Friday, 21 September 2018

Sloan Kettering’s Cozy Deal With Start

Sloan Kettering
Sloan Kettering’s Cozy affect Start-Up Ignites a replacement  Uproa Series: Sloan Kettering’s Crisis

An artificial intelligence start-up founded by three insiders at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center debuted with great fanfare in February, with $25 million in risk capital and the promise that it'd at some point transform how cancer is diagnosed.

The company, Paige.AI, is one during a burgeoning field of start-ups that are applying artificial intelligence to health care, yet it's a plus over many competitors: the corporate has an exclusive deal to use the cancer center’s vast archive of 25 million patient tissue slides, alongside decades of labor by its world-renowned pathologists.

Memorial Sloan Kettering holds an equity stake in Paige.AI, as does a member of the cancer center’s executive board, the chairman of its pathology department, and therefore the head of one of its research laboratories.

Three other board members are investors.

The arrangement has sparked considerable turmoil among doctors and scientists at Memorial Sloan Kettering, which has intensified within the wake of an investigation by ProPublica and therefore the NY Times into the failures of its chief medic, Dr. José Baselga, to disclose a number of his financial ties to industry in dozens of research articles.

He resigned last week, and Memorial Sloan Kettering’s chief executive, Dr. Craig B. Thompson, announced a replacement task force on Monday to review the center’s conflict-of-interest policies.

At a staff meeting Thursday morning, Thompson et al. , including Dr. Lisa DeAngelis, the acting physician-in-chief who replaced Baselga described the recent events as a disruption and acknowledged that the hospital was under a microscope,

according to several people who attended. Doctors said they were concerned about a lack of communication from hospital leadership and one said patients were nervous that their health data was being commercialized by the institution.

Hospital pathologists have strongly objected to the Paige.AI deal, saying it's unfair that the founders received equity stakes during a company that relies on the pathologists’ expertise and work amassed over 60 years.

They also questioned the use of patients’ data — albeit it's anonymous — without their knowledge during a profit-driven venture.

In addition, experts in nonprofit law and company governance have questioned whether Memorial Sloan Kettering, one among the nation’s leading cancer centers, complied with federal and state law governing nonprofits when it found out the deal.

The experts pointed out that charitable institutions like Memorial Sloan Kettering must show that they didn’t provide assets to insiders for fewer than the fair market price.

Cancer center officials said that they acted properly in approving the effect, Paige.

AI and that if successful, the venture could change the longer term of a cancer diagnosis.

“This is an incredibly expensive undertaking — it needs tons of cash,” Dr. Gregory Raskin, the hospital’s vice-chairman of technology development said in an interview.

“We feel this is a really valuable and important technology to urge developed.”

Officials said that some board members invested only after early efforts to get interested from outside companies and investors had failed.

But they acknowledged that they didn't seek an independent valuation of the tissue archive, nor did they put the proposal out for competitive bidding before licensing it to one company.

In exchange for sharing its voluminous database, Memorial Sloan Kettering received ownership shares amounting to about nine percent within the company.

“It just seems awfully coincidental that the individuals involved happen to be people in control and influence of that asset, and that they ended up with exclusive use of it” said Marcus S.

Owens, a Washington lawyer who ran the interior Revenue Service division that oversees tax-exempt organizations.

“It seems to make a cascading series of conflicts for the operation of Sloan Kettering.”

The decision to license images of the patients’ tissue slides to a for-profit company also highlights the broader debate over the utilization of private medical data, starting from genetic information to, during this case, images of a person’s cells, for research and commercial purposes.

After ProPublica and therefore the Times began asking questions on the arrangement, one of the founders — Dr. David Klimstra, the chairman of the pathology department — said he would divest his ownership stake.

Klimstra and another co-founder, Thomas Fuchs, the top of the computational pathology laboratory pursued the thought for Paige.

AI in 2015, hospital officials said.

Fuchs had previously worked for NASA developing algorithms that might teach the Mars rovers to navigate terrain, and has said a number of equivalent algorithms can differentiate cancerously tumors from benign ones.

In a statement, he called the AI start-up the culmination of his “life’s work.”

Universities and teaching hospitals have long sought to show their scientific discoveries into lucrative business deals. Indeed, 10 cancer drugs approved by the Food and Drug Administration originated at Memorial Sloan Kettering.

But the Paige.AI arrangement is different because what’s being commercialized isn't an invention, per se, but rather access to raw materials — notes and slides — gathered over decades.

Paige.AI is among a growing number of companies, including Google and Microsoft, that are exploring ways to use AI to enhance health care.

Pathology has been attention because it remains a time-consuming, error-prone and sometimes subjective process, where doctors examine tissue slides to make a decision about whether cancer is present, and which type.

Other start-ups within the field include PathAI, based in Boston, and Spinelli, which is functioning in partnership with the University of Pittsburgh.

The Paige.AI project finally took off after enlisting the assistance of Norman Selby, a member of the hospital board’s executive committee and a longtime health care consultant, manager, and investor.

He is listed as a founder and executive chairman of Paige.

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