NIH rescinds grant to Texas eye researcher

banner-nihlogoA scientist who uses imaging to study the eye and brain has lost a major grant from the U.S. National Institutes of Health.

In June, the NIH revised the award for Timothy Duong at the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio from $332,500 per year to $0, and included this statement:

This revision rescinds the award in accordance with the email and follow-up letter sent to the Principal Investigator, Dr. Duong and the Business Official, Mr.Green on 6/30/15. The budget period and project period of the grant will end on 7/2/15.

The project title was “MRI of Methylene Blue and Ischemic Stroke;” Mr. Green is Chris Green, Director of the Office of Special Programs at UTHSCSA.

Unfortunately, that’s basically all we know – we don’t know why the grant was rescinded, nor how often this happens, although we understand this is an unusual occurrence. The grant’s identifying number — R01NS083860 – no longer appears in the NIH’s grant database, RePORTER. So it’s difficult to know how many other grants have been awarded then rescinded in the past, leaving no traces online.

We asked the NIH for more information, and got this statement in return:

NIH does not discuss details of the decision making process regarding specific grant awards.

According to RePORTER, Duong is a principal investigator on three other active grants, funded by the National Eye Institute and National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke.

We contacted the UTHSCSA, and received this statement in response:

The Health Science Center respects the National Institutes of Health’s funding determination in this matter. We do not have any additional comments.

We’ve reached out to Duong, and will update with any information they can provide.

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14 thoughts on “NIH rescinds grant to Texas eye researcher”

  1. It seems to me that federal grants must be transparent to the extent possible. One must recognize certain privacy rights, personnel matters, and the like, but federally-funded science must meet minimum standards of scrutiny. This does not.

  2. There’s an interesting backstory here. I’ve never heard of an NIH grant being rescinded. The fact that it has vanished from the public record is the greatest concern. It is reminiscent of stories of records being wiped by the CIA. Are you considering a FOIA request?

    1. There were at least 3 FOIA requests issued previously (in 2010*) for this data (I’m uncertain if more recent attempts exist.) Those requests proved rather fruitless. If the NIH does not consistently track, classify and archive research grant terminations, then the information will be difficult to obtain.


      I can only hope that the situation has improved during the last 5 years. Even if the information is not stored in a central database, some type of paper trail concerning these decisions must exist?

  3. If this grant were rescinded for research misconduct, it would be useful to say so.
    It would serve as notice that the penalty can be more meaningful than the current, Voluntary Exclusion Agreements”


  4. The award revision letter says:

    “In order to meet Institute program objectives within Fiscal Year 2015 budget constraints, the recommended levels for this grant have been reduced. Future year recommended levels of support have also been reduced.”

    Very wrong to create a cloud over Dr. Duong by lack of info.

  5. We actually did FOIA the NIH, and that’s how we received the revised award notice confirming it had been rescinded. Thanks for your comments!

  6. I’m uncomfortable with this post, in that there is no evidence of misconduct on the part of the PI. Given that the subject matter of RW and the fact that most posts cover research misconduct, simply having your name pop up on RW in a Google search is potentially very damaging to a PI’s career. At the least, Dr. Duong’s should have had adequate time to respond before posting.

    1. Thanks for reading. We also wanted to give Dr. Duong plenty of time to respond to our queries, so we reached out to him multiple times. The first time I contacted him was August 12, and then finally September 24, six days before this post ran. I gave him a deadline, as well, so he’d know there was a time limit. Thanks again for your query.

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