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Duke University pays $112m to settle claims that it knowingly used falsified data to obtain research grants

BMJ 2019; 364 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.l1422 (Published 27 March 2019) Cite this as: BMJ 2019;364:l1422
  1. Owen Dyer
  1. Montreal

Duke University in North Carolina will pay $112.5m (£85.2m; €100m) to settle allegations from the US government and a whistleblowing employee that it allowed fraudulent data to be used in federal research grant claims.

The case dates back to 2013, when Erin Potts-Kant, a clinical research coordinator at the university’s Foster Lab, was arrested for spending the laboratory’s research budget on internet purchases, which triggered an investigation by Duke into her research.

Analysis of her data and attempts to reproduce her results found that none of her work dating back to 2006 could be relied on. Because the Foster Lab was a “core” laboratory—conducting mouse lung tissue experiments for many Duke departments and external institutes—the fraudulent data contaminated research throughout the university. The findings have since led to 17 retractions. Grants for the research came from the National Institutes of Health and the Environmental Protection Agency.

As Duke scrambled …

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