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WHO refers $29m Oxford research project to GMC for misconduct

BMJ 2016; 355 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.i5971 (Published 07 November 2016) Cite this as: BMJ 2016;355:i5971
  1. Nigel Hawkes
  1. London

The World Health Organization has referred leading Oxford University researchers to the UK General Medical Council after an independent review found that they committed research ethics misconduct.

The referral is the culmination of a long running dispute involving José Villar of the Nuffield Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology at Oxford and Stephen Kennedy, head of the department and professor of reproductive medicine. They lead Intergrowth-21st, an international study of fetal growth funded by a $29m (£23.2m; €26m) grant from the Gates Foundation.

Ever since they won the grant in 2008 there have been grumbles from rival researchers that they did so by exploiting ideas developed as part of a WHO project with the same aim. Villar worked at WHO as coordinator of maternal and perinatal health before his appointment to an Oxford chair in 2006, and both men were involved in developing the protocol for a proposed extension of WHO’s child …

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