Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Something Funny Happened On The Way To Stockholm






http://onstealinghope.blogspot.com … This blog’s author’s parents’ first child died of complications of childhood leukemia at Memorial Hospital two years before his (the blog author’s) birth.  Children afflicted with similar diseases today stand a good chance of survival due to in no small part to the efforts of MSKCC and like-minded institutions.  The stated mission of MSKCC is nonpareil. There are instances of brilliance and selflessness at MSKCC.  There are, however, instances of craven self-servitude committed by those who clearly know better. There is an intermittently palpable disingenuousness that emanates from Sloan-Kettering, as Sloan has not been an honest player relative to Environmental Health & Safety [EH&S] and Bioethics / Conflicts of Interest concerns, especially when presenting cases for expansion and leveraging employees who rightfully report problems.  The author of this blog was a C-14 Chemistry Laboratory Certificate of Fitness Holder at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center and has witnessed Sloan Kettering misstating the facts (lying) on many occasions relative to [chronic, acute, local, systemic and emergent] Environmental Health and Safety Problems that affect employee/community safety and reaction conditions of experiments conducted at the Institute. EH&S concerns relative to MSKCC have been reported to cb8M.com (Community Board 8, Manhattan), OSHA, etc., firstly confidentially and subsequently, publicly.  While at Sloan the author of this blog was instructed by a non-clinician colleague to mislead cancer patient(s) (or their proxies) as to the availability of clinical trial candidates created by competitors and tested at Sloan.  It has been reported that non-clinicians have attempted to leverage clinical trial overseeing physicians to continue enrollment in clinical trials in variance with clinician inclination. Large milestone royalty payments [contingent on completion vs. cessation of a clinical trial phase] are in play.  When reported to colleagues at Sloan, the author of this blog was told that as Sloan could lose its license to conduct clinical trials, these (and similar) bioethically challenged tacks would be swept under the rug.  Sloan merely conjures and synchronizes its cover stories when rightfully confronted with complaints.  Avice Meehan is the Vice President, Communications and Chief Communications Officer, MSKCC. Edward Mahoney is MSKCC’s VP, Facilities Management.  The Chief Financial Officer of MSKCC has stated (paraphrased):  Sloan is … pursuing a systemic approach to reducing expenses and increasing revenues. … this effort involves … policy decisions that seek to strike a … balance between providing service and squandering resources. 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 for a facility like Sloan-Kettering.   Unfortunately, you or a loved one may have a cancer scare, and after hurdling administrative / insurance obstacles (being fortunate enough to obtain an appointment for treatment) the forces of commerce (profit and/or potential profit) may influence enrollment in a clinical trial (in variance with candidate efficacy). People who are guilty of such craven self-servitude clearly know better.  Sloan’s slogan is: MSKCC, The Best Cancer Care Anywhere … apparently, as long as it’s consistent with Sloan’s revenue stream and/or the potential stock portfolio of powerful employees. 







! This Just In ! ... LMB, Lend Lease (formerly Bovis Lend Lease) admits to “fraudulently” overbilling its clients for the past two decades. “Through this deliberate scheme of billing clients FOR WORK NOT DONE, Bovis deceived their customers and stole taxpayer dollars,” said US Attorney for The Eastern District of New York Loretta Lynch.

MSKCC poisoned its employees (exposing them to carbon oxide(s)); MSKCC built a laboratory building and KNOWINGLY did NOT install ductwork controls. 

LMB, Lend Lease (formerly Bovis Lend Lease) admits to “fraudulently” overbilling its clients for the past two decades. “Through this deliberate scheme of billing clients FOR WORK NOT DONE, Bovis deceived their customers and stole taxpayer dollars,” said US Attorney for The Eastern District of New York Loretta Lynch.MSKCC poisoned its employees (exposing them to carbon oxide[s]); MSKCC built a laboratory building and KNOWINGLY did NOT install ductwork controls. Chronic and acute EH&S (environmental health and safety) shortcomings at MSKCC stand to affect and may very well have effected not only employee and community safety, but the efficacy of reaction conditions of experiments that result in clinical trial candidates. LMB/Bovis Lend Lease has overseen and continues to oversee major construction projects at MSKCC

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/04/25/nyregion/lend-lease-expected-to-admit-to-fraud-scheme.html?_r=1&pagewanted=all

[Bovis] Admits It Bilked Clients on Big Projects

http://www.fbi.gov/newyork/press-releases/2012/construction-giant-lend-lease-bovis-charged-with-defrauding-clients-in-three-separate-schemes-and-will-pay-over-50-million-and-institute-comprehensive-reforms

Construction Giant Lend Lease (Bovis) Charged with Defrauding Clients in Three Separate Schemes and Will Pay Over $50 Million and Institute Comprehensive ReformsFormer Principal in Charge of Bovis’ New York Office Pleads Guilty to Fraud Charge, Faces up to 20 Years in Prison, U.S. Attorney’s Office, April 24, 2012


LMB/Bovis Lend Lease has overseen and continues to oversee major construction projects at MSKCC

His fame was due in the first place to his capacity for self-promotion. Among his gimmicks was the [soliciting of nominations] of himself by famous [scientists] ... with the request to write ... praise [of] him or his work.

adapted from a description of Lieven Willemsz Van Coppenol, [Awesome!] -Master, painted / etched by Rembrandt, amongst others ...  ! 

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’s) 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 proverbial Taxol synthesis 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’s 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 graph or some other mathematical trick 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 (and likely not statistically significant) 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 that point 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 OXIDE(s). 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 (COF) 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 (a hypothetical) 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 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 admittance by the HEAD of one of the world's largest construction firms that has overseen large construction projects at Sloan that that organization unfathomably, yet knowingly did not complete projects) 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.

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

Curiously, though requested (implored!) in writing prior to a follow up site visit, to investigate specific fume hoods that were reported to exhibit the curious “cross contamination” phenomena, an OSHA investigator stated that he had to choose investigation sites randomly; i.e. Sloan was given a pass on this known and big picture damning, systemic problem.

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? Wouldn’t it be a coincidence if the erstwhile head (a VP!) of MSKCC Public Affairs (Avice! who coincidentally was at times of import to the processing of Professor Danishefsky’s auto-nominations [by proxy!] of himself for various scientific door prizes was an Ariad tippee?

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 proverbially 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, or a "blind" (my foot! ;) trust in their names?) 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 it’s apparently an absentminded pastime (perhaps he could take up painting as a pastime as did Winston C.), 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 it’s consistent with Sloan’s revenue stream and/or the potential profit of high profile non - clinicians’ stock portfolios.

MSKCC’s new President has recently been accused by his former employer of unscrupulous actions relative to intellectual property.

Don Wiley a world renowned virologist, one of the 'missing [or dead!] scientists' of post 9/11 conspiracy theorist fame [this factoid for your edification, not implying acceptance/or/denial of any missing/dead scientist conspiracy theories] ... just happened to fall off of a bridge [above the Mississippi while attending an SAB (scientific advisory board) type meeting] ... and his body was discovered perhaps 10 days later down stream. ... just happened to fall off of a bridge. Don was pals with other members of the Cambridge (MA/not UK!) Curia of biotech/big pharma academia king makers [e.g. an aspirant to that gang, Greg Verdine, of Harvard's renowned Chemistry Department]. GV was apparently a founding scientist of Ariad! Wouldn't it be a coincidence if Wiley was an Ariad millionaire? Were you?

re: http://www.nypost.com/p/news/local/manhattan/digging_up_secret_slay_Hnx86uB1mMi6BPdjLqTaIN

Professor Danishefsky's brother runs a boutique shop within (formerly) Merrill, now at UBS along with his brother's son and (formerly) his brother's daughter who (see above) had an untimely demise. There is no implied Ariad connection here, but it would be interesting if there was one.

For brevity we won't resurrect the previously mentioned Corey cache of suicides [go*gle lethal chemistry at harvard], or the whole Sezen (Dali, [academic] Son of Sam [don't have a relationship with your graduate student ... at least until the ink is dry on her (hopefully) true veracity thesis] Sames brouhaha ...

Suggestion of the Day! ... that Sloan's CFO and Drs. Danishefsky “present” (with powerpoint!) at the Occupy Wall Street initiatives ...

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.

Let us cite/paraphrase a few salient features of MLK’s speeches:

And there is deep down within all of us an instinct. It's a kind of drum major instinct—a desire to be out front, a desire to lead the parade, a desire to be first. And it is something that runs the whole gamut of life … A Dream, to be … judged by … the content of their character.

Institutes and people capable of such a high caliber work product ought to provide leadership by example (be a drum major!) and not act in a manner that reflects a poor content of character (craven self servitude) …

MSKCC, the best cancer care anywhere! …


This blog’s author’s parents’ first child died of complications of childhood leukemia at Memorial Hospital two years before his (the blog author’s) birth.  Children afflicted with similar diseases today stand a good chance of survival due to in no small part to the efforts of MSKCC and like-minded institutions.  The stated mission of MSKCC is nonpareil. There are instances of brilliance and selflessness at MSKCC.  There are, however, instances of craven self-servitude committed by those who clearly know better. There is an intermittently palpable disingenuousness that emanates from Sloan-Kettering, as Sloan has not been an honest player relative to Environmental Health & Safety [EH&S] and Bioethics / Conflicts of Interest concerns, especially when presenting cases for expansion and leveraging employees who rightfully report problems.  The author of this blog was a C-14 Chemistry Laboratory Certificate of Fitness Holder at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center and has witnessed Sloan Kettering misstating the facts (lying) on many occasions relative to [chronic, acute, local, systemic and emergent] Environmental Health and Safety Problems that affect employee/community safety and reaction conditions of experiments conducted at the Institute. EH&S concerns relative to MSKCC have been reported to cb8M.com (Community Board 8, Manhattan), OSHA, etc., firstly confidentially and subsequently, publicly.  While at Sloan the author of this blog was instructed by a non-clinician colleague to mislead cancer patient(s) (or their proxies) as to the availability of clinical trial candidates created by competitors and tested at Sloan.  It has been reported that non-clinicians have attempted to leverage clinical trial overseeing physicians to continue enrollment in clinical trials in variance with clinician inclination. Large milestone royalty payments [contingent on completion vs. cessation of a clinical trial phase] are in play.  When reported to colleagues at Sloan, the author of this blog was told that as Sloan could lose its license to conduct clinical trials, these (and similar) bioethically challenged tacks would be swept under the rug.  Sloan merely conjures and synchronizes its cover stories when rightfully confronted with complaints.  Avis Meehan is the erstwhile VP, Public Affairs, MSKCC and apparently continues to advise/consult Sloan. Edward Mahoney is MSKCC’s VP, Facilities Management.  The Chief Financial Officer of MSKCC has stated (paraphrased):  Sloan is … pursuing a systemic approach to reducing expenses and increasing revenues. … this effort involves … policy decisions that seek to strike a … balance between providing service and squandering resources. 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 for a facility like Sloan-Kettering.   Unfortunately, you or a loved one may have a cancer scare, and after hurdling administrative / insurance obstacles (being fortunate enough to obtain an appointment for treatment) the forces of commerce (profit and/or potential profit) may influence enrollment in a clinical trial (in variance with candidate efficacy). People who are guilty of such craven self-servitude clearly know better.  Sloan’s slogan is, MSKCC, The Best Cancer Care Anywhere … apparently, as long as it’s consistent with Sloan’s revenue stream and/or the potential stock portfolio of powerful employees. 

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

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

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

Thursday, February 18, 2010

MSKCC, DANISHEFSKY, VARMUS, SLOAN KETTERING, CHRISTINE HICKEY, ED MAHONEY, SHELLY FRIEDMAN

This blog presents ethics and safety concerns at a high profile cancer center (MSKCC), where clinical trial candidates are developed. It is not run by MSKCC or anyone currently affiliated with that Institution. It does not imply that one should not seek appropriate medical attention for an ailment by a reputable physician (at MSKCC or elsewhere).

MSKCC, DANISHEFSKY, VARMUS, SLOAN KETTERING, CHRISTINE HICKEY, ED MAHONEY, SHELLY FRIEDMAN

For a summary of ethics and safety concerns at a high profile cancer research center (mskcc, where clinical trial candidates are developed), please see:

www.mskccheats.blogspot.com or http://onstealinghope.blogspot.com

MSKCCheats / TheDanishefskyDeception ! Leak of the Day: Funny bookkeeping in the Danishefsky Laboratory? Sarah Danishefsky who shows up at work perhaps 50% time (lunch included)! is elevated from '54% employee' (whatever that is!) to 'full time employee'. When questioned by the admin charged with electronic time card submission Sarah denies being a 'full time employee'. When questioned further, she assumes the electronic time keeping duties (she deigns to work!) No one is talking about this curious anomaly! The quarterly verification sheets come from research resources management to be signed by the PI (that would be Professor Samuel J. Danishefsky!), yet he wants his admin to sign it on his behalf! Admin feels something isn't quite right (kosher!) and leaves form in signature file for SJD to address. Sarah Danishefsky after deigning to show face at Sloan has a fit as her spouse would by signing the form be misstating the facts (i.e. LYING!) about his wife's time and effort (does trading her own stocks from home, while the lab receives federal funding for not only RO1 discovery grants, but NIH RAID grants whose raison d'etre is to develop clinical trial candidates to the point of enticing either big pharma, or minimally biotech ... and then the lovely Dr. Sarah Danishefsky, non-clinician attempts to intercede (steer away!) desperate cancer patients or their proxies from clinical trial candidates as they compete with those that have YET to emanate from the lab her spouse PIs! After all when she calls from her home at 11 AM to complain that she 'can't check my stocks!' [wouldn't a 'full time employee' be at work by 9AM?] when there's an internet access problem at her home, or she has a meltdown when the verizon dsl people set up the internet access, but don't set up Yahoo Finance as a default home page (and alas, poor, poor Sarah Danishefsky can't check her stocks) something is amiss. More fodder Sam Danishefsky travels on an academic (talk) / consultancy trip and submits his airplane ticket to multiple hosts (academic/biotech) and claims 'my time is important'. ... meanwhile on more than one occasion(s) that his wife travels with him he tries to cover her ticket by submitting his multiple times and the admin doesn't feel quite right doing this ... once again Sarah Danishefsky is upset and the clearly unacceptable attempted intimidation begins. ... while she's purging her files of incriminating evidence ... OOPS! ... Add to the fray the FACT that Dr. Sarah Danishefsky in an egregious act of craven self servitude instructs a colleague (a junior but not direct report) to embargo known information relative to the availability of a clinical trial candidate [one that is out of the proverbial gate prior to Sloan's (read the bioorganic's candidate) developed by a competitor and trialed at Sloan Kettering, when high stakes milestone achievement monetary rewards are on the line ... and you have a classic case study in egregiously disingenuous conflicts of interest. ... one that may not be illegal from the perspective of the selfish Danishefskys but acts that could cause Sloan Kettering to lose its licenses to conduct clinical trials. ... and that is why Sloan has attempted to sweep such incidents under the rug.

Add to the fray the bizarre Facilities Management fiascoes created by Sloan's Facilities team(s) ... graft, no show jobs, ducts to nowhere, cement testings never performed, OSHA and EPA citations and you have a situation where the reliability of reaction conditions in the research labs are apt to be impeached. ... and there would go kaput the entire Sloan Kettering docket of intellectual property.

The shame of all this is that the ethics lapses are completely unnecessary given the caliber of science conducted at Sloan. As to the Facilities fiascoes, its a never ending mass of what me worry construction.

Recall the brazen tack of Sloan as espoused by its CFO ... “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]. Though Sloan may attempt to duck this, as the website has been expunged, digital forensics could verify its prior posting.

and remember the tip of the iceberg:

http://www.osha.gov/pls/imis/establishment.inspection_detail?id=307012641
http://www.nytimes.com/2011/08/05/nyregion/6-charged-with-falsifying-concrete-testing-results.html?_r=1&scp=1&sq=sloan%20kettering%20concrete&st=cse

Concrete Tests Faked Again, Officials Charge

In 2008, a company hired to test the strength of the concrete used at major public works projects in New York … falsified results, prosecutors concluded, and construction executives scrambled to find a replacement.

On Thursday, the company they selected, its owner and five employees were arraigned on charges of doing the very same thing on those two projects and hundreds of others.

In fact, none of the nearly 3,000 test reports that investigators seized from the replacement company, American Standard Testing and Consulting Laboratories, contained legitimate test results, according to one person briefed on the inquiry that led to the charges.

“The volume of fabricated tests is egregious,” the Manhattan district attorney, Cyrus R. Vance Jr., said in announcing the charges. “It was systemic; it was pervasive.”

the projects for which test results were allegedly falsified represented … a building at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, Weill Medical College, Columbia University...

what’s left unsaid is whether Sames and Sezen were ‘having an affair’. blind ambition run amok ... http://www.cendigital.org/cendigital/20110808_sub?sub_id=zux3fQnmeamv&folio=40#pg42

don't forget to follow the money.

as to the Danishefskys, perhaps you ought to read for the purpose of understanding, as opposed to parroting the good book(s) you portend to champion. you are SUPPOSED to be our hero, not the scoundrel(s). As to Sloan, why do you allow your leadership types to act in variance with your motto 'the best cancer care anywhere'? ... perhaps you should add: as long as consistent with leaderships stock portfolios?

how about a dose of 60 minutes, drudgereport or Matt Taibbi reportage on this subject?


“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]

Institutes and individuals capable of performing such high levels of research clearly know better than to act in so disingenuous and selfish a manner

Why would a non clinician instruct a colleague to withhold/embargo known information relative to availability of clinical trial candidates developed off site, yet tested at MSKCC (e.g. BMS’, Novartis’) when the in house (e.g. Bioorganic’s) candidate had not yet left the proverbial starting gate?

Why have there been reports of high profile non clinicians leveraging clinicians overseeing clinical trials to continue enrollment possibly in variance with the intuition of the clinician … when very large ‘milestone’ (e.g. completion of a clinical trial phase) achievement royalty payments are in the balance?

Why would Sloan abandon a building after its employees are chronically exposed to poison (carbon oxide(s)) after terminating on pretense employees who complained about heath concerns?

Why would Sloan build a laboratory building strewn with toxins and knowingly not install ductwork controls?

MSKCC has been cited for ’serious’ environmental health and safety infractions by OSHA

MSKCC has been cited by the EPA

Ed Mahoney VP currently heads MSKCC Facilities Management

Sarah Danishefsky Ph.D. (a non clinician) has administered the bioorganic chemistry laboratory

Attorney Shelly Friedman has represented MSKCC when it attempts to assuage a rightfully concerned local community (and its CB8M board) relative to environmental health and safety (EH&S) concerns

Christine Hickey has in the past been a spokesperson for MSKCC

MSKCC, we hoped you’d be our hero.

MSKCC, minimally you’re supposed to care.

Shame on you MSKCC

Boo.

You know better.

How dare you, MSKCC

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

MSKCC

This blog presents ethics and safety concerns at a high profile cancer center (MSKCC), where clinical trial candidates are developed. It is not run by MSKCC. It does not imply that one should not seek appropriate medical attention for an ailment by a reputable physician (at MSKCC or elsewhere).

MSKCCheats

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]

Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (MSKCC)’s policies relative to the following Conflict of Interest [COI]/ethics and Safety issues are of concern:
On occasion [e.g. when an article appears in the lay press] an intuitive (and persistent cancer) patient (or their proxy) accesses the Bioorganic Chemistry Laboratory via phone, seeking information about (and participation in) epothilone clinical trials conducted at MSKCC. In the past the non-clinician Ph.D. Administrative Manager [AM] (Dr. Sarah Danishefsky, the spouse of the Principal Investigator [PI, also a Professor of Chemistry at Columbia University]) of the high profile Bioorganic Chemistry Laboratory has instructed a junior, but not direct report to keep secret (withhold/embargo) known information relative to the availability of clinical trials conducted at MSKCC on a (Bristol Myers Squibb [and/or possibly Novartis’] developed epothilone derivative) drug candidate(s) that compete(s) directly with an epothilone analogue candidate that emanates from the Bioorganic Chemistry Laboratory, in variance with the above-mentioned queries and the fact that the AM had actually apprised her coworker that a clinical trial on the competitor’s drug candidate(s) was or were commencing (or had commenced) at Sloan and then instructed him to embargo this information. The AM subsequently attempted to cloak her motives by stating “ours are better than theirs,” invoking early, at that point unverified comparative in-vitro and/or in-vivo data points (supplied by a colleague whose scientific methodology had been questioned on more than one occasion by disparate, mutually exclusive researchers, (grant and other) administrators and/or industrial courtship candidates who did not know of each other’s concerns about the Sloan colleague researcher). At that point in time the Bioorganic’s candidate was ~ an estimated 1 year from the start of a proposed and hoped for clinical trial (which has apparently since begun [off site, and possibly at Sloan]). The lab had smarted, being bested (and dropping out of a front-runner position) in a high profile natural product synthesis race when a staff process chemist charged with supplying an already solved piece of the puzzle for subsequent, forging ahead iterations of the synthesis attempt reportedly used the wrong racemer of a reagent that was not checked appropriately by the A team prior to utilization, dooming an otherwise successful virtually complete synthesis to failure. Germane is a financially significant, development / rights purchase of a Bioorganic Laboratory epothilone drug candidate by Roche via Kosan (its licensee) [since abandoned by Roche, Kosan recently being purchased by BMS]. Although one can understand the premise of not promoting a competitor’s product, that business tenet would clearly not be applicable in this situation at Sloan. Though warned on more than one occasion to not report these problems by Sloan employees the Sloan employee felt uncomfortable misleading seemingly desperate cancer patients or their proxies and always referred these queries to either the MSKCC Physician Referral help line or to administrators or nurse clinicians affiliated with the clinician under whose aegis the BMS [and/or possibly the Novartis] trial (and possibly, now, the Bioorganic candidate’s study) is apparently conducted at Sloan) for proper vetting. That the Administrative Manager would place her own potential financial successes and results above the content of the character of the Sloan-Kettering Institute may not be a surprise. That she instructed (and expected) her coworker to abet this initiative was out of line and evidence of a lack of respect for the Institute and for her coworker, who did not think that the AM would go so low as to expect him to do her dirty work or for her to drop her guard to the point that she’d expose herself, the lab and Sloan to this type of ethics liability, considering that the Bioorganic compound(s) might very well prove to be the best of the epothilone class, after proper clinical trial vetting. Such a tack, if followed would be in variance with that espoused [by Varmus, Nurse, Mendelsohn and/or Abeloff] on the “Titans of Cancer” television special. The Sloan employee’s parent’s first child died of complications from childhood leukemia at Memorial Hospital two years before he was born. A child with this affliction today stands a good chance of survival due in no small part to the therapeutic advances fomented at Sloan and other like-minded Institutions, yet if the above-mentioned bio-ethically challenged tack were allowed to continue unchecked, it would tarnish the otherwise important science and medicine that emanates from MSKCC and instead of properly steeling hope, Sloan Kettering would merely be stealing hope, one clinical trial enrollee at a time. There is a difference between proudly standing behind one’s brilliant work product and bending the rules when convenient for oneself, especially when lives may be in the balance and when the professionals bending rules are people and/or Institutions who clearly know better and who claim to be standard bearers of higher ethical practice. A US Army General (possibly a War-College dean/affiliate) has stated (I paraphrase) that Harvard MBA candidates learn to overcome ethics while pursuing a profit. Such an MO may be in variance with the COI and ethics policies of MSKCC. The above mentioned instance of craven self-servitude is coupled with other episodes of intermittently palpable disingenuousness at Sloan (e.g. that the AM is considered a “full time” employee, yet is often on campus at most perhaps 50% time and has had the temerity to complain during work hours via phone from off-campus that she could not check her stocks, peculiar acts of self promotion (e.g.: arranging for one’s own nomination for scientific accolades, the PI penning a nomination for himself for the Nobel in his own longhand on the nomination form] and acting surprised and naive when awarded them, including a prize from the very company [BMS] on the short end of the AM’s conflicted interest [though the PI once stated that if [the President of the MD Anderson Center] won that award, that he didn’t want it]), a protégé professor who fellowshipped in the Bioorganic Lab involved in his own hubris inspired imbroglio (retraction of multiple tenure facilitating papers and allegations of having an affair with a student and of her “irreproducible” data); The Principal Investigator (PI) was admonished by the President of the Institute for being “disingenuous” when the PI submitted a paper to a high profile journal and stated in the paper submission cover letter that he’d “shown the paper to” the [President of the Institute], when in fact he’d copied him on the submission after the paper was submitted. The President was upset that one might infer that he approved of the paper; A “promising”, substance abusing graduate student at the PI’s Columbia Lab threw a heavy object off of the roof of the Chemistry Building on to a patio strewn with departmental revelers during a welcoming party for new graduate students; It has been reported (e.g. by an erstwhile colleague, Ms. Sara Fr*) that the MSKCC Director of Communications/Spokesperson, Christine Hickey has a history of (familial) mind altering drug/substance [cocaine] abuse; Dr. Sarah Danishefsky quarreled over seating the daughter of a recently widowed benefactor of a named MSKCC lecture at a post lecture dinner because Dr. Danishefsky had already devised a seating plan socially acceptable to herself; The Bioorganic PI had reportedly been barred from consulting at a branch of a NJ based major pharmaceutical company, concerns about the efficacy of laboratory notebook record keeping and the egregious physical plant shortcomings at the Institute (a confluence of bizarre design, building/construction and facilities management flaws in the RRL laboratory building that intermittently, inappropriately render the RRL a toxic firetrap [whose cover-up (and the ruse invoked while duping a rightfully concerned local community, the community board and the city relative to systemic infrastructure problems in the RRL and safety issues at MSKCC that affect employee and community safety) allowing for the hurdling of impediments to the squirming construction of the new/replacement Sloan research tower and the granting of a zoning variance has included the conjuring and synchronizing of cover stories (as well as threats against employees who appropriately report environmental health and safety (EH&S) problems at Sloan) by MSKCC (facilities management and other Sloan administrators). [Sloan’s Facilities team is currently headed by VP, Ed Mahoney and is represented by attorney Shelly Friedman while attempting to assuage a rightly concerned local community relative to safety issues] Sloan had to previously abandon a building due to facilities/infrastructure problems that allowed for its employees to be exposed to poisonous carbon monoxide]; The Institute was cited by OSHA for “serious” Environmental Health and Safety violations,
These and other infrastructure problems affect reaction conditions and therefore stand to impeach the credibility of research conducted at Sloan (e.g.: cross contamination between supposedly mutually exclusive fume hoods reported by circumspect researchers, ductwork whose controls were unfathomably, yet knowingly, not installed properly by MSK, water leaking through live electrical light fixtures). It has also been reported that the PI of the Bioorganic Laboratory has attempted to leverage (to the point of irritating) the clinician overseeing clinical trials at Sloan to continue and/or increase enrollment in a trial of the above-mentioned bioorganic drug candidate in variance with the clinician’s concerns about the bioorganic drug candidate’s efficacy and patient safety. This is significant because very large milestone dependent royalty payments are contingent upon continued enrollment of patients and/or completion of a clinical trial’s “Phase.” A high profile researcher/clinician (a deputy physician in chief) at Sloan was arrested following an SEC investigation for insider (Imclone) stock trading; The former physician in chief committed suicide; Off-scale windfall profits have been available to biotech company insiders at Sloan, perhaps their fortunate tipees (e.g.: Ariad [stock ticker: Aria] whose stock price jumped one hundred (100) times or ten thousand (10,000) percent during a relatively short ~ five (5) month period (10/99-3/00) following assuaging of a “buy” impediment [the former Director of the Central Intelligence Agency, pardoned by President Clinton, has sat on the Board of Ariad]) and perhaps fortunate future tipees, were this type of lightning to strike again. Although the honest application of the forces of commerce (monetary reward for brilliant and properly vetted hard work) are appropriate, inappropriate leverage by a powerful non-clinician possibly resulting in someone being a pawn so that a non-clinician or the Institute could receive a royalty payment that lay in the balance, or the embargoing of known information about the availability of competitors’ clinical trial drug candidates conducted at MSKCC are likely not. Congress has investigated the National Institutes of Health (NIH) relative to ethics/conflict of interest concerns (e.g.: the National Cancer Institute’s (NCI’s) erstwhile Director). So who’s minding the store and who can a desperate cancer sufferer trust if the guardians are equally or more concerned with their own stock portfolios than patient safety and drug efficacy? The Chief Financial Officer (CFO) of Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center has stated: “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.” Some of these issues have been broached in the New York Times, The New York Observer, other press publications and even Michael Moore’s movie “Sicko.” For the protection of the Institute, in these times of heightened corporate, medical and pharmaceutical industry scrutiny and accountability, given that the research conducted in the Bioorganic Chemistry Laboratory is funded in part by government (e.g.: NIH RO1 [discovery] and RAID [scale-up for industrial development (the NIH researcher/administrator who vetted the Sloan epothilone candidate prior to award of an NIH RAID grant has interestingly since sat on the Board of Kosan)]) grants and philanthropic (e.g.: MSKCC Major Donor) sources and that MSKCC is reviewed (and accredited) by the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Hospital Organizations (JCAHO), please clarify Sloan’s policy relative to the ethics/conflict of interest awkwardness discussed in this note. One ought to be wary whether a greeting offered by Sloan to a cancer sufferer (especially one who is recruited to join a [lab to clinic] “translational” experimental study) is a compassionate smile or a smirk and whether Sloan is a leader in the fight against cancer or merely a cog in the “cancer racket.” There is a connection between the EH&S and ethics problems as potential and/or realized profit has affected the non-addressment of systemic environmental health and safety issues at Sloan. Has Sloan conjured and synchronized their cover stories relative to these issues as MSKCC has done in the past relative to other white-washes for which Sloan “conducted its own investigation” (eg: EH&S, “drug dealing” in its basement [the General Stores (GS) takes up a large portion of the MSKCC basement and one must be concerned as to if and how extensively the GS were compromised [and if government subsidized products or patient safety were compromised])? Is MSKCC following the Hippocratic or Hypocritic Oath? The PI of the lab discussed in this note has in the past been ‘predicted’ to win the Nobel Prize,
People and Institutes capable of performing this level of science clearly know better than to act this way, especially when it is clearly not necessary. One is reminded of the “don’t you care,” and “Ending” scenes from Al Pacino’s And Justice For All. MSKCC, we hoped that you would be our hero. Minimally, you’re SUPPOSED to care. MSKCC’s slogan is “the best cancer care anywhere”; apparently per the CFO, not if you are not a potential contributor to MSKCC’s revenue stream, or have a serious or advanced cancer and given the interesting self serving leverage that non clinicians attempt to invoke only if consistent with their stock portfolio’s health. Giants such as Drs. Fair and Petrek who gave their hearts and souls to their patients and to MSKCC might spin in their graves were they to know that titular (e.g. the C.F.O.) and de facto (the lab of a powerful non clinician) leaders at Sloan are capable of acting in the manner presented in this missive. MSKCC: Shame on you! How dare you!
Below is an elaboration on safety concerns in a research building at MSKCC where clinical trial drug candidates are developed:
Laboratory for Bioorganic Chemistry
Sloan Kettering Institute for Cancer Research
Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center
To: NIOSH, NY OSHA (Compliance Control Officer), NYFD Deputy Chief Inspector (Lab Unit),
EPA (CEPP)
From: C-14 (Chemistry Laboratory) Certificate of Fitness Holder, Sloan-Kettering Institute
To whom it may concern,
I am a C-14 (Chemistry Laboratory) Certificate of Fitness Holder at the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center’s, Sloan-Kettering Institute-Rockefeller Research Laboratory (RRL) Building (430 E. 67th Street). In light of a recently announced fine to Sloan-Kettering by the EPA (apparently relative to mislabeled medical waste) and alleged ‘threats’ to ‘individuals or civic leader(s)’ (local ‘Our Town’ Newspaper, relative to Sloan’s contentious laboratory building initiative), I feel it appropriate to call your attention to (and submit for the record a report of) intermittent, yet recurrent chronic, un-rectified systemic infrastructure shortcomings at the (RRL) Building that stand to affect (and are likely affecting) the environmental health and safety (EH&S) of myself, my co-workers and by extrapolation, the surrounding Community. I do this for my own protection and for the protection of my former, current and future colleagues and colleague-charges. Rectification of these safety issues may warrant your organization’s investigation (e.g.: re air quality analysis, fire safety, and architectural records relative to known ductwork [and other infrastructure] problems) and/or oversight as these conditions continue to re-manifest themselves, intermittently, to date. Prior to the composition (and submission) of this note, I have contacted the proposed recipients’ [office(s) and/or organization(s)] and have received counsel as to where to submit my query. The goal of this query is to facilitate a mechanism whereby chronic problems that I’ve witnessed, or that have been reported to me by circumspect colleagues, in RRL over a ten-year period are addressed in a satisfactory (as opposed to a superficial and/or stopgap) manner and solved.
I have worked at MSKCC for approximately ~12+ years and have not missed one day of work (that has not been made up in a timely manner). Since 1993 I have worked on RRL 13. I have either witnessed (or received reports from circumspect colleagues of) systemic shortcomings in the Facilities Management and the infrastructure of the RRL building that have allowed for Sloan’s employees (and by extrapolation, the surrounding Community) to be exposed to acutely dangerous as well as to chronically negligent environmental health and safety conditions. Below, I outline but a few examples and briefly summarize the intransigence, hostility of (and misstatement of facts by) MSKCC’s Facilities Management Administration, the Safety Department and their confederates when they are asked to investigate and / or address these environmental health and safety issues.
Symptoms of systemic problems are manifested in the form of and include, but are not limited to:
*Cross contamination and/or recirculation of supposedly evacuated substances via faulty ductwork (that was unfathonably, yet knowingly, never installed properly by MSKCC/Facilities Management [VP Ed Mahoney currently heads MSK/Facilities), drains, improperly sealed floors/ceilings/(and unused [covered (e.g.: by installed walls), yet not sealed] drains) and elevator shafts [(a) between rooms on RRL 13, (b) between RRL 13 and the animal facility on RRL 12, and (c) between RRL 13 and other RRL floors] occurs intermittently, yet is unabated and is consistent with exposure of workers to fungus, mold, animal secretion exudates and organic and volatile, toxic (and otherwise harmful) compounds, chemicals, solvents, biohazards, radioactive-substances, carcinogens and disease causing microorganisms and/or pathogens.
*The animal facility cross-contamination and/or ’seepage’ also occurs on other floors in RRL and is intermittently prevalent in the lavatories.
*Reports of cross contamination between supposedly mutually exclusive chemical fume hoods by extremely circumspect, high caliber Ph.D. researchers has in the past been dismissed by MSKCC Facilities Management Administrators as ‘impossible.’ Germane to this issue is that there is a ‘radiation room’ on the floor that apparently utilizes fume hoods. Seminal experiments on compounds that have become clinical trial candidates are conducted in these fume hoods.
*Water leaks intermittently from the ceiling, from ducts and/or (distilled?) water conduits in RRL 1326, the NMR Core Facility, a room with organic and volatile solvents and cascades over, through (and at times remains settled stagnantly in) live fluorescent light fixtures. This ‘phenomena’ also occurs at other locations on RRL13. Initial reports of this phenomena resulted in Sloan-Facilities workers stating that we’d have to ‘wait a few weeks’ to address the problem, which continues, intermittently, to date.
*Although I have not missed one day of work in ~12+ years at Sloan I have experienced bouts of severe, chronic bronchitis, whose incidence(s) correlate positively with the HVAC/safety problems discussed in this note. If one can smell the airborne exudates(s) from the animal facility/cages (e.g.: putrid wood-shaving beds, urine, feces, etc.) one is also smelling and being exposed to and absorbing any airborne biohazards, toxins, carcinogens, teratogens, pathogens [including airborne dander from experimental animals treated with experimental, often toxic substances] etc., concomitant and associated with the animal facility environment. [Having worked with (nude) mice as but one component of a post-baccalaureate research laboratory technician position with a lab focused on monoclonal antibodies at another Research Institute I am not completely naive relative to the environmental, health and safety concerns and limitations affiliated with a research animal facility].
*Other health related concerns/events that correlate positively with RRL infrastructure (HVAC?) shortcomings include the fact that an otherwise healthy postdoctoral had once collapsed on the floor, requiring plastic surgery to address his resultant injury. Another researcher on the floor had been diagnosed with pneumonia. Earlier, 4 coworkers missed as much as one week each, while suffering from severe respiratory infections. In addition, another Investigator suffers from ear, nose and throat complications that intermittently require medical attention. This researcher’s office has intermittent, yet unabated, air circulation problems. If not (minimally, partially) causative, the air circulation problems on the floor can only exacerbate this Investigator’s ENT problem.
*Growth-media (supposedly unused on RRL 13) and therefore microbes growing in it that may become airborne, whose source is unknown but may include biohazard hood systems elsewhere in the building (but apparently not on RRL 13), and whose conduit source may include drains, ducts and elevator shafts, is intermittently sensed (smelled) on RRL 13.
*The Sloan Building Services attendant assigned to RRL13, on more than one occasion, has apprised me of a film of unknown composition that regularly settle(s) atop the bookcases in RRL 1301, an administrative office with known ductwork problems.
*Chemicals (that smell like either pyridines (a known teratogen) and/or acid chlorides or chloroformates are intermittently smelled on RRL 13 (RRL 1301 [an administrative office] and RRL13’s North and East Corridors) even though these chemicals are supposedly used on RRL 13 solely in the fume hoods, are stored in freezers in the RRL Central Core Lab, and one cannot smell the chemicals in the aisles of the laboratories when they are sensed (smelled) in the administrative office and/or corridor.
*In the past, when I reported chemical smells similar to those mentioned above in the hallways and offices on the floor, the head of MSKCC Safety invoked the tea kettle-pot, mutual-accusation conundrum. The fact that chemicals are used in supposedly functioning fume hoods and stored in freezers in the RRL Core and Labs, does not account for why chemicals are smelled in administrative offices and halls where there is apt (on any given day) to be little, or no, circulation.
The HVAC problems have re-manifested in the form of ductwork that was intermittently down for extended periods of time in RRL 1301, as well as in the South East quadrant of RRL 13, where it once it caused clear overheating and apparent burning. The latter was reported to MSKCC Facilities Management and Lab Operations. The following day, it was reported to me by another COF (Certificate of Fitness) holder on RRL that the NYFD (fire department) responded to an alarm in RRL and that RRL 13 employees were warned over the intercom to “prepare to evacuate.”
At one point the Rockefeller Research Laboratory needed to be evacuated following a chemical spill on RRL 14 and perfusion of an irritant (that was initially described as ‘chlorine’ or ‘bromine’ by the circumspect, high caliber Ph.D. chemists on the floor who were wary of and alarmed by the irritant because ‘no one in the lab’ was ‘working with chlorine or bromine’ at the time [at that point in time there was also a concern on the floor relative to cross-contamination between supposedly mutually exclusive fume hoods, of which the ‘chlorine’ was possibly another example of cross-contamination]) on to the 13th floor. MSKCC, in a Memo distributed to all employees via email from the head of Safety (but possibly co-written, edited, approved, ghosted or issued via edict by an administrator, administrators or the Public Affairs office) neither of whom, unlike myself, was (or were) on site when this situation developed, dismissed the event. Sloan would have you believe that gas wafted through two closed doors in the emergency stairwell and through a third (a southern) laboratory door, jumped over open space in the south end of a lab (where it could not be smelled or otherwise sensed) and settled mid room in front of and below multiple, segregated and isolated hoods, ducts and drains. Sloan subsequently dismissed as ‘impossible’ the likelihood that the chlorine-like irritant perfused through the air ducts, drains and fume hoods even though Sloan admitted once again soon after the incident (via posted announcement that duct work controls would be replaced throughout the building) that the duct work in the building did not work properly and that they were well aware of the problem. [Previously, it had been reported to me on more than one occasion (e.g.: from a contractor who worked on the RRL 13 retrofit and an MSKCC Safety Officer) that the ductwork had unbelievably, but assuredly, knowingly not been installed properly by MSKCC. At that point in time although Sloan knew of this situation, MSKCC had not rectified the problem.] Following the evacuation a senior administrator from MSKCC Facilities (its Director) attempted to intimidate me (”warning” me that I “upset a lot of people”) when I challenged the veracity of the MSKCC inaccurate assuagement. [Accurate reportage at that point in time could have drawn unwanted attention to RRL’s HVAC problems and the then known fact that the ductwork was not installed (and/or functioning) properly]. Though others may experience post-intimidation amnesia, I feel that unit integrity also equates with unit safety.
Subsequently, a smoke condition (secondary to a car fire in the RRL basement-garage) developed and rapidly increased in intensity on RRL13. The fire and the resultant smoke condition resulted in the evacuation of RRL. At no point in time did smoke alarms sound on RRL13. In variance with past requests, fire alarms are still not located in laboratories on RRL 13, rooms where the majority of workers on RRL 13 carry out their assigned duties. The fire alarms that are located on the floor are (mostly) inaudible in the laboratory rooms. In deference to MSKCC Lab-Ops and Safety, after this event and in variance with past (previously discussed) safety incidents, Lab-Ops asked for a ‘no holds barred’ report of the incident from our (RRL13 Fire Wardens’) perspective and we have provided such a report to Sloan-Lab-Ops (that may be pooled, weighed and compared with other reports [from local perspectives] of the incident).
The combination of faulty ductwork, improperly sealed and porous floors (that render moot and impeaches the credibility of supposedly functioning HVAC/duct systems), ceilings, and drainage systems is a particularly pernicious cocktail considering silica, radioactive substances, cyanide, pyridines, nitrogen and many other toxins, poisons and carcinogens are used on RRL 13 and that innumerable pathogens, biohazards and other disease facilitating microbes are present in the animal facility below (and/or throughout the RRL building). The material safety data sheets for silica, nitrogen and pyridine reveal but three justifications for concern [e.g.: A few years ago a worker apparently died of asphyxiation due to nitrogen gas exposure (secondary to a liquid nitrogen bleed) in a nearby medical facility that housed an MRI magnet enclosed in a room with limited air circulation, not unlike the NMR magnet (which is cooled via liquid nitrogen in a manner similar to an MRI) in the RRL 13 Core Facility, that is on a floor with known ductwork and air circulation problems]. The MSK Facilities Management Department or those instructing them, operating in conjunction with them, or under its aegis has a history of doing (or overseeing) poor/negligent work, allowing for (and indifference to) exposure of Sloan’s employees to dangerous conditions, of not being on top of the infrastructure of the current RRL (research) building, of conjuring and synchronizing cover stories following safety incidents, of attempting to bully, threaten and/or attempt to intimidate employees so that they do not accurately report safety incidents or problems, of refusing to investigate (and denial when confronted with) these problems in an attempt to cover-up and avoid accurate reporting of environmental-health related problems and shortcomings that MSK-Facilities is responsible for causing) - thereby neglecting, jeopardizing and disregarding Employee (and Community) Safety [e.g.: a NYC Public School is located immediately adjacent to RRL and a private Pre-School has been located in the adjacent building, in the space formerly occupied by the MSKCC Library’s basement]. I have listed but a few examples. Your organization(s) may consider that aspects related to the interface between Sloan/RRL infrastructure and Worker’ and Community Health may warrant investigation, monitoring and/or rectification, if appropriate — especially considering that the Sloan-Facilities-Management Team is currently entrusted with oversight of the construction of an otherwise eminently warranted, imminently necessary and appropriate new research tower, on a nearby residential block (whose construction required a variance in NYC zoning laws following contentious debate within the rightfully concerned and apprehensive, adjacent Community).
Though one might expect Sloan to dismiss the allegations presented in this note as statistically insignificant, coincidental, untrue, or venial (e.g.: by dismissing systemic, chronic EH&S problems as merely an occasionally malfunctioning thermostat), the EH&S concerns are accurate. I know that I am not the only person who has posited reports relative to EH&S and/or air circulation problems on RRL 13 with MSKCC Facilities, Safety or Lab-Ops. I don’t think the Facilities Management team would have the temerity to act as cavalierly as they have relative to EH&S issues without tacit/implicit approval or explicit instructions from (past or present) senior administrators at Sloan [some of whom may have at one point in time been naive to, have been kept in the dark (possibly, so as to be able to seek indemnity or invoke plausible deniability as to culpability, or merely due to deception at the Facilities’ end of the operation) and/or inherited the EH&S problems from (a) prior administration(s)].
Although a catastrophic accident at RRL is feasible, I intuit what is more likely to occur are unnecessary health complications to Sloan-Employees concomitant with long-term chronic exposure to hazards that would not have occurred if the safety problems mentioned in this note were (or are) addressed in a timely manner by Sloan. During my tenure on RRL 13 I have witnessed a situation where MSKCC Facilities, while attempting to cover up these issues is dictating (rather than following sound) safety policy. In variance with the above, I do know that Sloan is capable of sporting a respectable veneer (and of dotting their ‘i’s’ and crossing their ‘t’s’) when inspected re health and safety issues by outside agencies (e.g.: EPA, NYFD).
Based partially on talk amongst employees, it would not surprise me if Sloan is dealing with these and/or other known systemic environmental, health and safety infrastructure shortcomings in RRL via clandestine, unannounced plans to treat the new research tower being constructed as a ‘replacement’ building (for RRL), rather than for its stated purposes of decompression and expansion (and replacement of other (much older) MSKCC laboratories, such as the Kettering Laboratory). If this hypothesis were true, Sloan could purge RRL of all of its researchers and move them into the new building thereby granting Sloan the opportunity to gut RRL, [and some have stated that RRL may be] convert(ed it) into coincidentally lucrative outpatient facilities, while at the same time coincidentally destroying evidence of unnecessary chronic exposure of its unknowing, innocent and naive employees (and by extrapolation the rightfully suspicious and wary, yet naive surrounding Community) to health hazards.
A noxious ‘forever loop’ wherein RRL exhaust is somehow re-circulated through an intake vent (possibly as the result of poor design and/or oversight during the RRL 13 retrofit that neglected to account for pre-existing exhaust and / or intake vents) may be a contributing factor to these problems. Following the ‘chlorine’ incident and building evacuation in 2000, it was reported to me by circumspect colleagues that the MSKCC Facilities Management team considered such a ‘forever loop’ (of [at that point in time] unknown origin) to be a possible contributing factor in that incident, prior to MSKCC-Facilities’ dismissal of a ‘forever-loop’ factor in that incident, and otherwise attempting to sweep what actually did occur under the rug.
I have also been apprised that RRL 13 is not the only floor where workers have experienced severe bronchial problems. It would not surprise me if Sloan (if and when bullying and / or intimidation prove unsuccessful) attempts to purchase the silence of those who experience breathing problems that are positively correlated with RRL HVAC problems, assuaging an individual, but not addressing the problem’s cause or solving the underlying problem(s). As stated elsewhere in this note, I know first hand that Sloan attempts to win through intimidation silence relative to accurate reporting of safety related problems. If a postdoctoral researcher, whose next step (be it academic appointment, big pharma, biotech, law $chool [and subsequent intellectual property work]) is contingent upon a reference letter from their current mentor were to raise these concerns, their career would be jeopardized.
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.
My parents’ first child died of complications from childhood leukemia at Memorial Hospital two years before I was born. A child with this affliction today stands a good chance of survival due in no small part to the therapeutic advances fomented at Sloan and other like-minded Institutions. Sloan’s mission is nonpareil and I realize the need to be circumspect, especially in these post-9/11 ‘trying times’ when the scope of Sloan’s high caliber mission is magnified (and your organizations rightfully need to be focused on external safely threats) — all the more reason that the health and safety of Sloan’s (mostly) selfless employees (and the surrounding Community) not be held hostage by Sloan’s Facilities Management team. No one, myself included, wants any lab downtime. However, Sloan should not be absolved from addressing EH&S matters such as those discussed in this note (which although intermittent are unabated) in a timely manner.
Although I am a ‘Certificate-of-Fitness-Holder’, the Administrative Manager (AM) on RRL 13 has in the past counseled me to not report safety issues (to let another ‘professional’ address Safety matters). Although she is a full-time employee, the AM is regularly on the Sloan campus only ~ 50% time and focuses on patent accruals (and other curious, [oft personal] finance-related matters) and is therefore exposed to any health hazards secondary to any RRL infrastructure and safety shortcomings but a fraction of the time of true full-time employees who are on the SKI campus 100% time (or more). The AM’s ([oft personal] financially guided) focus may constitute a conflict of interest with (and be in variance with) any necessary and / or appropriate rectification of safety problems that may (unfortunately, but possibly, necessarily, temporarily, or partially) interrupt the laboratory’s workflow.
I hope these thoughts are of interest to you and germane to your organization’s purview. I may be reached via the numbers listed below should your organization(s) seek clarification or wish me to elaborate further on these matters. If requested, I can point out exactly where the incidents and / or conditions reported and discussed in this note have (and continue intermittently to) occur(ed). As mentioned above, I feel it appropriate to posit these safety concerns in light of my responsibility to (and also so as to protect myself as well as) past, present and future colleagues and charges, especially considering [for what it’s worth] the collective symbolic and physical investment in this Institution by my family [its blood (my brother’s), sweat (mine) and tears (my parents’)]. In the limit, your organization(s) will have on file an official lodging of these concerns relative to infrastructure shortcomings relative to environmental, health and safety issues at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center/SKI in RRL so that when they recur and resurface Sloan will not be able to duck and/or deny their existence or plead naiveté.
Should you investigate these EH&S issues I do request that my name not be provided to Sloan (that I retain anonymity), so as to protect myself (in light of past attempts by Sloan to threaten / intimidate workers) and thank you, in advance, for considering investigation of these concerns.
In sum, I am not saying that an imminently catastrophic situation exists at Sloan-RRL [although it would not surprise me if one were to occur] or that on any given day that all (or any) of the above-mentioned environmental health and safety related events and/or conditions occur. I am stating that in a building strewn with innumerable toxins, carcinogens, poisons, pathogens, disease facilitating microbes, radioactive substances and biohazards such as RRL (whose windows cannot be opened) that proper ventilation has not been provided, that systemically (and quite often) safety features have not worked properly and / or are rendered moot by other (correctable, yet uncorrected) means of cross contamination, seepage and/or possible re-circulation of chemicals (possibly or supposedly) previously evacuated or exhausted and that notwithstanding requests to rectify these problems, that they continue (albeit intermittently) un-checked to date. Stopgap or patchwork fixes have just not solved the problem(s) which are likely systemic in nature rather than curious anomalies that just happen to appear. The cumulative result is that the RRL building is intermittently and unnecessarily rendered a toxic firetrap and has been and continues to be an unnecessary source of chronic exposure of Sloan’s employees to dangerous substances. A seasonal ritual seems to have developed on RRL 13 wherein an MSKCC-Plant-Ops (Facilities) worker responds to verbal reports of dead air or temperature (heating/cooling) issues, is ’surprised’ to discover the extent of RRL ductwork (-to-nowhere?-) problems and returns to RRL 13 tittering and smirking (and then attempts to humor those reporting the problems) - yet the problems discussed continue albeit intermittently: Water leaks through live light fixtures, animal facility cross contamination [the animal facility has since apparently been moved off campus] chemical smell(s) in hallways and administrative offices that have known ductwork and circulation problems, chemical smell(s) in the hallway / cross-contamination phenomena. Real, serious and chronic systemic infrastructure shortcomings that stand to affect (and are likely affecting) the health and safety of my coworkers and of myself have existed and continue to exist. These may warrant, minimally, investigation (e.g.: re air quality analysis, analysis of MSKCC employee health records relative to breathing problems in RRL, fire safety, architectural record investigation [though given that I’ve witnessed Sloan-Facilities misstating the facts and attempting to strong-arm the suppression of accurate reportage by first responders to past safety incidents, it would not surprise me if the credibility of Sloan’s -architectural records is also impeached]) and possibly outside oversight and / or monitoring, especially given the predicted, severe flu seasons [e.g.: On RRL13, a floor that has known ductwork/air circulation problems, minimally 7 people on RRL13 have recently experienced maladies whose symptoms include severe upper respiratory and/or sinus infections and / or a high fever] and the trust the justifiably concerned surrounding Community places in Sloan via its Facility Management Team’s oversight of the construction of the new research tower.
As stated in the introductory paragraph of this query, I have spoken with the offices of (most of) the proposed recipients of this note prior to its composition and submission (and received counsel as to where to submit the query). If the concerns addressed in this note do not fall under the aegis of your office, but do fall under the aegis of your organization, I’m hopeful that you’ll forward these concerns to the appropriate desk/department. If these concerns do not fall under the aegis of your organization, I apologize in advance for forwarding this to your office. Since these matters continue, intermittently, to date, if you have counsel as to where to legitimately pursue these concerns elsewhere (in a non-inflammatory way, whose end-goal is the investigation and rectification of the Safety problems [i.e. To provide insight towards the correction of these concerns, rather than to incite]) other than to those organizations and/or individuals on the enclosed recipient list, I would also appreciate your input.
I would not submit this note relative to EH&S concerns at RRL/Sloan if these issues had been addressed and solved in a timely and satisfactory manner and not covered up by Sloan-Facilities, and if a high threshold and tolerance level on my part had not been eclipsed many times over by Sloan-Facilities’ shortcomings and attempts at intimidation during my 10+ years, while stationed on RRL 13. My intuition is that if these issues fall under the aegis of your organization(s) and if you investigate these concerns, that you will find extant, systemic safety problems and/or infractions and a trail of attempted deception relative to reporting of safety shortcomings in RRL in the past. I also intuit that those culpable will firstly deny the existence of any safety problems, and that if/and/when confronted with evidence of their existence those culpable will attempt to diminish its intensity, claim naiveté, plead indemnity and eventually claim that they were ‘only following’ instructions. Yet, while Sloan-Facilities was ducking and dodging (and tittering and smirking relative to) Safety shortcomings in RRL in the past, its employees (and its surrounding Community) have unnecessarily been exposed to hazards secondary to them. I have often felt that Sloan expects its workers to do them a favor (or to use a 1960’s term used on the television show ‘the Mod Squad’, to ’solid’ them) by accepting these EH&S problems as merely an occupational hazard, since Sloan through its inaction clearly considers the systemic EH&S issues as no-big-deal (or ‘no-biggie’), resulting in their non-rectification. But while the Sloan-Facilities Team might expect Sloan’s workers to continue ’soliding’ them for what they consider to be ‘no biggies’ the Facilities team continues to titter, smirk and otherwise sweep these problems under the rug. I have problems with that arrangement wherein Sloan’s employees are expected to continue ’soliding’ Sloan, while Sloan is unnecessarily gassing, wafting, neglecting, and otherwise (possibly) poisoning its employees (and by extrapolation, the surrounding Community) especially when my coworkers, my colleague-charges and myself are on the short end of that arrangement, while Sloan’s EH&S neglect and detritus is apt to wind up in my (and our) lungs.
Following a prompt from the MSKCC President to lobby NYC zoning/building officials (as MSKCC employees saw fit) relative to a contentious building initiative, I submitted a letter containing some of the concerns discussed in this note to some of the zoning/building commission members, and community board 8 Manhattan (and at that point in time requested that, that note not be circulated). However, to date, I have not submitted anything in writing to agencies that may have EH&S oversight. In addition, I have edited this note extensively, and have sent iterations via email to and from my personal email account. Accordingly, I would not be surprised if Sloan may have monitored my email account and is privy to the contents of this note and has accordingly updated the synchronization of their EH&S related cover stories.
The admittedly critical tone of this note is proportional to the cumulative indifference, sloppiness, arrogance and attempts to suppress by intimidation legitimate reports of Safety shortcomings at MSKCC in RRL (whose end-goal is the rectification of such problems), with which Sloan and (members and administrators of) its Facilities Management team have conducted themselves relative to EH&S issues in RRL in the past. Accordingly, I submit this note without reservation in the hope that Sloan (and its Facilities team) might account for and rectify these safety concerns and issues. We live in a post-9/11/01 New York, USA, not a pre-12/84 Bhopal, India. It is not inappropriate to expect that problems relative to Environmental Health and Safety (read: the toxic fire trap that RRL [specifically RRL 13] has unnecessarily been in the past and continues to unnecessarily intermittently be), be addressed properly and solved in a timely manner. Though one would not expect Sloan to self-flagellate, one shouldn’t expect Sloan to exercise a double standard as they have (expecting complete candor from those who work in an academic environment, while not being candid relative to EH&S matters themselves). Sloan (via its Facilities Management team and their confederates) has been less than honest and less than forthright relative to such EH&S issues in the past.
I thank you, in advance, for considering the matters discussed in this note.
Sincerely yours,
[C-14 (Chemistry Laboratory) Certificate of Fitness Holder,
SKI/RRL Fire-Warden (RRL-13)]
Sloan-Kettering Institute for Cancer Research