A liver physiologist at the University of Connecticut with millions of dollars in Federal U.S. funding included false data in half a dozen grant applications, according to the U.S. Office of Research Integrity.
cooperated fully with UConn and ORI, has expressed remorse for her actions, and took full responsibility for her reckless behavior.
“None of the applications received funding, and three were withdrawn before review,” the ORI writes in its report.
Wang agreed to have her research supervised for a year, and to not serve on any peer review committees at the National Institutes of Health for the same period of time.
‘An expert at procuring grant funding’
Wang, according to a 2015 university press release, overcame significant barriers in China to pursue an education as the Cultural Revolution was “losing its anti-intellectual grip.” With $5 million in funding at the time of the 2015 release, she “has a reputation as an expert at procuring grant funding,” the release notes.
She’s earned 27 grants in total, including five current National Institutes of Health grants and the Veterans Administration Merit Award. She also enjoys helping other faculty in the Department of Physiology and Neurobiology with their grant applications. Since national funding for science research continues to see cuts, Wang says she’s worked hard to perfect her grant writing skills.
“It’s very difficult to get funding,” she says. “Many investigators are struggling. So I had to keep learning, to think of new techniques and ideas that would target important fields.”
Wang did not respond to a request for comment. She is still employed at UConn, according to a university spokesperson, and no other research is affected.
She does not appear to have ever retracted any papers. She is a middle author on a paper that had a figure corrected earlier this year.
UConn declined to release the report of the investigation into Wang’s work — something we have urged universities to do. We asked why the case was different from that of the late Dipak Das, who was found to have misconduct in 2012, culminating in the release by the university of a voluminous report. The spokesperson wrote by email:
The incident involving Dr. Das in 2012 involved false information that was included in published studies, in what appeared to be a pattern of dishonesty. He disputed the findings of the review, which prompted the need for the longer report that the University undertook and later released.
In this case, Dr. Wang and university shared a commitment to having the erroneous information clarified. Also, the data in question were never part of published research or produced as part of a funded grant.
The word “reckless” or “recklessly” appears twice in the ORI findings about Wang. It came up recently in the case of Christian Kreipke, readers may recall. There, according to our commentator, attorney Richard Goldstein, a judge said that
including false or fabricated data without validating its accuracy is reckless if one “used materials without exercising proper care or caution and disregarded or was indifferent to the risk that the material were false, fabricated, or plagiarized.”
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