Research technician faked NIH-funded research: ORI

Melanie Pallansch-Cokonis (via LinkedIn)

Melanie Pallansch-Cokonis, a former research technician at Southern Research Institute, faked data in work funded by NIH contracts and grants, according to the Office of Research Integrity (ORI).

According to the ORI’s case summary, available today in the Federal Register:

ORI found that the Respondent engaged in research misconduct by falsifying assay data that were submitted in reports to NIH. Specifically, ORI found that Respondent knowingly falsified data for cytoprotection assays with antiviral compounds and provided the false data for inclusion in reports submitted to NIH for contracts N01-AI-30047 and N01-AI-70042 and grant U54 HG005034. Respondent transferred raw data from 8X12 SoftmaxPro matrix files into spreadsheets and then falsified the numbers for cell control, virus control, drug cytotoxicity, drug only, and/or cells+ virus+ drug wells to make 206 assays appear to have been successfully performed when they were not.

Cokonis agreed being debarred from NIH grants for three years, and to not serve on any NIH committees — including peer review committees — for the same length of time.

Southern Research Institute

…is a not-for-profit, 501(c)(3) organization conducting basic and applied research in Alabama, Maryland, and North Carolina in the areas of drug discovery, preclinical drug development, advanced engineering, and environmental protection.

According to her LinkedIn profile, Cokonis left the Southern Research Institute in June 2012, worked at Imquest BioSciences from August 2012 until April 2013, and has worked at Life Technologies (now part of Thermo Fisher) since November 2013.

Cokonis is a c0-author on one paper indexed in PubMed that does not appear to have been funded by the grants or contracts listed in the ORI’s summary. The grant listed — U54 HG005034 — funds the NIH’s Molecular Libraries Probe Production Centers.

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