More troubles at Duke: NIH suspended grants because of concerns over patient safety

Duke University

Last year, amid concerns for patient safety, the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH) suspended seven grants to Duke University following “allegations of research misconduct…and…potential issues concerning clinical research irregularities,” we now know thanks to a letter from NIH to Duke.

Continue reading More troubles at Duke: NIH suspended grants because of concerns over patient safety

Joseph Thomas just earned $33.8 million in a $112.5 million settlement with Duke. Here’s his story.

Joseph Thomas

Tomorrow is Joe Thomas’s 35th birthday. And earlier this week, he received quite a birthday present, even if it wasn’t intended that way: Thomas earned a $33.75 million payout from a lawsuit he filed against Duke University six years ago.

As Retraction Watch readers may recall, Thomas was the whistleblower in a case alleging scientific misconduct that Duke settled yesterday for $112.5 million. Our Ivan Oransky has an exclusive profile of him — including how he “celebrated” the settlement — at Medscape. Continue reading Joseph Thomas just earned $33.8 million in a $112.5 million settlement with Duke. Here’s his story.

Duke settles case alleging data doctoring for $112.5 million

Retraction Watch readers may recall the name Erin Potts-Kant. We’ve been reporting on retractions by Potts-Kant, a former lab tech at Duke, since 2013. (The count is now 17.) Along the way, we learned that she had been convicted of embezzlement, but that there was a bigger story: There was a False Claims Act case against Duke, Potts-Kant, and Michael Foster, in whose lab she worked, alleging that the university had known that faked data had been included in grant applications.

The case has now settled, for what Duke acknowledges is a “substantial” sum of $112.5 million. That means the whistleblower, another former lab tech, will earn more than $30 million. For details, head over to Ivan’s story on Medscape. Continue reading Duke settles case alleging data doctoring for $112.5 million

Caught Our Notice: Retraction eight as errors in Wansink paper are “too voluminous” for a correction

Title: Shifts in the Enjoyment of Healthy and Unhealthy Behaviors Affect Short- and Long-Term Postbariatric Weight Loss

What Caught Our Attention: Cornell food marketing researcher Brian Wansink, the one-time media darling who has been dogged by mounting criticism of his findings, has lost another paper to retraction. As we’ve noted in the past, corrections for Wansink’s work tend to be long. This time, “the number of errors is too voluminous to be executed by issuing a correction statement,” according to the retraction notice for a paper about behaviors following weight loss surgery. Continue reading Caught Our Notice: Retraction eight as errors in Wansink paper are “too voluminous” for a correction

Duke admits faked data “potentially affected” grant applications

Duke University

A former researcher at Duke University has admitted to faking data that allegedly were used to secure hundreds of millions of dollars in federal grants.

Duke has also admitted that it knew Erin Potts-Kant, a pulmonary scientist, faked data, but it’s unclear whether that was discovered prior to using those data to apply for grants, as a lawsuit alleges.

The admissions come from court documents submitted by Potts-Kant, her supervisor — former Duke researcher William Michael Foster — and Duke itself, responding to allegations in a whistleblower suit that says they defrauded the government.

Regular readers may recall that Joseph Thomas, a former colleague of Potts-Kant and Foster, has filed a False Claims Act suit against the three defendants on behalf of the U.S. government. The responses, submitted separately by the three defendants, are the latest development in what could be a landmark case for research misconduct. The lawsuit has survived motions to dismiss and is moving through the discovery process, which is likely to reveal more than the defendants have already said.

The suit claims that Potts-Kant “knew that the reported research results in question were false and/or fabricated, having generated the results herself.” To which she responded (in writing): Continue reading Duke admits faked data “potentially affected” grant applications

$200M research misconduct case against Duke moving forward, as judge denies motion to dismiss

A Federal U.S. court in North Carolina has denied a motion to dismiss a major lawsuit filed against Duke University and two former employees, allowing the case to go forward.

Last year, the U.S. District Court of the Western District of Virginia unsealed a whistleblower lawsuit filed by another former employee at Duke against the university, a biologist and her former supervisor, alleging they included fraudulent data in applications and reports involving more than 60 grants. The total amount: $200 million. If successful, Duke may have to refund three times the amount of allegedly ill-gotten gains, and the whistleblower could himself receive millions.

The researcher, Erin Potts-Kant, her supervisor William Michael Foster, and Duke all filed motions to dismiss; this week, that motion was denied.

Continue reading $200M research misconduct case against Duke moving forward, as judge denies motion to dismiss

Retraction no. 8 (and a 1/2) hits former Duke researcher Erin Potts-Kant

American Journal of Physiology - Lung Cellular and Molecular PhysiologyAnother retraction and a correction that retracts two figures — ie, a partial retraction — have been posted for Duke University lung researchers, Erin Potts-Kant and Michael Foster.

These latest notices move the count up to 8.5 retractions for Potts-Kant and 7.5 for Foster (counting the partial retraction as 1/2), along with the correction for both. In both cases and in a familiar note from previous retractions, authors found “potential discrepancies” between two sets of data (partial retraction) and study figures that weren’t “reliable” (retraction).

The retraction comes after the authors discovered problems with three of the study figures. In the corrected paper, the authors were able to validate some of their findings after repeating the experiments, but retracted two of the study figures that they were “unable to verify.”

Continue reading Retraction no. 8 (and a 1/2) hits former Duke researcher Erin Potts-Kant

Duke lung researcher up to seven retractions

Enviromental Health Perspectives

More journals have pulled papers co-authored by researchers Erin Potts-Kant and Michael Foster, at Duke University, bringing the total up to seven for Potts-Kant and six for Foster.

Authors were unable to replicate the experiments after “concerns about the initial data from the animal physiology laboratory” led them to reanalyze source data, according to the note in Environmental Health Perspectives. The comparison showed “potential inconsistencies in the data,” which “significantly impact the overall conclusions of the manuscript.” Similar issues appear to have felled the pair’s other papers, including the other two recent retractions in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine and the American Journal of Physiology – Lung Cellular and Molecular Physiology — but in the latter case, the discrepancies don’t affect the conclusion.

Potts-Kant was arrested on embezzlement charges in 2013. Authorities alleged that she stole almost $15,000 from Duke University.

Environmental Health Perspectives posted a retraction in July, for a 2012 paper that looked at the molecular underpinnings in airways that react to ozone.

Here’s the full notice:

Continue reading Duke lung researcher up to seven retractions

Mystery box sinks immunology paper

Screen Shot 2014-06-30 at 12.30.32 PMBiochemical Journal has pulled a 2006 paper for an undisclosed “background subtraction box” in an image – which, if you take a not-particularly-close look at the figure to the right, means somebody added a black rectangle over the control lane.

Here’s the notice: for “Phosphorylation of Ser158 regulates inflammatory redox-dependent hepatocyte nuclear factor-4a transcriptional activity”: Continue reading Mystery box sinks immunology paper

RIP, Ed Rickards: Duke watchdog who covered Anil Potti case dies at 72

dukeIt’s unusual for us to post obituaries on Retraction Watch — we’ve published just one so far in three-and-a-half years — but we wanted to pause for a moment to note the passing of a tireless crusader for transparency and accountability whose electronic path crossed with ours a number of times since 2012 because of our shared interest in the case of Anil Potti.

We learned of the death of Ed Rickards this weekend while Ivan was attending ScienceOnline 2014. The Duke Chronicle, the university’s student newspaper, reported on February 5: Continue reading RIP, Ed Rickards: Duke watchdog who covered Anil Potti case dies at 72