Case | HBS Case Collection | September 2011 (Revised October 2012)

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

by Heidi K. Gardner, Edo Bedzra and Shereef M. Elnahal

Abstract

Dr. Barrett Rollins, Chief Scientific Officer of the Dana Farber Cancer Institute, attempts to engender cross-scientist collaboration by applying project management principles to medical research. The resulting innovation, Integrative Research Centers, are novel in this field and present a substantial challenge to the Institute's culture, which had previously allowed faculty scientists complete autonomy over their research. Center leaders are required to develop a business plan, adhere to agreed-upon performance metrics, and undergo regular progress reviews conducted by a peer-led oversight committee. The Center for Nanotechnology in Cancer, a new but crucial center in the program, has failed to meet almost all of its objectives in the first year. Furthermore, a heated dispute between two faculty members in the center has complicated matters significantly. Rollins is flummoxed by these problems because he thought he had provided resources and clear objectives to all of the centers. He must urgently diagnose the main reason(s) for the center's shortcomings and develop a plan of action so that this center's problems do not undermine the whole initiative toward greater scientific collaboration.

Keywords: Problems and Challenges; Organizational Change and Adaptation; Change Management; Motivation and Incentives; Employees; Performance Evaluation; Leadership Style; Leadership; Collaborative Innovation and Invention; Innovation and Management;

Citation:

Gardner, Heidi K., Edo Bedzra, and Shereef M. Elnahal. "Ganging Up on Cancer: Integrative Research Centers at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute (A)." Harvard Business School Case 412-029, September 2011. (Revised October 2012.)