Ganging up on Cancer: Integrative Research Centers at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute (A) Harvard Case Solution & Analysis

Ganging up on Cancer: Integrative Research Centers at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute (A)

Description of the Case

Dana Farber was initially founded and developed as the Children’s Cancer Research Foundation in the year 1947 by Dr. Sidney Farber. The only treatment for cancer was surgical removal of tumors and radiation therapy in the 1940’s. Cancer had already spread among people rapidly and was also considered as a dominant factor for stakeholders to consider.

Vision of Dr. Farber was to establish a system so as to overcome the problem of cancer among patients. This may require implementation of various scientific procedures and may also need services of professional scientists and engineers in their respective fields.  He realized the importance of organized research laboratories and the care of patients. Dana Faber’s vision aimed the organization to include research laboratories and clinics in order to facilitate the organization as well as patients.

Dr. Barrett Rollins, Chief Scientific Officer of Dana Farber Cancer Institute communicated with irritated Diana Cohn for the improvement of the research laboratories and other processes for the best sake of the institute. Diana Cohn also originated that the implementation of new centers will be concentrating more on the brain tumors as well.

Issues Identification/ Diagnosis of the Problem

Chief Scientist Officer (CSO) of Dana Farber Cancer Institute, Dr. Barrett Rollins strives to produce cross sectional collaboration by implementing principles of project management to the medical research. Implementation of Integrative Research Center was a significant driver for the innovation process and also one of the bigest challenges for the institute’s culture. Previously, the institute had given faculty scientist absolute independence over their research. The responsibility of center leaders was to develop an effective business plan based on performance metrics followed by a continuous review and feedback process by oversight committee.

One of the constructive implementation was Nanotechnology. It includes devices based on the molecular scales, which means it is invisible with a slight microscope. These devices can be utilized for specific targeting of cancer cells. In the diagnosis process, nano particles are connected with antibodies, which bind to specific molecular marketers articulated by cancer cells. The objective of the Nanotechnology was to change cancer therapy by facilitating the premature discovery using nano particles and imaging of molecules as well as by implementing new treatments and procedures with tumor targeting technology. Nanotechnology in cancer was a fresh but very vital center in the program. Unfortunately, it failed to produce favorable results for the institute and was unable to meet all the objectives and goals in the first year. In addition, a controversial dispute among the two faculty members in the institute had intricated the matters extensively. Dr. Barrett Rollins was very bothered as a result of these incidents because he believed that he had ample resources and a clear vision and objectives to achieve the goals for the best possible interest of the research center. He has to diagnose the major causes for the center’s inefficiency and inadequacy in order to build up a business plan to overcome the center’s problems. He did not want to miss the opportunity for managing a scientific collaboration at a huge scale that might come from these problems.

At Children’s Hospital, patient care was provided to the patients but due to an increase in the number of adult patients, doctors faced a big problem of how to manage the adult patients in the hospital at the Dana Farber Cancer Institute.


  • Funding and Grants
  • Faculty Accountability
  • Public Dissatisfaction
  • Mistrust of Integrated System

Funding and Grants

Lack of funding and grants allocation was one of major and biggest threat for            Dana Farber Cancer Institute in order to ensure the best quality standards for patients. The institute aimed to facilitate the doctors by implementing advanced research laboratories. Laboratories needed to establish in an organized manner but because of the lack of funding and grants institution was unable to properly facilitate their faculty as well as patients. Charlie Woods was expecting a lot from the conference of oversight committee meeting. One of his big aims in the business plan was to achieve the commercial grant from the Apptech of $15 million. Woods also ignored the discussion of the NCI grant because he thought that it might create a negative impact.

After the session, the conference room was quiet and a bit confuse. The Chairperson, Robert Maher started the discussion and said that, “Charlie I am impressed with your ability to secure the money for fund raising”, but what about your performance in the last year? What about the performance of the staff to perform center operations efficiently? Who was the administration and what was the manager doing to manage the staff and business operations? The board also questioned whether the purpose of the center was to facilitate the center leaders themselves, or to motivate the faculty within the institute.....................

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Dr. Barrett Rollins, chief researcher at the Dana Farber Cancer Institute, an attempt to produce a cross-scientist collaboration by applying the principles of project management to medical research. As a result, innovation, integrative research centers that are new to the area and pose a significant challenge to the culture of the Institute, who had allowed the faculty scientists complete autonomy in their research. Center leaders must develop a business plan, stick to agreed performance indicators, and have regular reviews of progress conducted peer-led oversight committee. Center for Nanotechnology in Cancer, is new, but the most important centers in the program failed to meet almost all of their goals in the first year. In addition, a heated argument between two teachers at the center of complicated matters considerably. Rollins is embarrassed by these problems, because he thought that provided resources and clear objectives for all centers. He should immediately diagnose basic reason (s) for the shortcomings of the center and develop a plan of action so that the problems of the center does not undermine the initiative in the direction of greater scientific cooperation. "Hide
by Heidi K. Gardner, Edo Bedzra, Sheriff M. Elnahal Source: Harvard Business School 15 pages. Publication Date: September 1, 2011. Prod. #: 412029-PDF-ENG

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Ganging up on Cancer: Integrative Research Centers at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute (A)

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