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Memorial Sloan Kettering’s Leaders in Glaring Conflict of Interest

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Memorial Sloan Kettering is at the center of some controversy coming after an investigative report showed three of its leaders have a glaring conflict of interest with Paige.AI. The three people include a member of the health system’s executive board, the chairman of its pathology department, and the head of one of its research laboratories. The equity stake they have in Paige.AI is what’s in question, and an additional three board members have investments with Paige.AI, The New York Times and ProPublica report.

Memorial Sloan Kettering offers its 25 million patient tissue slides and pathologist libraries to Paige.AI. This arrangement raises questions over whether such a deal creates an unfair advantage for Paige.AI. which some argue give Paige.AI an advantage over its competitors.

A letter written by President and CEO Craig Thompson and COO Kathryn Martin described why they believed there are “mischaracterizations included in the [New York Times/Propublica] article,” adding that “no patient tissue, patient slides or protected health information has been — or will be — used by, or shared with, Paige. AI.”

Pathologists working for Memorial Sloan Kettering weren’t buying that line of thinking though because of the appearance that it would be unfair to competitors. They were also worried about patient privacy issues.

Charitable foundations, like Memorial Sloan Kettering, need to show that they don’t provide assets to insiders for less than the fair market value.

“It just seems awfully coincidental that the individuals involved happen to be people in control and influence of that asset, and they ended up with an exclusive use of it,” Marcus Owens, a Washington lawyer who ran the IRS division that oversees tax-exempt organizations, said to the New York Times and ProPublica in their joint investigation. “It seems to create a cascading series of conflicts for the operation of Sloan Kettering.”

Memorial Sloan Kettering insists that offers were made to anyone on the outside before insiders could have their chances and that everything else was also done in compliance with all rules and regulations.

“This is an incredibly expensive undertaking — it needs a lot of money,” Dr. Gregory Raskin, the hospital’s vice president of technology development, said. “We feel this is a really valuable and important technology to get developed.”

“It just seems awfully coincidental that the individuals involved happen to be people in control and influence of that asset, and they ended up with an exclusive use of it,” Marcus S. Owens, a Washington lawyer with prior I.R.S. experience said. He specifically dealt with these kinds of entities during his time with the government. “It seems to create a cascading series of conflicts for the operation of Sloan Kettering.”

By: John Floyd

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