Memorial Sloan Kettering shifts fundraising focus as problems mount

Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York City has abruptly shifted the focus of its annual fundraising campaign away from research and artificial intelligence in an effort to contain the fallout from mounting problems that already have led to the resignation of its CMO and a re-examination of its policies, according to The New York Times.

The cancer center's fundraising campaign was initially titled "Harnessing Big Data." The campaign intended to focus on raising money to advance research into the use of AI to treat cancer.

However, one of Memorial Sloan's top researchers and a partnership with an AI startup have come under fire recently.

José Baselga, MD, PhD, medical oncologist, physician-in-chief and CMO of Memorial Sloan, resigned this month after reports surfaced that he failed to disclose significant financial ties to the drug industry and other healthcare companies in more than 100 research articles.

In addition, the cancer center's partnership with Paige.AI was founded by three insiders at Memorial Sloan, which subsequently granted the company an exclusive deal, presenting a possible conflict of interest. Reports of the possible conflict of interest emerged Sept. 20.

As a result of the mounting problems, Kenneth Manotti, the cancer center's senior vice president and chief development officer, emailed  board members and the hospital's volunteer fundraising arm, that its fund-raising effort with AI would be postponed "under the current circumstances, as we navigate through the issues at hand," according to the NYT.

The fundraising arm, Society of MSK, now will shift its campaign focus to patient care.

The annual campaign typically raises $800,000 to $1 million, a Memorial Sloan spokesperson told the NYT.

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