Former director of U.S. research watchdog agency moves to NIH

Kathy Partin

Kathy Partin, who served as director of the U.S. Office of Research Integrity (ORI) for just under two years until being removed from the post late in 2017, has a new position at the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH), Retraction Watch has learned.

As of yesterday (Sept. 30), Partin is intramural research integrity officer at the NIH. She replaces Melissa Colbert, who will be retiring.

Partin, who spent more than 20 years at Colorado State University as a researcher and then as director of the office of research integrity and compliance review, was appointed ORI director in December 2015. Within months, Science reported that Partin was facing a “staff revolt” because of “profound concern about the tone and direction” of her management. In 2016, the agency only made seven findings of misconduct, compared to 14 in 2015 and 11 the year before. In 2017, the agency issued seven findings, and it has issued nine to this year to date.

In November 2017, Partin left the ORI, officially as a temporary reassignment to the Office of the Vice President for Research at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences. Since that time, Wanda Jones has been interim director.

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One thought on “Former director of U.S. research watchdog agency moves to NIH”

  1. This will not be an easy job. Midway through my 20 years at ORI, I looked at whether there was a link between institutional funding and misconduct reporting for the first ten years of our cases (inquiries, investigations, and PHS findings). (This was at a time when there was an interest as to whether one could ‘measure’ misconduct.) There was obvious scatter, but none the less a good link existed to extramural NIH funding (which doesn’t surprise). Two institutions stood out as ‘over reporting’, but from our reviewing we already knew their cases were solid. However, the case reporting for the NIH intramural program was 15 standard deviations below the norm. One top NIH official responded the under reporting was due to unfactored ‘bricks and mortar’ costs, but there are more likely explanations such as balkanization, lack of competition, peer review, etc. Still, just applying a 1% sociopathy factor to a $3B budget should produce a lot more cases than are reported. I don’t envy the challenge.

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