Hill + Knowlton has resigned PR duties for the troubled Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas, after winning the business in April in a competitive pitch.

Last December, Austin-based CPRIT issued an RFP for its $375K account through the base year to August 2013, with three, $250K per-year options.

That came after the four-year-old institution cancelled an earlier PR search in 2011 due to budget constraints.

H+K/Austin senior advisor Mark McKinnon said "ongoing issues and challenges that have confronted the organization over recent months have greatly exceeded the scope of work outlined by the initial contract," in a letter to the Institute (PDF).

The Dallas Morning News reported that the Institute's executive director resigned on Dec. 10. That exit followed the departures of its chief scientific officer and chief business officer, as well as a criminal probe of an $11M award to a Dallas biotechnology company. The News also previously reported that $13 million in Institute funds went to companies run by Dallas businessman David Shanahan after he and several associates contributed $90K to the campaigns of Gov. Rick Perry and Lt. Gov David Dewhurst.

The Institute was created via statewide referendum with a goal of investing up to $3B over the next 10 years for cancer research programs in the Lone Star State to foster a cancer research industry.

H+Kís Austin office handled the account with support from the WPP unitís healthcare team.