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Retraction Watch

Tracking retractions as a window into the scientific process

Anil Potti resurfaces with job at North Dakota cancer center

with 42 comments

Anil Potti, the former Duke cancer researcher who has now retracted or corrected 18 papers amidst investigations into his work, is now working at a Grand Forks, North Dakota, cancer center.

The Grand Forks Herald reports that Potti has worked at the Cancer Center of North Dakota since May. His new boss, William Noyes, told the paper that

…Potti is a victim of unfair accusations and the negative news “is a dead issue.”

Potti resigned from Duke in late 2010, and joined the Coastal Cancer Center in South Carolina sometime last year. He left that post in February following a “60 Minutes” episode focused on questions about his work at Duke involving hundreds of patients in clinical trials. Although there had been scientific questions about Potti’s work for a few years, the story really began to unravel when The Cancer Letter reported that he had lied about having a Rhodes Scholarship on a grant application.

The oncologist has medical licenses in various states, two of which — Missouri and North Carolina — have reprimanded him. He has settled at least 11 cases of malpractice for$75,000 or more, as we reported in December.

Potti completed part of his training in North Dakota, which gave him a license to practice medicine on July 27, after he had been working on a provisional license since May, according to the Grand Forks Herald.

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Written by Ivan Oransky

August 20, 2012 at 12:14 pm

42 Responses

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  1. I can’t imagine seeking treatment from any institution that would hire this guy. What were they thinking?

    I hope this fact is publicized, and publicized well. Patients have a right to know.

    failuretoreplicant

    August 20, 2012 at 12:21 pm

  2. I have lots of respect for Retraction Watch blog, but this piece sounds and looks more like a “witch hunt” against Potti.
    Dr. Potti has the every right to earn a livelihood (for him and his family), leaving his tainted past behind. I personally think he has got his punishment. Let him live….

    climatechange

    August 20, 2012 at 12:41 pm

    • If he wants to earn a livelihood he could always be a barista at Starbucks. That’s about as much I’d trust the guy with given his past.

      failuretoreplicant

      August 20, 2012 at 12:59 pm

      • Great thinking… Join the media lynch mob justice !!

        climatechange

        August 20, 2012 at 1:16 pm

    • absolutely agree with you

      anonymous

      August 20, 2012 at 10:27 pm

    • If you were diagnosed with cancer tomorrow, would you choose Anil Potti, M.D. as your radiation oncologist?

      Dr Gene Nelson

      August 20, 2012 at 11:29 pm

      • Yo!!! Dr. Nelson…Dr. Potti is not a Radiation Oncologist so I guess I wouldn’t choose him to be mine in the event I was diagnosed w/cancer…but…..As a former employee of Dr. Potti’s I would absolutely choose him to be my Oncologist.

        thisisme

        September 12, 2012 at 11:07 am

    • A most interesting interpretation of “right”, climatechange. Do bank robbers and hitmen have the right to earn a livelihood pursuing the same activities for which they were arrested? And if they claim to be leaving their tainted past behind them, do you really buy that load of bullshit? Lots of conmen get right back to their old tricks as soon as they get out of jail.

      This country is supposed to have oversight boards for important professions to prevent serious harm to the public. When the potential harm is serious, we don’t let people have chance after chance just because they say they have turned over a new leaf.

      Those who are concerned about Potti’s family might consider chipping in to support them, instead of exposing the innocent people of North Dakota to a fraudster on the grounds that even fraudsters need to make a living. I agree with failuretoreplicant. Let Potti get a job in some other line of work. One where he will do less damage.

      JudyH

      August 21, 2012 at 1:08 am

      • If Potti fabricated data on federal grants and then made false statements on progress reports and paper, he should be in federal prison. End of story.

        Jon Beckmann

        August 21, 2012 at 7:01 am

    • yes it is time to think fairly on this almost closed issue….

      santosh

      October 19, 2012 at 1:42 am

      • It is hardly a “closed issue.” There are still active malpractice lawsuits in conjunction with Potti’s Duke University conduct as a clinician. I believe that there will be more developments in this story. I’m glad that Baggerly and Coombes alerted the scientific community. A good overview dated 10 September 2011 appears in The Economist, titled “Misconduct in science – An array of errors.”

        drgenenelson

        October 19, 2012 at 10:00 pm

    • “After leaving Duke, Potti hired Online Reputation Manager, a reputation management company, to improve search results for his name…” hmm, seems that works!

      Hey there, no matter who you are, Potti should leave the medicine field. Period. He can make a living in some other places.

      Internet users, please keep tracking him, until he no longer appears in the medicine.

      Dr. Meyer

      February 7, 2014 at 8:52 am

    • Who were the references as was stated in the news article above?

      Ressci Integrity

      August 20, 2012 at 11:53 pm

      • I can only guess the references are local to ND. It is hard to determine from the wording of the article. Potti had prior clinical work history in ND.

        JimR

        August 21, 2012 at 7:43 pm

  3. Media lynch mob? Bull$h!t. Potti fabricated data… not just once, but many times to the tune of a lot of grant funds that were effectively pissed away. Moreover, he’s completely confused the field because now people are comfortable with thinking that what is not possible is indeed possible… and it’s not.

    He’s lucky people still talk to him, much less that he’s still licensed to practice medicine.

    For me, his employment in North Dakota discredits that institution. Noyes’ vigorous and adamant defense discredits himself personally, in my eyes.

    Hater_Jonny

    August 20, 2012 at 1:28 pm

    • Not to mention patients may have unnecessarily suffered through chemotherapy during their end days based on his program.

      moto

      August 23, 2012 at 3:27 pm

  4. …I also have to wonder why anybody would be sympathetic to such a fraud. What motive is there in his defense?

    Hater_Jonny

    August 20, 2012 at 1:30 pm

    • Not defending (or sympathizing) him by any means for his misconduct. But this ” Paparazzi” like chasing his life by media goes too far.., especially when he has been already tried (by authorized officials and the omnipresent Media) and punished suitably. Principle of Natural Justice requires that you don’t punish for the same offence again and again… That’s my take on this issue.. I understand several people may have different opinion.

      climatechange

      August 20, 2012 at 1:52 pm

    • Anil Potti has multiple online aliases. So be suspicious of anyone who defends him. :)

      Anyway, the media had nothing to do with the many (18 so far!) embarrassing retractions.

      And continuing to practice in the field after being exposed as a liar and fraudster is not punishment and far from justice.

      failuretoreplicant

      August 20, 2012 at 2:05 pm

      • Yea right. Arguing about principles of natural justice and cautioning against behaving like paparazzi is something that Anil Potti’s alias would be doing.

        Prashanth

        August 20, 2012 at 2:27 pm

        • Are you kidding? So you’re defending a guy who built his career on LIES, and you think he should be allowed to continue to pursue that fraudulent career? That speaks more about your judgement than it does about him.

          No sympathy whatsoever.

          Hater_Jonny

          August 20, 2012 at 2:40 pm

          • Amazing, how one line of sarcasm cautioning against the “manner” of criticism can be conflated into defense of somebody who is clearly in the docks for all the right reasons. Perhaps, it was something that I did not say that bothered you?

            Prashanth

            August 20, 2012 at 2:43 pm

  5. As a physician who has practiced in North Dakota (many years ago) I can tell you from personal experience that the ND Medical Board is about as weak a board as any in the US; they’ll take the “derogatory information” under advisement, but they won’t do anything (they are first, afraid of being sued if they take action, and second, concerned because there’s such a severe doctor shortage in ND). The allegation that he has paid eleven malpractice judgements of over $ 75,000 really speaks volumes for his abilities as a doctor, or at least his ability to maintain any kind of rapport with patients. (Malpractice suits are usually filed because the patient is angry at the doctor, not specifically because of injuries… many cases of injury never are filed as malpractice because the patient feels the doctor wasn’t such a bad guy even though things turned out poorly.)
    I’m sorry to have to say that, on the basis of prima facie evidence presented here and elsewhere, Dr Potti is in all probability not competent to practice medicine, much less write scholarly articles. The fact that he has bounced from one state to the next is a symptom of the way the practice of medicine is regulated in the US, on a state by state basis. This is a good argument for federal rather than state medical licensing, but this will never happen due to the entrenchment of state boards.
    It’s terrible that this “witch hunt” is going on, but in this case it’s all his fault.

    Conrad T Seitz MD

    August 20, 2012 at 5:14 pm

  6. Meanwhile, in Brazil, not only all authors figuring in this blog are very well tenured and going, yet Dr Leonardo Gomes, who has had at least 3 retractions, including a whole book retraction by Springer, and apparently has several other papers under investigations, has been recently promoted to principal of his university campus. It gets even the more remarkable if one considers he never got punished, and that he just became professor in that campus about a year ago = still in probation period. If such researchers in Brazil are not being rewarded for fraud, I do not know what is happening. Lucky them no-one cares about Brazilian science, what to say of zoology / basic chemistry research.

    Hibby

    August 20, 2012 at 7:05 pm

  7. I don’t get the point here. Where Anil Potti works, what that has to do with the retraction watch. I think this site is turning like a witchhunt and biased to me. Hopefully they will get the message that prime purpose is find out the scientific miscounduct and report unbiased findings.

    rpareksh

    August 20, 2012 at 11:21 pm

    • wow…why do you think this is directed you? Are you Dr Potti? you have written that “I think this site turning like a witchhung and biased to me.” Not necessarily biased to you..

      Ressci Integrity

      August 21, 2012 at 8:37 pm

    • Hm. You don’t get the point? Part of the mission of Retraction Watch is to follow up on what happens to a scientist after a retraction. Are there serious consequences for fraud, or do the ripples in the pond disappear quickly? Do scientists ever go to jail for research fraud? Are there consequences for retractions that are undertaken for other reasons? Does a retraction have an effect on future grants, on future employment, on future research directions, on future ability to attract graduate students?

      Following up on Anil Potti’s life post-retraction(s) is not a witch hunt. Much as Potti deserves to be banned forever from all medical employment, that’s not what RW is trying to do. RW is trying to document what does in fact happen, whether Potti is effectively blacklisted by all science-related and medical-related employers or whether he is able to pursue some sort of career in the fields which he has besmirched by his unethical conduct.

      JudyH

      August 21, 2012 at 9:15 pm

  8. I wonder what Hippocrates would say about such a fellow physician.

    In some countries, graduating doctors have to take The Hippocratic Oath. Then, breaking The Oath means you no longer belong to that cast and are not a trusted member of the society.

    Physicians, who deal with people’s health and lives every day, are not just one of the occupations for earning bread. It is right that special requirements for professional standards and personal integrity must apply to them.

    (This is not to say that for a non-clinician researcher to present and publish fraudulent data is OK.)

    A Physician

    August 21, 2012 at 6:11 am

    • Hippocrates might say that Anil Potti has violated the injunction that a physician should do good or do no harm. Some of the old precepts are less in favor these days, like not giving a woman something to induce an abortion and not giving deadly medicine if asked to do so. But other advice is just as relevant today as it used to be. The physician should be doing what he and the patient agree is in the patient’s best interest. The physician may be wrong, and indeed medicine has had its decades of incorrect practice, but this should be through honest error or honest ignorance, not because of schemes that are intended to benefit the physician without regard to the well-being of the patient.

      JudyH

      August 21, 2012 at 9:29 pm

  9. Me again. First, it is a shame but it is true, as Hibby says, no-one cares about Brazilian science. Second, to Dr Gene Nelson, I’m shocked, shocked that anyone has actually read “The Short Happy Life of Dr Harjeet S.” Third, to rpareksh, there is something to your point of view that this whole business has nothing to do with RW’s purpose…on the other hand, fraud in retracted journal articles is not all that irrelevant to lax state Medical Boards that allow physicians who have had multiple retracted journal articles due to fraud to take a license to practice clinical medicine, which, as A Physician says, has something to do with the Hippocratic Oath. Correct me if I’m wrong, but isn’t there something in the Oath about not tolerating other physicians who are quacks? Besides, in some states it is a law that physicians have to report their colleagues to the Medical Board if they think they’re unfit for any reason.
    However, by some quirk (not intended on my part) I was never tasked with taking the Hippocratic Oath specifically, so I merely incorporate it into my ethical framework by reference. I’ve reported one or two physicians and I’ve usually been punished for it in one way or another. So my tolerance for infractions has become high due to awareness of the negative repercussions.
    I just can’t get over the fact that no-one cares about Brazilian science…maybe it’s the science that they do, it is intrinsically boring, they need to change fields of inquiry. Or maybe it is just that no-one expects good science to come from a “small” country like Brasil.

    Conrad T Seitz MD

    August 21, 2012 at 12:36 pm

    • I have read it. Very enjoyable, Dr. Seitz.

      JudyH

      August 21, 2012 at 9:04 pm

    • I think both reaon for Brazilian science being so unpopular are right, ma friend. It is both usually boring and nt expected to be good. Why, it is rarely good. I however donot think field of enquiry should change, actually I think Brzilians have to learn how to do goood science in whatever field they like. And rewading fraudsters with impunity and politicals edges is not exactly a good philosophy for a start. I am leaving this place.

      Hibby

      August 21, 2012 at 11:54 pm

  10. That reminds me. Retractions, even for fraud, have no direct bearing on a person’s ability to practice medicine, especially if they’re Board certified and all that. This is what makes all this stuff off topic. On the other hand, this Anil Potti has settled all these malpractice suits, and I don’t think they were nuisance suits. Somebody oughta just test his clinical competence. Oh, wait, there is no accepted method of determining clinical competence. Never mind.

    Conrad T Seitz MD

    August 21, 2012 at 12:40 pm

    • Dr. Seitz, I think you’ve hit the nail on the head with this comment. It isn’t just that Potti committed fraud in his research – it is that the fraud was used to ‘inform’ clinical trials, and people were hurt. When 60 minutes aired their piece on Potti, it was obvious that several families blame him for their now deceased family member’s suffering. They acknowledged that their family member had terminal cancer, but that they could’ve gotten into a legitimate clinical trial instead of wasting precious months on Potti’s. *This* is why this case is important, why RW should pay attention to it, and why Dr. Potti should find a different occupation.

      Noah

      August 21, 2012 at 2:38 pm

    • As the reports regarding Anil Potti from NBC17.com and DukeWatch.com make very clear, there is still a major medical malpractice lawsuit regarding Anil Potti’s clinical trials at Duke University making its way through the North Carolina justice system, so Potti may still have to face adverse consequences, including sanctions from the North Carolina Medical Board. Six families of the deceased are represented by the Henson-Fuerst Law Firm. Search both phrases “Henson-Fuerst” and “Anil Potti” to learn more.

      Dr Gene Nelson

      August 21, 2012 at 2:55 pm

    • There is fraud in medicine just like in science. The details are different, the stakes can be more significant. If you have taken care of patients long enough, you see medical charts that have been “cooked,” where pertinent errors of omission and commission are intentionally obfuscated, where billing is concocted with inadequate documentation, surgery and other procedures performed without clear indications, informed consent for clinical trial provided too hastily or not at all. I wouldn’t trust someone who played so fast and loose with data that ultimately impacted patients’ care with any patient of mine or loved one. I agree with others here who have been deemed too harsh. This guy has no business practicing medicine anywhere. Any entity that supports him by giving him privileges or a license ultimately does so at its peril.

      DefendSmallScience!

      August 21, 2012 at 4:35 pm

  11. Coombes tried to expose the problems, but Duke did a thorough review and declared the research sound. It wasn’t until Coombes found out about his lying about being a Rhodes scholar that they took a closer look and admitted to the issues. So my point is, this kind of issue is extremely hard to expose and had not Potti lied about being a Rhodes scholar, the scientific checks and balances would not have been enough.

    gregory grant

    November 22, 2013 at 3:14 pm


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