Miami dean stepped down weeks after misconduct finding

Charles A. Downs, via University of Miami

An associate dean at the University of Miami stepped down from his post two weeks after agreeing to sanctions stemming from a finding of misconduct by a government watchdog, Retraction Watch has learned.

Yesterday, we reported that the U.S. Office of Research Integrity (ORI) found that Charles Downs, “engaged in research misconduct by intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly falsifying and/or fabricating data” in six federal grant applications while on the faculty of the University of Arizona.

Downs was appointed associate dean of Miami’s nursing school in 2018, and stepped down from the position on December 4, according to a university spokesperson. He remains an associate professor at the school.

The spokesperson did not respond to a question about why Downs — who agreed to four years of supervision of his federally funded research beginning on November 18 — resigned.

In a statement to Retraction Watch, the university said:

The University of Miami is aware of the findings by the Office of Research Integrity involving Charles Downs that occurred when he was employed by a prior institution. When the University of Miami became aware of the ORI investigation, we conducted a comprehensive evaluation of his work since he joined UM in August 2018, and no evidence of research misconduct has been identified.

As we reported yesterday:

Downs has been a principal investigator on five NIH grants totaling more than $1 million. One of those grants, which was originally for $1.6 million in 2018, was to study the “healing potential of curcumin for acute lung injury,” according to a University of Arizona press release.

Downs has not responded to a request for comment, and Cindy Munro, the dean of Miami’s School of Nursing and Health Sciences, forwarded our request to the university spokesperson.

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2 thoughts on “Miami dean stepped down weeks after misconduct finding”

  1. When will ORI at NIH finally change their misconduct sanctions to actually deincentivise fraud on their grant applications? Until they do that & show us that they are serious about this, we will not be able to completely stamp out shenanigans in published papers. Stop the buck, before it even starts…

  2. The ORI I recall was established in 1992-3 over the academic and research community’s forceful objections and opinions (then) that government had no business enforcing their scientific standards. Are you now saying here it is not the community’s responsibility, but government’s, to stop misconduct? Isn’t this what some of us older sorts would call the ‘Fat Albert’ Defense: i.e, “the devil made me do it.”?

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