Mary Beckerle during former Vice President Joe Biden’s visit to the Huntsman Cancer Institute in February 2016 as part of the cancer moonshot initiative.
Credit: Adam Finkle/Huntsman Cancer Institute

Cell biologist Mary Beckerle has been invited to reassume her position at Hunstsman Cancer Institute, eight days after learning via email that she was no longer the head of the institute based at the University of Utah, ScienceInsider reports.

The move came as a surprise to billionaire industrialist Jon Hunstman, who was in the midst of negotiating an additional donation to the center. Huntsman pledged to reverse his donation, and expressed he wanted Lee fired. Thousands of researchers also signed a petition to bring Beckerle back.

“This past week has been an extraordinary and challenging time for our University and community. Members of our campus community spoke out and made their perspectives known”, Pershing said in a statement, following a vote from the university board of trustees on Wednesday.

Huntsman also released a statement on Wednesday praising the decision to rehire Beckerle, and calling Pershing “a man of integrity who recognized his mistake.” A new $120 million pledge from the Huntsman family and foundation, along with $130 million in previous commitments for a recently completed research wing, “will be honored in every respect,” Huntsman said.

“I think the affirmation that some autonomy in the cancer center can nurture excellence is wonderful,” Bruce Edgar, a researcher at the institute, tells ScienceInsider. “We think this bodes well for university-cancer center relations in general.”

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