboratory building but they could not tell the surrounding and rightfully concerned CB8M Community that it was in fact a replacement building. The ruse invoked was fun to watch, but sad indeed. Sloan’s facilities flaws continue to date, with charges of graft (no show jobs, falsified concrete tests) and even a recent legionella exposure (a situation presciently addressed in the OSHA complaint of 2004 that resulted in Sloan’s citation):

Stagnant water (such as that which accumulates secondary to the ceiling-leak-’phenomena’), combined with ductwork problems and an endless source of exposure to microorganisms may constitute a legionella or pneumonia (causative agent) hospitable environment and it may be appropriate to consider the installation of ultraviolet germicidal lights in the ductwork systems, similar to those apparently studied in The Lancet, (2003, 362 (9898), 1785), if such systems are not already in use and are not in variance with intermittent contact with volatile chemicals that may coincidentally ’seep’ into the ductwork.
Sloan has also been cited by the EPA.
Dr. David Golde, erstwhile MSKCC Physician in Chief committed suicide via the two whole method (bullet entry/exit wound). It was reported that he had a virulent cancer and (unverified) that the Feds were closing in on other matters.
Zvi Fuks, the Oracle behind Imclone who matched a foundling drug (eventually referred to as erbitux) with a company who sought a raison d’etre was purportedly tipped off during what became known as the Imclone insider stock anomalies.
There were also funny anomalies relative to bookkeeping in the Bioorganic Laboratory. Sarah Danishefsky would deign to show up at work, perhaps 50% time even though she was a “full time employee”, would interrupt SKI work by complaining over the phone about not being able to check her stocks via the internet, and there were funny bookkeeping initiatives; e.g. when the PI would travel at times he’d submit multiple times, to different places his ticket for reimbursement (e.g. academic talks combined with consultancies) and justify the double billing by stating that his time was important. He’d do the same to cover his wife’s ticket. When the admin charged with filing such reimbursements felt uncomfortable he was taken off the assignment and treated in a threatening manner by the PI and / or his spouse, the conflicted (interests!) “full time employee” Dr. Sarah Danishefsky.
Relative to the Danishefsky’s stocks, SJD was affiliated with Ariad, either on its scientific board or perhaps a scientific founder. When other biotech stocks flourished in ~ 1999 Ariad, embroiled in an intellectual property legal impediment, floundered at ~ 50 cents. When the case was settled, the stock rocketed to ca. 50 dollars (a 10,000% or 100X increase) in perhaps a four month period, until the (bio)tech stock bubble burst ca. March of 2000 [when Clinton and Blair had a joint news conference stating their intention to share genomic data and possibly hindering the ability to patent genes]. Ariad insiders would have been privy to when the settlement would occur and may have been liberal in passing this information on to others. Are there Ariad millionaires at Sloan? Are you an Ariad millionaire?
John Deutch the erstwhile DCI, Director of Central Intelligence (the CIA!) under Clinton, who was admonished for removing top secret computers from the agency (did he leave them at a Starbucks?) was granted a seconds to midnight pardon by President Clinton while Hillary was proverbally stealing the White House silverware. John Deutch has also been a chemistry professor at MIT, is a member of the proverbial Cambridge (MA, not UK!) Curia of king makers and has been affiliated with Ariad in a Board/Director and/or Advisor type capacity. Wouldn’t it be curious if any Clinton affiliate (e.g. Hillary, Chelsea, Bill?) happened to be an Ariad tippee and had an Ariad windfall prior to the Clinton pardon?
Ed Sausville vetted an NIH RAID (rapid application to industrial development, meant as a bridge to clinical development) grant for the bioorganic chemistry lab for its epothilone derivatives. It was granted. (remember, Sarah Danishefsky, accepts gov’t money to vet epothilones, yet attempts to steer people away from the clinical trials of competing compounds conducted at Sloan, an egregious conflict of interest from a non clinician). Sausville has since sat on the Scientific Advisory Board of the Biotech Company (since purchased by Bristol Myers Squibb) that developed the Sloan Kettering portfolio of epothilones [Kosan].
The Danishefskys have practiced mucophagy and rhinotillexamania. (for SJD, ear wax, too). [For SJD its apparently an absentminded pastime (perhaps he could take up painting as a pastime as did WC), but for Sarah it may very well be an insult conducted in front of people she considers herself better than].
Now Sloan is attempting to metastasize to Harrison. The mission of MSKCC is nonpareil and most of its employees are selfless and truly care. However, there are clinicians, suits and researchers in high places who inappropriately drop their guard and act selfishly to a fault. This is hurtful as these people clearly know better. Remember the statement: “Sloan is pursuing a systemic approach to reducing expenses and increasing revenues […] One example of this is discouraging terminally ill patients from seeking initial treatment or second opinions from the cancer center […] the admission of such patients is counterproductive […] to Sloan Kettering.” [paraphrasing salient features, MSKCC, CFO/Chief Financial Officer].
Sloan boasts as having the “best cancer care anywhere” … apparently as long as its consistent with Sloan’s revenue stream and/or the potential profit of high profile non clinicians stock portfolios.
There are many people who selflessly work at Sloan when they could be working in the for profit sector. When these employees rightfully bring concerns to the fore they are often dispatched under pretense (i.e. thrown under a bus). The admittedly critical tone of this summary of events is a rebuttal to such unacceptable attempts to bully and sweep under the rug egregious conflicts of interest and safety flaws. Just gifting Sloan back the bus that she’s apt to inappropriately attempt to toss others under.
! MSKCCheats / TheDanishefskyDeception ! … Stealing Hope One Clinical Trial Enrolee At A Time?? … when they ought to be steeling hope. …
Boo MSKCC, you know better, especially people who claim to personify a high level of religiosity. Why don’t you provide leadership by example?
Given the history of Facilities Management and Construction Flaws and Sloan’s curious (even if swept under the rug) conflicts of interest and ethics anomalies, it is appropriate to watch that ancillary expansion initiative closely and circumspectly ...


mskcc.harrison

CAREFUL OVERSIGHT OF

MSKCC HARRISON FACILITY INITIATIVE

IS APPROPRIATE ...


“Sloan is pursuing a systemic approach to reducing expenses and increasing revenues […] One example of this is discouraging terminally ill patients from seeking initial treatment or second opinions from the cancer center […] the admission of such patients is counterproductive […] to Sloan Kettering.” [paraphrasing salient features, MSKCC, CFO/Chief Financial Officer]

from the following url:

http://www.lohud.com/article/20110921/NEWS01/109210320/Sloan-Kettering-faces-state-Thursday-seeking-approval-Westchester-facility

salient features:

Sloan-Kettering faces state Thursday, seeking approval of Westchester facility

A state committee will meet Thursday to discuss a plan by a New York City cancer hospital to open a $143 million branch in Harrison — a project that has already gotten preliminary approval from the Department of Health.Even as Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center officials prepare to convince state officials that the proposed outpatient center is needed, physicians and hospital representatives from the Lower Hudson Valley are working on a strategy to defeat it.

* * *
The disingenuousness that emanates from MSKCC is inappropriately intermittently palpable. MSKCC's Facilities Management Inititiatives are strewn with flaws, substantiated by EPA and OSHA citations.


http://www.osha.gov/pls/imis/establishment.inspection_detail?id=307012641

These shortcomings ought to be considered prior to the granting of approval for the Harrison ancillary division of MSKCC.

mskcc.legionella

mskcc.legionella

This just in! MSKCC sprouts Legionella ... Legionnaire's Disease at MSKCC?

http://www.ny1.com/content/top_stories/147409/memorial-sloan-kettering-cancer-center-warns-against-its-tap-water-after-patient-contracts-legionnaire-s-disease

OSHA was warned about this possibility in 2004! ... [a salient feature of that complaint is provided below]

Stagnant water (such as that which accumulates secondary to the ceiling-leak-’phenomena’), combined with ductwork problems and an endless source of exposure to microorganisms may constitute a legionella or pneumonia (causative agent) hospitable environment and it may be appropriate to consider the installation of ultraviolet germicidal lights in the ductwork systems, similar to those apparently studied in The Lancet, (2003, 362 (9898), 1785), if such systems are not already in use and are not in variance with intermittent contact with volatile chemicals that may coincidentally ’seep’ into the ductwork.

That complaint resulted in a citation of MSKCC for 'serious' violations:

http://www.osha.gov/pls/imis/establishment.inspection_detail?id=307012641

To date, MSKCC's Facilities Team continues to have a work product that results in the compromising of employee and patient safety.

In the past MSKCC had to abandon a building when they could no longer deny that their employees were being subjected to poison(s) [carbon oxide(s)]; In the past MSKCC built a laboratory building strewn with poisons/toxins and knowingly did not install ductwork controls; MSKCC misstated the facts relative to the severity of a 'chlorine' spill that required an FDNY ordered building evacuation.


QED