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Diabetologist and former journal editor faces charges of data fabrication

BMJ 2017; 356 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.j1348 (Published 16 March 2017) Cite this as: BMJ 2017;356:j1348
  1. Clare Dyer
  1. The BMJ

A consultant diabetologist who edited the British Journal of Diabetes from 2014 to 2016 is facing allegations by the General Medical Council that he fabricated research data.

Paul Grant was also appointed editor in chief of Clinical Medicine, the journal of the Royal College of Physicians, before the allegations emerged but never took up the post.

At a four week hearing of the Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service that opened on 13 March, the GMC accuses Grant of a catalogue of research misconduct, including forging the signatures of coauthors, listing doctors who had not significantly contributed to papers as coauthors, and fabricating data.

The allegations concern five studies, but the most serious charges relate to two papers that Grant coauthored while working as a registrar at King’s College Hospital in London. The papers, which were published in 2012 and 2013, have both been retracted.

The charge of data fabrication relates to a study of anxiety and depression in 350 patients with type 1 diabetes who received insulin pump therapy at King’s.1 The retraction notice states, “It appears that the study was carried out without the knowledge or authorisation of the senior staff of King’s College Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, in particular without endorsement of some coauthors.

“In addition, it was submitted without prior knowledge or consent of the people in the acknowledgements. The study had not been authorized by the institution.”

Grant is accused of fabricating the mean age of the cohort of pump patients, the mean duration of diabetes, and the total maximum prevalence of all psychological or psychiatric morbidities. In that paper, and a related study on psychopathology in pump patients, he is accused of failing to obtain permission to access the database of patients using insulin pumps and breaching patients’ confidentiality in accessing the electronic records of those whose cases he was not involved in.

The other retracted paper was a study of salt and water imbalance after pituitary surgery.2 Grant admitted that he submitted the paper without making changes demanded by his coauthors and knowing that they had not seen the final version, and he admitted forging coauthors’ signatures on the copyright assignment form.

The retraction notice reads, “This article has been retracted because it was submitted without prior knowledge or consent of one or more listed authors. The journal’s ethical guidelines state that authors must ‘ensure all contributors have approved the final version of the manuscript and its submission to the journal.’ Submitting author Dr Paul Grant has apologised for his actions.”

Grant, who qualified in 2002 at the University of London, is now a consultant community diabetologist in Brighton.

At the tribunal hearing in Manchester, he is also accused of inappropriately including a fictitious figure, “Dr Derek Lington,” in the acknowledgments to the papers and failing to comply with research governance.

Clinical Medicine published a swansong in January 2017 by the former editor in chief, Humphrey Hodgson, stating that he had handed over the reins to Grant at the beginning of the year and wishing him success. But a spokeswoman for the Royal College of Physicians said that he never took up the role.

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